The Capitals had their best season in franchise history and won the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time, while the Canadiens didn’t secure a playoff berth until the next-to-last day. Washington had 313 goals, the most by a team since 1995-96. It also led the NHL with 213 5-on-5 goals, while Montreal was last with 132.
Sure enough, the Capitals were outshooting the Canadiens 7-0 after 6 minutes, and Ovechkin was throwing himself about the ice.
But the Canadiens’ power play was solid — ranking second only behind the Capitals’ — and it paid off after Nicklas Backstrom took an unwise retaliation penalty for cross-checking Spacek midway through the first period.
Twenty-five seconds later, Cammalleri took Andrei Markov’s pass and beat Theodore stick side with a drive from the right circle.
The Capitals tied it later in the period on Joe Corvo’s wrister from the blue line. Washington outshot the Canadiens 19-7 in the first 20 minutes.
The flow of play was more to the Canadiens’ liking in the second, but the visitors couldn’t capitalize. Backstrom, who spent much of the last few days in bed with an illness, gave the Capitals the lead 47 seconds into the third period, but Montreal tied it again when Scott Gomez got behind defenseman Mike Green to tap in Brian Gionta’s pass with about 12½ minutes left in regulation.
“In the second period they pushed pretty hard, and I think we let them in the game a little bit,” Backstrom said. “And that’s something we can’t do.”
NOTES: Perhaps the Canadiens drew inspiration from Wednesday’s results, when three of four games were won by lower-seeded teams — and the fourth was widely considered an upset, too. “It’s been talked about. I don’t think it is anything new to anybody, but it reaffirms to you that anything can happen,” Cammalleri said after the morning’s skate. Unfortunately, Cammalleri couldn’t watch those Wednesday games because he couldn’t get them on the TV in his hotel room. “Happened to me last year, too,” he said. ... The Capitals sold out every game this season for the first time, and 18,000 red-clad, towel-waving fans got going from the moment that the Stanley Cup was shown on the video screen before the game, accompanied by the words “Nothing Else Matters.”
PHT: After the Rangers and Bruins face off in Game 3 of their series (7:30 p.m. ET; Live Extra, NBCSN), the Kings and Sharks play (10 ET; Live Extra, NBCSN) Game 4 of theirs.
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