Canadiens seek to end skid vs. Capitals (Jan 19, 2018)
WASHINGTON -- The NHL schedule maker did no favors for the Washington Capitals.
Coming out of their 'bye week,' the Capitals are going from zero to 60 with three games in four days following a five-day layoff. They began that stretch Thursday night with a 4-3 overtime loss at New Jersey and it continues when Washington hosts the Montreal Canadiens Friday night.
Taylor Hall scored 34 seconds into overtime for the Devils, who had lost five straight to the Capitals, including two this season. Washington (28-15-3) still holds a four-point lead over second-place New Jersey in the Metropolitan Division.
Brett Connolly scored twice for Washington, including with 3:38 remaining to force overtime in a game the Capitals once trailed 3-1, and Braden Holtby stopped 28 shots.
"It wasn't an ideal situation," Holtby told the Washington Post regarding the time off. "We got a point. We scored some goals, scored three. I think at the end of the game, I need to find a way to make a couple saves."
The Capitals mustered just 19 shots on goal and were 0-for-5 on the power play.
Washington's third line, including the 25-year-old Connolly, center Lars Eller and T.J. Oshie, has scored five goals in its last four games.
"The thing with (Connolly) is that he has so much more detail in his game now than he did a couple years ago," coach Barry Trotz told the Post. "You want to see the evolution of a player, keep growing and evolving. He's doing that, he's earning ice time."
The Canadiens are coming off a less-than-successful homecoming for coach Claude Julien, who returned to Boston, where he coached for 10 seasons, on Wednesday. He was feted with a video tribute during the first period, but then the Bruins dispatched the Canadiens 4-1.
Jakub Jerabek scored his first NHL goal, and Carey Price made 28 saves for the Canadiens (18-21-6), who lost their third straight (0-1-2), though before Wednesday they had earned a point in four straight (2-0-2)
"Tonight we just laid an egg. Not good enough," Julien told NHL.com. "So obviously it's a disappointing loss for us, especially in the situation we're in. But we didn't play well, as simple as that. You hope you can bounce back next game and resemble more the team you did in the last four or five (games)."
The Canadiens actually took a 1-0 lead 31 seconds in, but it was all downhill from there.
"It was a bad game, we're not happy about it," Montreal forward Max Pacioretty told NHL.com. "It seemed like nobody really wanted the puck, and obviously ... you play against a team like that, that offensive line is probably one of the best in the League, and you give them opportunities to feel good about their game, and they made us pay."
Montreal and Washington met for the first time this season back on Oct. 7 in the Capitals' homer opener. Alex Ovechkin scored four goals in Washington's 6-1 win. Price was lifted after allowing four goals in the first period. Holtby stopped 38 shots for the Capitals.
In his career, Price is 6-12-4 with a 3.17 goals-against average and a .895 save percentage in his career versus the Capitals.
Washington's likely Friday starter, backup goalie Philipp Grubauer, is 0-1 in his career against the Canadiens with a 1.64 GAA. In his last seven appearances this season, Grubauer is 4-0-2 with a 1.33 GAA and .957 save percentage.
Ovechkin has 28 goals and 21 assists in 43 games against the Canadiens. Montreal's Tomas Plekanec has 15 goals and 15 assists in 44 games versus Washington.