The Washington Capitals bounced right back from being shut out and blanked the struggling Montreal Canadiens.
Michal Neuvirth made 31 saves for his second shutout of the season and Alex Ovechkin scored his 19th goal on a power play midway through the second period to lift Washington to a 3-0 victory over Montreal on Wednesday night.
Mathieu Perreault and Marcus Johansson scored first-period goals for the Capitals, who recovered from a 3-0 home loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday to win for the third time in four games.
”Those were two huge goals in the first period and it gave us (room to) breathe,” said Ovechkin, who drove a slap shot from the right point through traffic and past Carey Price for his 19th goal 10:44 into the second.
Neuvirth, who made his first start in 11 games, recorded his sixth NHL shutout. It was his first since a 26-save effort in a 1-0 win in Winnipeg on Dec. 15.
Price stopped 13 shots for the Canadiens, 4-10-1 in their past 15 games — the last 14 under interim coach Randy Cunneyworth.
Montreal went 0 for 7 on the power play, including four opportunities in the third period.
”I’m a little bit frustrated, for sure. I think mostly with the power play,” Cunneyworth said. ”It’s largely my responsibility, and I need to see better results there. We have to work at it a little harder.”
Washington’s Matt Hendricks fought new Canadiens left wing Rene Bourque 1:15 in.
”He challenged me right away, and I expected that,” said Bourque, who was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Calgary on Thursday.
Bourque was with the Flames when he was given a five-game NHL suspension for elbowing Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom in the head on Jan. 3.
”There’s consequences for actions, and he knows it as well,” Hendricks said. ”I’m sure he wanted to get it out of the way, and it was good. It was good for us and good for the game.”
Backstrom missed his seventh straight game following the hit.
”Nicklas is still out, so hockey players have long memories, I think,” Capitals center Brooks Laich said. ”It’s not a cheap shot, it’s not getting him from behind or jumping him or anything — Matt steps up and fights him honestly. I don’t know if anything is ever over, but it was a great job by (Hendricks).”
Perreault opened the scoring with his fourth goal 4:41 in. He put a shot through Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges’ legs on its way past Price. Johansson made it 2-0 at 8:23, snapping a wrist shot past Price’s glove for his 10th goal.
Bourque, who made his Montreal debut on Sunday after sitting out the final game of his suspension one night earlier, hit the top corner of the right post when he fired a shot during a 2-on-1 break in the second.
Washington was called for four penalties in the third, including three on defenseman John Erskine 2:34 into the period. Erskine got four minutes for high-sticking Mathieu Darche in the face, and was also called for elbowing him.
Montreal’s six-minute power play was shortened when Max Pacioretty was sent off for interference at 5:19.
NOTES: The Capitals improved to 4-0-1 in their last five games in Montreal. … Washington is 10-2-2 in its last 14 regular-season games against the Canadiens. … D Chris Campoli and C Petteri Nokelainen were left out of the Canadiens lineup.