NHL Game Summary - Washington at Montreal
(Saturday, March 26th)
Final Score: Washington 2, Montreal 0
Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - Braden Holtby stopped 18 shots to notch his second career shutout as Washington got by Montreal, 2-0, at Bell Centre.
"You keep telling yourself the same thing 'stay in the game,'" said the young netminder about how he dealt with the pressure of playing in Montreal. "There was enough action in our end to keep me involved. In the second period, I got a couple of lucky bounces in a few scrambles, and then we just pulled it off from there."
Marco Sturm and Alexander Semin tallied for the Capitals, who have taken three of their last four overall and remained two points behind Philadelphia (100-98) in the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers topped the Islanders earlier Saturday.
"They were pretty determined to win tonight. We weren't happy with what happened last night, but when Marco got that first goal, it took a load off our shoulders because we got blanked (on Friday)," said Caps head coach Bruce Boudreau. "We were hoping to keep them off the scoresheet as long as possible. It's gotta be frustrating to play at home when you haven't scored."
Carey Price made 31 saves in defeat for the Canadiens, who have been blanked in three consecutive contests and have dropped five of their last seven games.
Montreal failed to gain ground on Northeast Division leaders Boston, which lost 1-0 earlier Saturday to the Rangers. The Habs remain five points out of first and are tied with New York for sixth in the East. Both teams have 87 points.
Sturm put the Caps ahead just 1:24 after the drop of the puck, when he swatted a Nicklas Backstrom rebound out of the air past Price at the left post.
Price had to be quick to make 14 saves in the second period to keep the home team down a goal, but Holtby was good on all eight Habs chances at his end.
Semin finally provided some breathing room, hitting the back of the net with 3:41 left in the contest from a 2-on-none rush.
A Montreal power play followed with 3:11 remaining after Marcus Johansson was sent off for shooting the puck over the glass in his defensive zone, and Price was pulled for an extra skater early in the advantage.
Holtby turned aside a Mike Cammalleri sizzler with 1:20 to play, and the Habs defense three times prevented an empty-net score. The Canadiens offense didn't get close for the remainder of the contest.
"It's not the scoring, it's the overall gameplan," admitted Canadiens captain Brian Gionta about his club's well suddenly running dry. "You're not doing the right things, not supporting each other and not coming up together. Without that support there aren't enough offensive chances."
Washington has won 14 of its last 17 games...The Canadiens have not been blanked in three straight games in more than 60 years, since October 23-29, 1949 against Boston, Toronto and Detroit...Backstrom drew primary assists on both Capitals goals...The Caps won three of four in the season series.
03/26 22:50:19 ET