Canadiens run out of gas against hungry Capitals

 

'Nothing good to take from that game': Therrien

 
 
 
 
Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien looks on from the bench with players, from left, Max Pacioretty, Michael Bournival, Brendan Gallagher, Daniel Briere, Tomas Plekanec and Travis Moen during third period NHL hockey action against the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.
 
 

Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien looks on from the bench with players, from left, Max Pacioretty, Michael Bournival, Brendan Gallagher, Daniel Briere, Tomas Plekanec and Travis Moen during third period NHL hockey action against the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.

Photograph by: Graham Hughes, THE CANADIAN PRESS

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The skinny: The Canadiens’ worrisome slump continued Saturday night at the Bell Centre with a dismal 5-0 loss to the Washington Capitals. It was the Habs’ fourth loss in a row and it was a costly one as they slipped to fourth place in the Atlantic Division behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, who picked up a point from their overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets. The Leafs are now one point ahead of the Canadiens with 60 points.

The Capitals scored four even-strength goals in the second period, while the Canadiens faltered badly. The Canadiens hadn’t managed a shot on goal in that frame until past the halfway mark and had only three shots on goal in the game at that point. When they managed to register their first few shots on goal in the second period, loud and derisive cheers erupted in the Bell Centre. The Capitals outshot the Habs 34-21.

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby got the shutout as Washington snapped a seven-game losing streak with goals from Alexander Ovechkin, John Erskine, Jay Beagle, John Carlson and Casey Wellman. It was the Capitals’ seventh win in a row at the Bell Centre, dating back to March 2011, and was the final meeting this season between the two teams.

Neither team was able to capitalize on its power-play opportunities.

There’s “nothing good to take from that game,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said afterward.

“We’ve got to move on. We’re facing adversity and we all know it,” Therrien said, noting all teams face it as do players through the course of their careers.

“It’s how we’re going to react facing adversity,” he added.

There was a team meeting after the game and Therrien confirmed it was management’s decision to have all the players available to the media after the game.

The four or more streak continues: The Canadiens, who have been struggling defensively, have now given up four or more goals in six games dating back to Jan. 14 against the New Jersey Devils. The Canadiens pulled goaltender Carey Price just past the halfway point of the second period with the Capitals holding a 4-0 lead. In fairness to Price, the Canadiens were badly outshot by the Capitals. Price no doubt would have wanted another look at a bizarre goal credited to Erskine that slipped through his pads. Backup goaltender Peter Budaj replaced Price, as he did on Wednesday during the Habs’ 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Alexander the Great: Alex Ovechkin returned to action after missing two games with a lower-body injury and scored his league-leading 36th goal, putting the Capitals on the scoreboard at 1:46 of the second period when he shoved a puck past Price at the corner of the net. He also assisted on Wellman’s goal in the third period, setting him up with a cross-ice pass.

Paying tribute: Newly retired Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo received a loud ovation before the game when he walked out onto the ice for a ceremonial faceoff wearing a Canadiens jersey. The 41-year-old Calvillo announced his retirement this week at an emotional news conference. He played 20 seasons in the Canadian Football League — 16 of them as the Als’ quarterback — and holds the distinction of being pro football’s career passing leader.

The pregame ceremonies began on a sombre note as the crowd was asked to observe a moment of silence for the victims of the tragic fire at the seniors’ residence in L’Isle-Verte.

Back to back: The Canadiens’ games Friday in Detroit and Saturday at the Bell Centre were their 10th back-to-back games this season, all of them involving travel between games. With their loss against the Capitals, the Canadiens’ record with that demanding turnaround is now 11-8-1.

What’s next: The Canadiens play the Carolina Hurricanes at the Bell Centre on Tuesday (7:30 p.m., RDS, TSN Radio 690), and then travel to Boston to face the Bruins on Thursday. The game against the Bruins will be just the second meeting this season between the Atlantic Division rivals. The Canadiens return home after that for a four-game homestand with the Olympic break looming.

 
 
 
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Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien looks on from the bench with players, from left, Max Pacioretty, Michael Bournival, Brendan Gallagher, Daniel Briere, Tomas Plekanec and Travis Moen during third period NHL hockey action against the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.
 

Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien looks on from the bench with players, from left, Max Pacioretty, Michael Bournival, Brendan Gallagher, Daniel Briere, Tomas Plekanec and Travis Moen during third period NHL hockey action against the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.

Photograph by: Graham Hughes, THE CANADIAN PRESS

 
Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien looks on from the bench with players, from left, Max Pacioretty, Michael Bournival, Brendan Gallagher, Daniel Briere, Tomas Plekanec and Travis Moen during third period NHL hockey action against the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.
Canadiens’ Douglas Murray, left, holds off Washington Capitals’ Marcus Johansson during first period NHL hockey action at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.
Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby makes a save against Canadiens’ Tomas Plekanec during third period NHL hockey action at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.
Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin, left, celebrates with teammates Martin Erat, centre, and Joel Ward after scoring against the Canadiens during second period NHL hockey action at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.
Canadiens goaltender Carey Price looks on from the bench shortly after being pulled during second period NHL hockey action against the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.
Canadiens’ Alexei Emelin, left, is upended by Washington Capitals’ Tom Wilson during first period NHL hockey action at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.
Canadiens’ Brandon Prust, right, fights with Washington Capitals’ Tom Wilson during first period NHL hockey action at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.
Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin, left, and teammate Jason Chimera, right, move in on Canadiens goaltender Carey Price during second period NHL hockey action at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.
Former Montreal Alouettes quaterback Anthony Calvillo, centre, performs a ceremonial puck drop alongside Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and Canadiens captain Brian Gionta prior to an NHL hockey game at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.
Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin, left, moves in to score against Canadiens goaltender Carey Price during second period NHL hockey action at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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