It wasn't pretty, but I'm sure that if you asked the Washington Capitals, they wouldn't have much to complain about in Saturday's victory.
The Capitals entered a hostile environment on a national stage and were able to gut out a 2-1 victory over an ailing Canadiens team, facing the same ordeals which plagued Washington up until Friday.
Washington was first on the board as Nicklas Backstrom netted a power play goal mid way though the first. They finished 1-4 on the mad advantage for the night.
Montreal meanwhile could not get things going offensively throughout the first part of this game. Stars like Alexei Kovalev, Alex Tanguay and former Cap Robert Lang were largely ineffective - especially on the man advantage - going 0-8 on the night. Montreal's power play has struggled greatly, and is now ranked 26th overall in the league, a unit that has been a league leader the past two years, now stagnant.
Les Habitants tied the game late in the second period on a Patrice Brisebois rocket which beat rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov over his shoulder.
The game would remain deadlocked until the final five minutes of the third period when a slumping Michael Nylander potted his third goal on the year, and his first in 26 games off the left pad of Jaroslav Halak.
Varlamov went on to stop 32 of 33 shots in his NHL debut.
-Nicklas Backstrom, Tyler Sloan and Sergei Fedorov all left the game with injuries. Backstrom seemed to be ailing from migraines, something he has had in the past, which is believed not to be serious. The status of Sloan and Fedorov is uncertain, and should be updated tomorrow.
-Simeon Varlamov looked rather impressive in his first National Hockey League game, and personally left me wishing I would be able to see more from him. He has a very aggressive style of play as he likes to get way out of his crease to challenge shooters and it worked like a charm last night as he was named the games first star. I was taken aback by the calm yet intense demeanor that he displayed, playing in arguably the toughest arena to start a professional career in, not to mention the most important night of the week in Canada. Nothing fazed him, most notably in the third period when he stopped all 14 shots he faced. The future seems bright for this young net minder.
-Washington will head to Long Island on Tuesday for their next game with the Islanders. If you are a fan up in Canada (like me), the game will be available on TSN2.
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