WASHINGTON -- When the NHL lockout ended, many believed teams with first-year coaches would have the most difficult time getting out of the gates.
On Thursday night in front of a restless crowd at Verizon Center, Michel Therrien's Montreal Canadiens looked like a team hitting its stride, while Adam Oates' Washington Capitals continued to stumble.
The Canadiens rattled off four straight goals in the second period, including power-play tallies by veterans Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Markov, and rode the goaltending of Carey Price (30 saves) to a 4-1 win.
Price lost his shutout bid with 2:23 remaining in the third period when Joey Crabb scored his first goal as a Capital.
The Canadiens are now 2-1-0 under Therrien, while Washington has started the season 0-3-0 under Oates. It's the worst start for the Capitals since 1993, when they opened with six consecutive losses.
The Canadiens blew the game open with a four-goal second period.
Montreal entered the game with three power-play goals in their first two contests and in a span of just 57 seconds they added two more to grab a 2-0 lead.
With Alex Ovechkin (interference) and Troy Brouwer (delay of game) in the penalty box, Plekanec gave the Habs a 1-0 lead 3:47 into the period when he snapped an Markov feed past a sliding Michal Neuvirth, who was making his first start of the season.
Sixteen seconds after Brouwer was released from the box, Capitals left winger Matt Hendricks was called for goalie interference and Markov made Washington pay at the 4:44 mark. Markov made it 2-0 when he hammered a Max Pacioretty rebound from the left circle into the gaping net.
The goal was Markov's third of the season and the power-play goal was the seventh allowed by the Capitals in their first three games.
The Habs scored their first even-strength goal of the game at the 8:39 mark, this time on a 2-on-2 rush by Rene Bourque and Brian Gionta.
Bourque used a burst of speed down the left wing to get a step on Washington defenseman John Carlson. When Karl Alzner left his defensive position to help Carlson, Bourque found Gionta alone on the slot for a tap-in.
The Canadiens completed their four-goal spree with 1:39 remaining in the period when Francis Boillon blasted a high-rising shot from the right point over the glove of Neuvirth. It was the fourth goal on 11 shots for the Canadiens in the second period.
NOTES: The Capitals fell to 13-3-2 against the Canadiens in the past 18 meetings. Washington went 4-0-0 vs. Montreal last season. ... The game featured three of the NHL's top 11 active point producers from the Czech Republic. Washington defenseman Roman Hamrlik ranks fifth with 638 points, while Montreal defenseman Thomas Kaberle ranks sixth (560) and forward Plekanec ranks 11th with 365 points. ... Canadiens left wing Brandon Prust played in his 201st straight game, the longest active streak on the Canadiens. He led the NHL in fighting majors last season with 20. ... Canadiens left wing Rene Bourque has a history of bad blood with the Capitals. On Jan. 3 of last year he threw a blatant elbow to the head of Nicklas Backstrom, knocking him out of the next 40 games with a concussion.