Canadiens Hold On To Stop Capitals Win Streak

Tomas Plekanec had two goals and Sergei Kostitsyn added three assists as the Montreal Canadiens (29-26-6) snapped the Washington Capitals (41-12-7) 14-game winning streak with a 6-5 overtime victory.

The win also snapped Washington goalie Jose Theodore's 10-game winning streak, leaving him tied for the franchise record. Theodore came on in relief of starter Michal Neuvirth, who left the game after reportedly aggravating a previous knee injury early in the second period.

Montreal played an agressive game, against a much better skilled Capitals team, getting on the scoreboard early when Scott Gomez took advantage of his team's forecheck , beating Neuvirth for his ninth goal of the season.

The Canadiens kept the pressure on, but Brooks Laich struck back just under six minutes later for Washington, slipping past a sleeping Montreal defense and putting a fancy deke on Carey Price.

Montreal kept up their aggressive play, for the rest of the period, keeping the Capitals at bay and shutting down the leagues No. 1 power play for over four minutes.

The period ended on a frightening note, when Josh Gorges attempted to block a Mike Green shot and took the blast off the side of his helmet. The team doctor rushed out immediately and after some tense minutes, Gorges got up under his own power and was escorted off the ice, bleeding from the ear area of his helmet.

"It's part of the game, but no one likes to see it," Gomez said on Gorges injury during the first period break. "He's tough and he'd want us to pick up the points, and we'll have to step it up."

The Canadiens should have more information on the extent of Gorges' injury sometime Thursday, but early prognosis is that he will be ok.

New Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier rushed down from the press box to check on the injured rear guard the moment it happened.

"The puck got him right in the helmet, you can see the indentation of the puck in the helmet," Gauthier said. "He's very lucky. But he's OK, he was chatting with the guys."

The rugged defenceman is one of only four Canadiens to have played all 60 games to this point.

Montreal's aggressive tactics continued into the second period, when a strong forecheck led to Tom Pyatt's first NHL goal at 0:41.

"It took me a while (20 games), but it's nice to get that first one out of the way," Pyatt said. "You automatically feel better when you get any kind of goal."

The Capitals, and their MVP Alexander Ovechkin responded hastily in a fashion they are known for just 30 seconds later, as Ovechkin set up Niklas Backstrom to tie the game at two.

In light of the jeers from the Bell Centre crowd, Theodore came up with some big saves against the team that gave him his start in the NHL. The former Hart and Vezina trophy winner with the Canadiens finally caved, on the power play, when David Desharnais' shot deflected off the skate of Glen Metropolit. It was followed just 12 seconds later by a Maxim Laperre goal, giving the Canadiens a two goal lead.

The Capitals thought they had a goal back, and they should have, when Ovechkin plowed into Hal Gill, knocking the Canadiens defender, Price and the puck into the net. The goal was disallowed, which drove the Capital bench ballistic. Earlier in the period, a Gill poke check on Ovechkin caused a too-many-men minor against Washington.

Montreal closed out the first forty minutes with a three goal lead, after Kostitisyn set up Plekanec's 16th goal with just over a minute  to play, and left the ice to a standing ovation.

If anything has been learned during the Capitals winning streak, is that they are a team that won't give up, just ask the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The third period showed just that as Green capitalized on an early third period power play to pull his team within two.

The Canadiens continued some exceptional play in the offensive zone, with Kostitsyn emerging as the player he was thought to be when he was drafted from the London Knights. The Belarusian set up many opportunities and had many chnaces of his own.

Coach Jacques Martin praised the play of Pyatt, who had been called up earlier in the week from the Hamilton Bulldogs.

"I liked Tom at training camp," he said. "He showed he had good speed and was a great player. He gave us a real strong game."

As a Montreal power play ended with just under 12 minutes remaining, Laich scored his second of the night on a two-on-one rush.

Washington continued to fight back, and with the net empty and 18 seconds to play, Laich found the net for the hat trick sending the game into overtime.

The Canadiens managed to keep Ovechkin and company to just two shots in the extra time, and Plekanec found the back of the net, with just eight seconds remaining, for the win.

"I liked the way we battled, especially the way we reacted in overtime," Martin said. "We came back after that late goal, and we never gave them a sniff in over time. Tonight we found a way to win it."

Martin also praised the play and character of Carey Price, who made 34 saves, some very difficult,  for the win after going two weeks without a start.

"Over the last few weeks I've been working my ass off, and looking for the rewards," Price said. "The guys played hard and they scored some goals for me against a team that likes to run and gun.

The Canadiens wil play a pair of home-at home games against the Philadelphia Flyers before the NHL shuts down for the Olympic Break.

Three stars:

1. Sergei Kostitsyn: Tied a personal best three points and a new personal mark of three assists. When asked post-game if that was the best game of his career, Kostitsyn replied, "You'll have to tell me that yourselves."

2. Brooks Laich: A hat trick in a losing cause

3. Tom Pyatt: A goal and an assist, 7 shots

Honourable Mention: Hal Gill may have played his best game in a Canadiens uniform, using his size and reach to slow down the Capitals and blocking 11 shots on the night admist the cuts and bruises.

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