Capitals' Vokoun shuts out Canadiens

The Associated Press

MONTREAL (AP) Alex Ovechkin could afford to be a bit rusty in his return to the Washington Capitals because goalie Tomas Vokoun was anything but.

Vokoun made 30 saves for his third shutout of the season and Alexander Semin scored on the second of Washington's two penalty shots in the Capitals' 3-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

Ovechkin was back in the Capitals' lineup after serving a three-game suspension for his hit on Pittsburgh's Zbynek Michalek. Despite being held off the scoresheet, he was already looking forward to Washington's next game in Boston.

''I can't wait to play (Sunday),'' Ovechkin said. ''I feel good, I feel fresh, and that's what I missed for 10 days.''

Washington was up 1-0 in the first when the Russian superstar won an open-ice battle for the puck with Montreal's Andrei Kostitsyn. Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges tricked him into providing what Ovechkin thought was a setup pass.

''That was a pretty funny moment, actually,'' Ovechkin said. ''I could shoot the puck - I won the battle - but I heard the stick. I thought it was Semin.''

Dennis Wideman and Matt Hendricks also scored for Washington, which won for just the second time in its last six (2-2-2).

''With the way the suspension worked out it seemed like a really long one because it ended up being about a week and a half,'' Wideman said. ''I thought he played well tonight. He was working, he threw some hits - whenever he gets physically involved he's that much better.''

Vokoun recorded his 47th NHL shutout, his first in 21 games against Montreal. He debuted with the Canadiens in 1996-97.

''Obviously that's a long time ago,'' Vokoun said. ''We needed the two points and we played a pretty good game. We played smart and we were fortunate enough to get a one-goal lead and we didn't give them much.''

It was also the Capitals' third straight shutout at the Bell Centre, each by a different goalie. Michal Neuvirth made 31 saves in a 3-0 win in Montreal on Jan. 18, and Braden Holtby shut out the Canadiens in a 2-0 win last Mar. 26.

Peter Budaj stopped 20 shots for the Canadiens, who lost their third in a row.

Wideman scored his 10th goal on a floater from the point after Brooks Laick won a faceoff in the Canadiens' zone 8:10 into the game.

''If I could lay a wedge shot in like that on the golf course my handicap would be a lot lower,'' Wideman said.

Hendricks made it a two-goal lead 6:11 into the third.

Semin fired a slap shot past Budaj on his penalty shot 11:57 into the third after he was hooked by Tomas Kaberle on a breakaway.

''I don't think any goalie could react to that shot,'' Ovechkin said.

Budaj stopped Troy Brouwer on Washington's first penalty shot 9:16 into the second. Brouwer was awarded the penalty shot by referee Rob Martell after Budaj threw his stick at the puck.

''I think the last one we were trying to create some offense - we're down two goals late in the game and we turned the puck over,'' Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges said.

Montreal's Scott Gomez failed to score a goal for his 51st straight game, ensuring that he will go a full calendar year between goals. The veteran center, in the fifth year of a seven-year, $51.5-million contract he signed with the New York Rangers, last scored on Feb. 5, 2011.

NOTES: Vokoun, who has also played for Nashville and Florida, allowed four goals in his one and only appearance for the Canadiens on Feb. 6, 1997. He was pulled after the first period of Montreal's 9-5 loss in Philadelphia. ... Capitals head coach Dale Hunter used his timeout 3:54 into the third with Washington set for a faceoff in its zone after an icing call. ... Gomez has seven assists in 22 games this season.

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