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2010 Playoffs Rewind: Round 1 Game 3 — Opportunistic Capitals take the 2-1 series lead

The Canadiens had opportunities, but it would be Washington that takes control of the series on the road.

Washington Capitals v Montreal Canadiens - Game Three Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

After blowing a 4-1 lead in a 6-5 overtime loss in Game 2, the Montreal Canadiens and Jacques Martin made one change: Glen Metropolit came into the lineup and replaced Sergei Kostitsyn. Maxim Lapierre would move up to the third line as a result.

The Capitals made more changes to their three lines below the Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble line. David Steckel was sat in favour of Boyd Gordon, who missed Game 2. After coming in for Jose Theodore in Game 2, Semyon Varlamov makes his first start of the series.

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 40- Maxim Lapierre
94- Tom Pyatt 15- Glen Metropolit 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: Georges Laraque, Ryan O’Byrne, Ben Maxwell, Sergei Kostitsyn

Washington Capitals

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
8- Alex Ovechkin 19- Nicklas Backstrom 22- Mike Knuble
14- Tomas Fleischmann 18- Eric Belanger 28- Alexander Semin
21- Brooks Laich 9- Brendan Morrison 16- Eric Fehr
25- Jason Chimera 15- Boyd Gordon 10- Matt Bradley


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


40- Semyon Varlamov
60- Jose Theodore

SCRATCHES: John Erskine, Milan Jurcina, David Steckel, Scott Walker, Quintin Laing, Tyler Sloan

Full Highlights

Before the game even starts, Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire discuss how Jaroslav Halak is one of 12 Montreal players who are playing their first home playoff game at the Bell Centre.

Nerves don’t seem to be an issue for them early on. The line of Andrei Kostitsyn, Mike Cammalleri, and Tomas Plekanec start by heading directly to the offensive zone and create a scoring chance after Hal Gill’s shot gets blocked.

Nathan Ni: Despite the sour taste that game 2 left, the hope was that Montreal could recognize that they were in a good spot and let the home crowd help them build on that position. The crowd, to their credit, certainly recognized their role: I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many people shout at Hal Gill to shoot.

Jared Book: I was at this game live and this is the first time I am watching the game on TV since. I’m not even sure I watched highlights of this game before.

Midway through the first period, with Andrei Kostitsyn in the penalty box, the Canadiens show that they are ready to play. Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta combine for a shorthanded chance, but Semyon Varlamov is making the key saves to keep the score at 0-0. Shortly after, Jaroslav Spacek has a chance but was unable to beat the Capitals goaltender.

NN: Halfway through the first, and the Habs are riding that crowd momentum. The difference is, Varlamov isn’t giving up the softies that Theodore did.

JB: Gionta’s shot is almost as if he was feeling out the Capitals goaltender. He was likely out of gas anyway, but he put everything into the shot.

After the Kostitsyn penalty, both teams would have power play chances in the second half of the period. Again, Montreal had the better chances, but the score remained 0-0. Believe it or not, the Canadiens actually outshot Washington 10-7 despite the Capitals having one power play more than Montreal.

NN: Montreal plays arguably their best period of the series, but doesn’t have anything to show for it. Regression is a fickle goddess.

JB: I honestly don’t remember this game being 0-0 after one period, and I definitely don’t remember Montreal being as good as they were. You could feel the crowd was getting into it.

To start the second period, future Canadien Tomas Fleischmann would be called for hooking just 54 seconds in. It was another opportunity for the Montreal power play, that was 2/8 for the series after their miss in the first period. An early goal in the second period would be hard to overcome in a rocking building.

The Fleischmann penalty did produce a goal. Just not one most of the 21,273 in attendance would have wanted. Boyd Gordon, a healthy scratch in Game 2, starts a two-on-one. Halak makes the initial save but is slid into by Jaroslav Spacek and Gordon puts in the rebound to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

NN: I wonder if more coaches should stress: if you go down on a two-on-one, don’t slide into the goalie. Something to work on in practice?

JB: Momentum. Killer. A shorthanded goal against the run of play was not ideal, but, hey, at that point the Canadiens were the better team. Nothing to be too discouraged about.

Right after the goal, on the same power play, Brian Gionta gets another chance but Varlamov again stands tall. Scott Gomez got another chance of his own on a two-on-one as well.

NN: Varlamov didn’t look that great in game 2... now you start wondering if he’s catching fire a little bit?

JB: Remember when I was talking about those Cam Ward vibes in Game 2? Yeah. This is when they really started to intensify.

