Nobody said it would be easy.
The Montreal Canadiens did what they set out to do last night in a capacity-filled Verizon Center – steal a win in the Washington Capitals home building. Oh, and they shut down some guy named Ovechkin, too.
Tomas Plekanec silenced the crowd just over 13 minutes into the first overtime, corralling a bobbling puck and sending it end-for-end over Caps goalie Jose Theodore’s left shoulder. “We were screwing around with [the puck] instead of taking it back and setting it up and coming out,” said Coach Bruce Boudreau after the game. “They came up and our defense was caught in transition so they backed up so Plekanec got a chance to walk into the top of the circle and he had a perfect shot.”
Most notably on the night, however, was the fact that star winger Alex Ovechkin was held to zero shots on goal. You heard right: zero, nothing, nada. “He didn’t play good. I mean, they gapped up on him really well, but I don’t think Alex played very well,” said Boudreau. “I can’t put my finger on it right now, but when you get 50 shots on goal and Ovechkin doesn’t get any and you have four power plays… They took him away pretty good, but I just didn’t think he was very good tonight.” Indeed, Ovechkin was shadowed nearly all night long by veteran Habs defenseman Jaroslav Spacek, who shut down the star forward every chance he could.
The Caps came out with jump for the first period, tying the game up with a Joe Corvo wrister from the blue line. The Caps took the lead right out of the gate in the opening minute of the third period from Nicklas Backstrom, off a great drop pass from Mike Knuble. However, the Habs tied it up with a Scott Gomez tap-in and the Canadiens held on to force overtime.
So is there cause for worry? Not at all, according to Caps forward Boyd Gordon. “We don’t want to beat ourselves up. We probably have to be a little more aggressive,” he said. “We’ve got to battle just as hard. We’re going to have to come out a little better for Game Two.” Ovechkin echoed the sentiment. “It’s okay. It’s one game. We’ll have 24 hours to think about what we did wrong.”
Game 2 is Saturday, 7 pm, at the Verizon Center.