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2010 Playoffs Rewind: Round 1 Game 2 — It was 4-1

The Canadiens had a chance to take a 2-0 series lead, but Andrei Kostitsyn’s hat trick goes for naught.

Montreal Canadiens vs Washington Capitals Chuck Myers/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

After an overtime win in Game 1, the Canadiens used the same lineup in the second game. Washington made one lineup change as the veteran Brendan Morrison came in for Boyd Gordon. Bruce Boudreau also shook up the bottom three lines.

Montreal Canadiens

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
13- Mike Cammalleri 14- Tomas Plekanec 46- Andrei Kostitsyn
57- Benoit Pouliot 91- Scott Gomez 21- Brian Gionta
32- Travis Moen 42- Dominic Moore 74- Sergei Kostitsyn
94- Tom Pyatt 40- Maxim Lapierre 52- Mathieu Darche


Left Defence Right Defence
Left Defence Right Defence
79- Andrei Markov 47- Marc-Andre Bergeron
44- Roman Hamrlik 6- Jaroslav Spacek
75- Hal Gill 26- Josh Gorges


41- Jaroslav Halak
31- Carey Price

SCRATCHES: Glen Metropolit, Georges Laraque, Ryan O’Byrne, Ben Maxwell

Washington Capitals

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
8- Alex Ovechkin 19- Nicklas Backstrom 22- Mike Knuble
21- Brooks Laich 9- Brendan Morrison 28- Alexander Semin
25- Jason Chimera 18- Eric Belanger 10- Matt Bradley
14- Tomas Fleischmann 39- David Steckel 16- Eric Fehr


Left Defence Right Defence
Left Defence Right Defence
55- Jeff Schultz 52- Mike Green
3- Tom Poti 74- John Carlson
26- Shaone Morrisonn 77- Joe Corvo


60- Jose Theodore
40- Semyon Varlamov

SCRATCHES: John Erskine, Boyd Gordon, Milan Jurcina, Scott Walker, Quintin Laing, Tyler Sloan

Full Highlights

The Canadiens got off to a great start in Game 2. Just one minute into the game, Brian Gionta fired a harmless looking shot that fooled Jose Theodore, to give the Canadiens a 1-0 lead.

Nathan Ni: The Capitals clearly wanted to erase game 1 — Ovechkin laid out Marc-Andre Bergeron and Andrei Markov with big hits in rapid succession within the first minute — but Theodore let them down here. The puck was rolling, but he needs to have that shot. It squeezes between his arm and his body, and that’s never a place you want to get beat as a goalie.

Jared Book: You couldn’t have asked for a better start, honestly. Montreal was playing confident even if they were overmatched, and having a lead allows them to play their style to the fullest.

If Washington is affected at all by that early goal, they don’t show it. Red shirts swarm the Montreal zone in waves, and it’s clear that Bruce Boudreau has emphasized traffic and net-front presence to his charges between games. Still, Jaroslav Halak holds the fort. In an echo of game 1, through eight minutes of play, the Canadiens have only one shot on goal.

Their second would be just as effective as their first.

Just when the game seemed to be snowballing for the Capitals, Andrei Kostitsyn intercepts a breakout attempt and rushes in. With Michael Cammalleri to his left and Tomas Plekanec to his right, the older brother rips a wrister off the post and beyond a bewildered Theodore. Two shots, two goals, and the night — and the series — was over for the former Hart Trophy winner.

NN: At the time, I think I was feeling mostly euphoria. A game in hand, two goals up, this wasn’t supposed to be happening in anyone’s wildest dreams. Rewatching it as someone who’s older (and perhaps much more cynical), there was ample space for concern. If Washington had a decent netminder, this game would be 0-0.

JB: I was laughing when re-watching the game. The ticker kept showing shots on goal and had Montreal at one, and I knew a second goal was coming soon. Surely Theodore didn’t get pulled without making a save. Now that I see it again, I do recall that. The broadcast talks about the Capitals having awful gap control and it’s true. Kostitsyn had all the time in the world.

