The skinny: Washington backup goaltender Michal Neuvirth was the difference as the Capitals defeated the Canadiens 3-2 Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. Neuvirth made 27 saves to post his fourth win of the season. But it wasn’t a fluke because he extended his career record against the Canadiens to an impressive 5-2-0.
Lead gets trimmed: The Canadiens continue to hold a one-point lead over Boston in the race for first place in the Northeast Division, but the idle Bruins once again hold a game in hand. Washington held on to first place in the Southeast Division. The Capitals are two points up on Winnipeg and have played one fewer game.
Ovie’s the man: The Capitals got on the board when Alex Ovechkin beat Price at 7:50 of the second period. Ovechkin eluded Michael Ryder as he skated parallel to the blue line in search of a shooting lane. He beat Price with a shot to the top corner on the goalie’s glove side. Ovechkin has 16 goals in his last 12 games and leads the NHL goal-scoring race with 26, one more than Tampa’s Steven Stamkos.
Juggling needs work: Price needed some work on his juggling as he had trouble controlling Jack Hillen’s shot which went over his head, hit his skate and caromed into the net for a 2-1 Washington lead at 9:36 of the second period. Hillen was originally credited with the goal, but a scoring change awarded it to Eric Fehr. But Hillen did score what proved to be the winning goal in the third period. It was his first goal since Dec. 6, 2011.
Sticking to it: Brandon Prust was unable to control a pass from Alex Galchenyuk as they drove the net late in the first period. But Prust chased the puck behind the net and set up the trailing Lars Eller, who beat Neuvirth for a 1-0 lead at 15:44. Eller also scored a late third-period goal to make the final score close. Galchenyuk assisted on both goals and has a four-game point streak with two goals and three assists.
Slow start: Montreal was being outshot 9-0 when Rene Bourque had the Canadiens’ first shot on goal at 6:22 of the first period.
What’s next: The Canadiens are literally heading into a storm as they hit the road to play the Buffalo Sabres Thursday (7 p.m., RDS, TSN-690 Radio) and the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday. Ice pellets, snow and rain are forecast for the Niagara area and southern Ontario through Sunday.
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