The Capitals made sure the one-game suspension to Alex Ovechkin did not cost them with a 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.
Check out a recap of the game here.
Observations from the win
Better power play
Even without Alex Ovechkin, the power play looked much improved. The most noticeable improvement was the puck movement.
One of the issues on the power play has been slow and indecisive puck movement. The Caps were much quicker with their passes on Monday and kept the puck constantly moving which kept Montreal guessing.
Washington's power play has focused largely on position over movement which is fine and was productive for several years years. Lately, however, if the passes the players want aren't open, they freeze up with the puck, hold onto it too long, then try to force passes through covered passing lanes. On Monday, each time a player took a pass, the puck was off their stick shortly after. They already knew where the puck was going when they got the puck and quickly moved it not allowing the penalty kill to get set.
The key now will be continuing that puck movement when Ovechkin returns.
A good night for Holtby
If you're going to get all over Braden Holtby for every bad game, you have to give him credit when he has a good one. Holtby allowed only two goals on Monday. The first was a 3-on-2 with Dmitry Orlov and T.J. Oshie playing defense and Orlov misplayed it allowing Jeff Petry wide open in front of the net. The second came as Dale Weiss was also left alone in front of the net. Holtby played it awkwardly coming out to challenge Weiss, but did not extend the pads to try to force Weiss wide and gave him too much room. Still, the defense left him out to dry in both situations.
Otherwise, it was a very strong game.
Holtby made 14 saves in the third period alone and 31 saves overall for a .939 save percentage on the night. It is the first time in eight games he has managed a save percentage over .900.
Montreal took a 1-0 lead off a Jeff Petry goal and the Canadiens were all over the Caps to start. Then Washington earned a power play opportunity and, well, it was awful with Ovechkin, surely it would be terrible without him. Instead, Wilson scored to tie the game and the power play looked much improved. Suddenly, the Caps were back in the game.
Play of the game
This is great forecheck work by Evgeny Kuznetsov on one of the best defensemen in the game, Shea Weber. He forced a turnover then made the pass from his butt to set up the goal.
Stat of the game
Lars Eller loves playing against Montreal. He recorded one assist and was one of the Caps' best players on Monday.
Quote of the game
Holtby has had struggles in the past, but he always seems to rebound at some point and return to his dominant self. Todd Reirden called Monday's game a "response" performance for the netminder after his best performance in several weeks.
Close. The Caps rebounded from a 1-0 deficit and ended up winning 4-2.
Saw a lot of predictions for two goals for Richard Panik who played in Ovechkin's spot on the top line. Panik had two shots on goal, but no points in 12:35 of even-strength ice time.
No goals for John Carlson, but Holtby did have a strong game and the Caps had a two-goal win.
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