In comes sophomore Semyon Varlamov, hoping to replicate his heroics from last season. His first save is met by a loud (only partially sarcastic) cheer from the Verizon Center faithful.

JB: See for me, this is where I was concerned in retrospect. I have seen this movie before. The Canadiens went up 2-0 in games on the Carolina Hurricanes back in 2006, then they turned to Cam Ward and the rest was history. When Varlamov came in, I was already thinking about that even though Montreal hadn’t even won the game yet.

Knowing what we know now, it turns out Theodore wasn’t passing the torch to Varlamov. He passed it across the ice to Halak.

The Capitals responded to going down 1-0 by putting their heads down and going up a gear. Their response to going 2-0 is much more panicked, and as a result, the Canadiens enjoy their best offensive stretch so far. But then the Habs throw Washington a lifeline. The elder Kostitsyn cannot corral Andrei Markov’s saucer pass in the offensive zone, and this sends Eric Fehr off to the races. In alone on Halak, Fehr makes no mistake and breathes new life into D.C.

NN: This was a momentum killer—at least temporarily. Not only did the Caps have a goal now, they didn’t even have to work for it.

JB: The notable thing for me was that right before the goal, the announcers were saying how Boudreau was trying to get Ovechkin against Gomez’s line. He already knew that Plekanec wasn’t the best matchup.

You never want to give really good teams hope. In order to upset teams you have to suck all hope out of them. That’s how you overcome a talent gap. This goal proved how fine the line can be.

Washington spends a full minute camped in the Montreal zone on the very next shift and the Habs face an uphill struggle to regain a footing in the game. To their credit, within a few minutes, the flow of the game is much more even, and the Canadiens begin to pressure the young goalie at the opposite end of the ice. Washington throws a flurry of pucks at Halak at the horn, but the first period ends 2-1 Canadiens.

NN: The Habs did a great job blocking shots—not just on Ovechkin, but the whole Washington team—and seemed to get better at it as the period progressed. Still, the game was in the balance, especially since Varlamov had his bearings now.

Thirty-seven seconds into the second period, Eric Belanger trips Cammalleri in the Montreal zone and the Habs get the first power play of the game. Not much happens other than Andrei Kostitsyn getting blatantly tripped about half way through.

NN: Bruce Boudreau used Alexander Semin as a penalty killer? Seriously?

The period continues and Washington struggles to get clean shooting lanes. Ovechkin gets a rare look, but it’s from a long way out and Halak makes the routine save. Scott Gomez then picks Semin’s pocket behind his own net and feeds it out front to Benoit Pouliot, but Varlamov is up to the challenge. After trading a few rushes, Plekanec hits the crossbar from a tight angle.

NN: The Habs seem to have erased whatever the Caps gained from the Fehr goal, and their willingness to move their feet are causing Washington fits.

JB: Looking back, that’s what is most jarring for me and I think that gets lost over time. Obviously Halak was great, but this team did a lot of positive things and never, ever gave up. When you think momentum shifted, they somehow found a way to dig deep.

With just over half the period elapsed, Andrei Kostitsyn banks the puck into the Washington zone for Plekanec to chase. Plekanec evades two Capitals and sends the puck down low for Cammalleri. Somehow, Kostitsyn finds himself all alone between four red shirts. Cammalleri centres the puck and the Belarusian makes no mistake, putting away his second goal of the game and giving the Canadiens a two goal advantage.

NN: It really looked simple. Find the open ice. Move the puck to where players will be, not where they are. That line had some real chemistry.

JB: Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn don’t get enough credit for how they played. Cammalleri gets the recognition because of the goals but man... Notice how Montreal is winning so many pucks even though they are the smaller team.

The teams trade rushes with few clear chances for the next several minutes, and then Cammalleri is tripped up again in the Montreal zone. The Habs go to the power play with less than four minutes left in the period.

