Trailing 1-0 after Nick Suzuki’s goal, the Capitals got a well-deserved spark on special teams that led to three goals in the second period.
“They came at us, got a lot of good shots…they kind of got the better of us in the second,” said Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin. “I think we had a good start in the first and obviously a good third period. It stings a bit that way, but they’re a team with experience and a lot of chemistry, and they’re going to find ways to get goals.
After failing to convert their first nine power-play opportunities of the season, the Capitals made some adjustments to the best power-play unit, placing Dylan Strome on the half-wall and replacing Evgeny Kuznetsov with Marcus Johansson. That group finally broke through when Oshie came up front and buried a rebound on Alex Ovechkin’s shot to make it 3-1.
“It was tough, but I think the power play did a really good job moving the pucks around,” Laviolette said. “I think there were a lot of chances on the power play. We scored, they moved it really well and generated looks everywhere. It was really positive to see.
Along with his team-leading goal and five shots, Oshie had an assist on Anthony Mantha’s goal that came off Sam Montembeault. Oshie, 35, who underwent surgery before the season and struggled with an upper-body injury in the preseason, has three points in three games.
Darcy Kuemper also bounced back for a solid performance in his second game between the posts for the Capitals. After allowing four goals on 29 shots in his Washington debut on Wednesday against Boston, the 32-year-old – fresh off a Stanley Cup in Colorado – looked much livelier against Montreal. He finished the night with 21 saves.
“Just for the team to feel that sense of victory is huge for the future,” Kuemper said. “It’s good for morale and confidence with the upcoming schedule.”
Montembeault made 26 saves on 29 shots for the Canadiens, who fell to 1-2-0 to start the season.
It looks like Ovechkin scored his first goal of the season after netting Erik Gustafsson’s shot from the point, but it was ruled out after a challenge from a coach for offside. Ovechkin finished the night with five shots on goal and hit the post on an empty-net attempt, but was kept off the scoresheet again. It’s the first time since the 2012-13 lockout year that Ovechkin has gone three consecutive scoreless games to open a season.
NOTES: Arber Xhekaj had an assist on Suzuki’s goal for his first career NHL point, … Suzuki and Cole Caufield have three points in three games. … Mantha and Kaiden Guhle dropped the gloves late in the third period.
Canadiens: Host Pittsburgh on Monday night.
Capitals: Host former coach Bruce Boudreau and the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night.
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Sammi Silber, Associated Press