About a minute after the Gomez chance, the Capitals make it 2-0. Brooks Laich shoots from the circle with traffic in front, and less than five minutes into a period where they had a power play, Montreal was down by two.

NN: The Caps tried to get more bodies in front in game 2, and they’re going with the same route in game 3—with roughly similar results. The difference is that the Habs aren’t capitalizing on their chances at the other end.

The Canadiens are still pushing. Marc-Andre Bergeron has a shot that hits Varlamov in the mask. The rebound comes out and Andrei Kostitsyn fans on a shot that he swept him off his feet. The Capitals take the puck, come right back and score. 3-0 just 28:33 into the game.

NN: Case in point, Andrei Kostitsyn misses a golden opportunity and Washington comes down and scores. Ovechkin and Backstrom had their moment in game 2. This time, it’s the Fehrs, Laichs, etc...

JB: Man this game is frustrating to re-watch. Montreal’s not playing bad but you give a good team like Washington chances and they will convert.

That goal would do it for Halak. Carey Price comes in for his first action of the series.

NN: Logically, this is Jacques Martin looking for some sort of spark and trying to salvage game 3. Even if Halak’s allowed 9 goals in the last four and a half periods, he wasn’t playing badly. Of course, then Price started game 4... so maybe Martin was trying to recapture 2007 Carey?

JB: Hey it worked for Washington. At this point you felt like something had to give. Halak wasn’t playing badly but he wasn’t making key saves, either. Looking back, it’s funny that we’re lamenting Halak not making the big save but hey, when this goal went in — even knowing the results — I was expecting the goalie change, too.

Can the concussion spotter retroactively pull Varlamov, too?

Also the Bell Centre crowd cheering Price coming in for Halak. This is a weird parallel universe or something.

The Canadiens defence isn’t playing any better in front of Price, and leaving Alex Ovechkin alone in the slot is a bad idea. 4-0 Washington.

NN: Well, Operation Spark the Team didn’t work. It’s a little pithy to say “giving Ovechkin time and space in the slot is a bad idea”... but it really is.

JB: I mean if Dale Weise doesn’t miss from there, neither does Ovechkin.

The period ends without another goal, which is almost a minor miracle considering Brian Gionta took a cross checking penalty, Scott Gomez took a 10 minute misconduct, and Tomas Plekanec took a double minor for interference and unsportsmanlike conduct in a 2:47 span. That’s a lot of penalty killers.

NN: So, the Habs played a great first period and had nothing to show for it. They allow a shorthanded goal on a fluky play where their defenceman takes the goalie out of the play. The floodgates don’t open right away, but the opposition piles up the goals as the Canadiens miss chance after chance... and suddenly it’s 4-0. What year is this again?

JB: The parade to the penalty box showed the Canadiens were clearly frustrated. There would be no comeback in this one.

The Canadiens would actually get another early power play to start the third period. This time, it would result in a goal. A pass to the slot bounced off something and Plekanec pounced on the loose puck to slide it by an out-of-position Varlamov.

NN: Man, that power play is a thing of beauty when it clicks, and back then, it clicked a lot.

JB: Maybe there would be a comeback? There was still over 17 minutes, after all...

Montreal would get yet another power play opportunity two minutes after the Plekanec goal, but nothing would happen. The teams would trade penalties, but there would be no scoring until the final minute when some good old fashioned “cafouillage” in the Canadiens zone led to a goal by Matt Bradley.

NN: Well, that pretty much sums up the night. Sloppy breakout pass, loose defending, goalie left to face two or three shots alone, fourth line player scores the goal.

JB: I know Nathan said it earlier, but, really, what year is this?

NN: For the first time in this series, the Habs were put under real adversity, and they buckled under the pressure. That said, the team had their chances, but desperately needed to regain their composure and poise for Game 4... or else the series could be over in five.

JB: For the positives that existed in spurts in this game, this is where you kind of felt resigned to the fact that the better team was going to end up winning the series. The Canadiens needed to be opportunistic to win like they were in Game 1 and early in Game 2.

Not really much optimism heading into Game 4.

Looking at the time on ice, and, man was it weird. Glen Metropolit, on a night the Capitals bottom six scored four goals, played only 5:37. Mathieu Darche played 2:22. Tom Pyatt played five of his seven minutes shorthanded — only 2:23 at even strength. All this despite last change.

Price ended up making 21/23 saves, while Halak was 10/13.