NN: The Versus play-by-play team has been hammering the Caps for poor attention to detail and following the play instead of pre-emptively reacting to it. So far, especially given the two offensive zone tripping minors, I’m inclined to agree.

The Habs don’t get much going for the first minute, but then Pouliot aggressively drives the net and the puck rolls up one side of Varlamov and down the other before being cleared. Doesn’t matter though, because 30 seconds later, Jaroslav Spacek hammers a shot from the point that bounces off Jeff Schultz’s stick, then Mike Green’s body, and trickles behind Varlamov. A lengthy review follows, but it turns out they were only looking at the Pouliot incident. 4-1 Canadiens.

NN: “Upon further review, we were looking at a play earlier in the period to see if it was a goal. This one was in the net. We have a good goal.” Oooookay.

JB: I mean the last thing you would want is to give the Capitals more time to come back, or something? That euphoria that Nathan was feeling earlier? I’m feeling it now. The Cam Ward flashbacks are gone.

The Habs may have been lulled into a false sense of security, as on the subsequent shift, Nicklas Backstrom drives a seemingly harmless slapper past Halak to make it 4-2. Mike Knuble’s jersey is literally touching Halak’s helmet, but the referees don’t see enough physical contact to deem it interference.

JB: Good thing nothing bad happens when you give up a quick goal late in a period, right? tugs collar

They almost make it 4-3 before the period is out. First, Tom Poti whacks a shot from three feet out right off Halak’s stick while the goalie was looking elsewhere. Then the ensuing goalmouth scramble is blown dead for a Washington hand pass with four Canadiens on the ice and a wide open cage. The replay indicates that it might have been a Montreal glove that propelled the puck, not a Washington one.

The mask is starting to slip and the Habs can’t get out of the period without additional events, as Cammalleri takes a slashing penalty on the forecheck with 20.8 seconds to go. Washington doesn’t score, but will start the third with 100 seconds or so remaining on the man advantage.

NN: This is what teams with elite offensive talent can do. Montreal took their foot off the gas at 4-1 with two minutes to go in the period, and within that span, Washington scored a goal, could have had one or two more, and drew a penalty. I think this two minute stretch ultimately was the difference between a comfortable win and a 2-0 series lead and the eventual outcome.

JB: The Capitals played the last 22 minutes of the game like it was a Game 7. I think they knew that going back to Montreal down 0-2 was a recipe for disaster.

Andrei Kostitsyn was given credit for Montreal’s fourth goal just before the intermission, making him the scorer of the Canadiens’ first hat trick since Eric Desjardins in 1993. Washington doesn’t care one bit as they storm Halak’s net looking to cut the deficit to one. The penalty killers yield a couple of chances, but hold firm in the end.

JB: Who honestly remembered that Andrei Kostitsyn had a hat trick in this game? Honestly? If the Canadiens won this game he’d be a hero. Instead he’s a footnote. Kostitsyn never lived up to his draft position but he had some good moments with the Canadiens.

The Capitals don’t let up though, and their pressure yields dividends a mere two minutes later. Mathieu Darche can’t clear the zone, and John Carlson sends a slapshot on Halak. Halak looks to have it, but Alex Ovechkin taps him on the pads, and that force is enough to send the puck trickling into the net.

NN: This goal is on Darche. Not only does he botch the clearance, he slides right through Carlson’s shooting lane on his belly, making only a half-hearted swipe at the rookie with his stick.

JB: This is where I’ll note that Darche played a team-low 7:46 in the game.

The very next shift, with the building buzzing, Gionta sends Pouliot in on a half breakaway. Varlamov makes the save, but the future captain is there to clean up the rebound. Unfortunately, Mike Green had brought down Pouliot, sending the pair into the post and knocking the net off its moorings. After the play, Gionta, Gomez, and Markov all take turns going after Ovechkin. After further discussion, Gomez and Tom Poti drop the gloves.

NN: This is the first time in the series that emotions have boiled over, and while I understand Montreal’s need to stem the tide, I feel like this is just going to play into the hands of a Washington team that has adrenaline oozing out of its pores at the moment.

