NHL Game Summary - Washington at Montreal
(Saturday, December 13th)
Final Score: Washington 2, Montreal 1
Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - Michael Nylander scored to break a tie with 2:32 left in the third period and the Washington Capitals held on to edge the Montreal Canadiens, 2-1, at the Bell Centre.
Nylander snapped a 27-game scoreless drought with his last goal coming on October 16 in a 4-3 win at Pittsburgh. Nicklas Backstrom also tallied for Washington, which has won three straight and five of six.
Simeon Varlamov, who was making his NHL debut in goal for the Capitals, was sensational, stopping 32-of-33 shots.
"He played unbelievable in his first game. It's great, outstanding," Nylander said about Varlamov's performance. "He played great in the second and the rest of the way."
Patrice Brisebois accounted for the lone Canadiens goal. Montreal has lost two in a row and three of its last four. The Habs concluded a franchise-record seven-game homestand with a 4-2-1 record.
Jaroslav Halak turned in a solid performance between the pipes for the Canadiens, making 24 saves.
With the game tied at 1-1 after two periods of play, each team had a early power play chance in the third, but neither team was able to light the lamp.
After the Canadiens swarmed the Washington net in the later part of the period and were unable to get the go-ahead marker, the Capitals surged back in front with 2:32 left in the third.
Alexandre Giroux's shot from the left point went wide, but Nylander sprawled on the ice in front of the Montreal net and was able to shovel the puck toward the goal and it glanced off Halak's skate and in to put the Caps in front 2-1.
Washington's defense then rose to the forefront and didn't allow the Habs to get a shot on goal in the closing minutes.
"We need everyone to play 60 minutes and play together," Canadiens left wing Steve Begin said. "We just can't play and see what happens. That's not going to work. We have to wake up."
Washington opened the scoring at 10:19 of the first period while on the power play. With Josh Gorges in the box serving a roughing minor, Alex Ovechkin's wrist shot from the left point was stopped by Halak, but Backstrom, who was standing on the doorstep, fought off two Canadiens defenders to put it home.
Brisebois got the Habs even at 1-1 with 4:35 left in the second stanza. The veteran defenseman controlled the puck off a defensive zone faceoff, skated down the right wing boards, then did a give-and-go with Alex Tanguay before blasting a slap shot over the shoulder of Varlamov from the top of the right circle.
Despite both teams having some quality chances in the waning moments of the period, there was no further scoring and the game remained deadlocked heading into the intermission.
Both goaltenders were busy during the second period with Varlamov turning aside 12-of-13 shots for the Caps. Halak stopped all nine shots faced in the stanza for the Habs.
Washington will play at the New York Islanders on Tuesday night, while the Canadiens visit Carolina...Montreal was without several key players including goaltender Carey Price (flu), captain Saku Koivu (lower-body injury), defenseman Mathieu Dandenault (broken arm) and left wing Chris Higgins (upper- body injury)...The Caps earned a 3-0 home victory over the Habs on November 28 and have won three straight and four of the last five meetings between the clubs.
12/13 22:31:28 ET