Without any contributions from the NHL’s top-ranked power play, the Capitals have scored 11 goals in two straight wins over Montreal to regain home-ice advantage heading into Wednesday’s Game 4 in their Eastern Conference series.
Washington won its Bell Centre playoff debut 5-1 on Monday night. Its vaunted power play went 0 for 7, though, and played no part in silencing the Canadiens’ fans. That was handled by a four-goal outburst in the second period, started by Boyd Gordon’s(notes) short-handed goal and capped by Alex Ovechkin’s(notes) second goal in as many games.
The Capitals, who lead the series 2-1, have yet to score in 14 opportunities with the man advantage against eighth-seeded Montreal. They haven’t scored a power-play goal in five games, including their last two regular-season games.
“If the power play gets going it’s going to be better for us,” Ovechkin said. “But I hope when we need it it’s going to be working.”
Washington coach Bruce Boudreau noted that any added contributions from the power play won’t necessarily result in the Capitals blowing the Canadiens off the ice.
“Usually when one game goes up, though, something else suffers,” Boudreau said. “It’s just the law of averages. I keep using statistics in baseball but when you have fabulous pitching, you don’t always have great hitting, and vice versa.
“If our power play was 3 for 5 one night I don’t think we’d have four even-strength goals. So it’ll be nice to get the power play back on track, but I think we worked with it this year, we had so many guys that were plus that 5-on-5 we played a pretty good game as well.”
After reviewing the previous night’s game Tuesday, Boudreau said the Capitals’ four-goal margin of victory in Game 3 had pushed to the back of his mind the fact that the Canadiens had numerous good scoring opportunities early in the game.
“I didn’t realize when I was watching it this morning that they had so many good chances,” Boudreau said. “Sometimes the score of the game masks how you played. We thought at the end of the first we were doing pretty good and they came close to scoring about five really good chances to score and Varly was up to the task and played really strong in that period.”
The Capitals chased Montreal starter Jaroslav Halak(notes) midway through Game 3. Carey Price(notes), who played each of the Canadiens’ four regular season games against Washington, relieved and stopped 21 of 23 shots.
Boudreau was coaching Hershey in the 2007 AHL final when he first encountered Price, who won playoff MVP honors in leading Hamilton past the Bears to a Calder Cup title that spring.
“Well we played five games against him and every game we averaged over 42 shots a game against him and they won it five so he was quite a difference maker,” Boudreau said. “It was at that point we knew he was a good goalie. If he’s playing (Wednesday), we know he’s a great goalie who can steal games for you so we’ll just have to be aware of it.”
Even without power-play goals, the Capitals have rebounded nicely after dropping the opener 3-2 in overtime at home.
“The first game shook us a lot,” Ovechkin said. “We lost in overtime in front of our fans and we felt embarrassed.”
Held without a point or a shot on goal for the first time in his career in Thursday’s opener, Ovechkin has six points in the two wins, including a goal and three assists in a 6-5 comeback victory in Game 2 which saw Nicklas Backstrom(notes) complete a hat trick for the overtime winner.
“It’s only 2-1 in the series and we haven’t won anything,” Ovechkin said. “We’ve just won two games and we have to win another game, then another game. Every game we win, we’ll feel more comfortable.”