JB: Scott... Gomez... dropped... the... gloves?

Semin then takes the Capitals’ third offensive zone minor of the game. Roared home by a crowd that increases in volume with every clear, Washington kills off the penalty without any fuss.

NN: “Semin takes a bad penalty.” I feel like that won’t be the last time we hear that.

The pace of the game ramps up as the two teams trade rushes. Just before the halfway mark, Ovechkin carries the puck into the Canadiens zone. Roman Hamrlik does a good job of riding him away from the danger area, but loses track of the puck. This allows Ovechkin to fire a pass into the slot right where Nicklas Backstrom is wide open. It’s a 4-4 game.

NN: Just like before, the Canadiens had mostly weathered the Capitals storm and restored some level of parity. But they made two mistakes on this play: Hamrlik loses the puck and Plekanec loses the man-and just like that, a three goal lead was gone. If you had asked the team before the series started whether they would take a 1-0 series lead and a tie game with 10 minutes to go in the third, most of them would have probably said yes. But this is definitely not the way they wanted to get to this point.

JB: This may very well be the original ‘It was 4-1’ game. Fortunately, it wasn’t Game 7.

After killing off a Hal Gill penalty, Montreal replies with five minutes remaining. Andrei Kostitsyn chips the puck off the boards towards Plekanec. The Czech can’t reach it, but is close enough to block Mike Green’s attempted clearance. Now with a two-on-one, Plekanec slides it over to Cammalleri, who gets in too close to get a clean shot off, but manages to slide it back to Plekanec for an easy tap-in.

NN: This Canadiens team does not give up, and they do not get flustered. Many other teams would have melted away after giving up a three-goal lead, but Montreal has repeatedly brought back a game that has threatened to get away from them on multiple occasions.

JB: How many underdogs would blow a 4-1 lead and then still manage to get back on their feet to take a 5-4 lead? Even in defeat this team showed signs of resilience.

For all of their fortitude, the Habs aren’t helping their own cause very much. Benoit Pouliot takes a tripping penalty 23 seconds after his team re-took the lead. Montreal’s penalty killing steps up once again, but with 1:21 on the clock, John Carlson snaps a wrister past both Josh Gorges and Halak.

NN: That was a heartbreaker. The Habs were doing such a good job at killing off the clock, but Plekanec doesn’t slow up Backstrom in the neutral zone and that lets the playmaker enter the zone with speed and push the defenders back, giving Carlson space for the shot. As harsh as it is, Halak needed to have that one too. He makes up for it later, I suppose.

The rest of regulation time is uneventful, and with 10 goals in the books, the teams head to the locker room to prepare for a second overtime in as many games.

JB: If you felt that the loss was inevitable when it became 4-4, it became doubly so at 5-5. In the back of your head, though you knew in overtime anything could happen...

Overtime was over in the blink of an eye. Half a minute in, Backstrom takes a hard wrist shot from a relatively benign location. Halak is a little slow to react, down a little early, and the puck beats him high glove. 6-5 Washington is your final score, and the Canadiens are left to rue what could have been.

JB: Yeah... About that... At least they made it quick?

NN: It was disappointing to not have a 2-0 lead coming back to Montreal. Yes, a few days prior, such a statement would have been insane, yet the Canadiens had a 4-1 lead with 22 minutes remaining. They had a 5-4 lead with 90 seconds remaining. If game 1 offered hope, game 2 was perhaps a stark indicator that when Washington was firing on all cylinders, the Canadiens didn’t have an answer. They would have to create one sooner rather than later.

JB: There’s nothing worse than a quick overtime goal against. You wait an entire intermission for that? They could have done that without the zamboni.

Like Nathan said above, this game was a huge disappointment but the big picture still isn’t so bad. The Canadiens were huge underdogs and are going home tied 1-1. On a personal note, I had tickets for Game 3. Not all was lost.