“Last night I didn’t feel well, today I feel normal,” Alex Ovechkin said this morning.
Well he felt very normal today as Alex Ovechkin was flying in helping to lead the 4-1 charge pass the Montreal Canadiens, who the Caps have outscored this year 10-1 in three wins, in a game the Capitals needed to have to stay in the playoff chase.
“Every point is an important point,” Ovechkin said. “Everybody understands that and everybody concentrated on the game.”
Ovechkin, who missed last game with a “lower-body injury” had his team high 25th goal of the season and two hits in 17:43 of ice time. Ovechkin though showed why he is the Captain as he was all over the ice tonight and had tons of velocity skating and on his shot, it didn’t even look like he was hurt.
Mathieu Perreault started the scoring off tonight for the Caps when he put in his 11th of the season early in the first period. It was the first time the Caps have scored a first period goal in their previous seven games and it was the first time the Caps have scored the first goal of the game in their previous six games. Perreault has been on fire with four points, two goals and two assists, in his last six games and has owned his hometown team netting three goals and two assists in six career games against them.
“The line of Chimmer [Jason Chimera] and Matty P [Perreault] and Semin [Alexander Semin] have been, for the last couple games, carrying the bulk of it,” Capitals veteran Brooks Laich said. It takes a lot of heat off Ovi [Ovechkin] and off Marcus [Marcus Johansson], if we can chip in, our line and the fourth line too, chip in with a goal, spread it out a little bit, really takes the heat off the top guys, then you’re a very tough team to beat.”
Chimera got his 16th goal of the season, one off a career high, off of a breakaway beating Carey Price five hole and he knew the significance of this game and getting off to a good start.
“It’s a huge win for us,” Chimera said. “You got to get that goal early, we got one tonight and you can see us kind of build some confidence off of that.”
Ovechkin put in his goal 16 seconds later in the second period off of a great one time pass by Dmitry Orlov and the Caps pretty much put the game out of reach for the struggling Canadiens.
Michal Neuvirth got his first home start since December 20th and took full advantage in stopping 30 of 31 shots and helping the Caps penalty kill stop all four penalties.
“He was solid. He was real solid,” Hunter said on Neuvirth. “He didn’t give up many rebounds and I thought the D[defense] did a good job in front of him, not giving them any scoring chances either.”
The Caps special teams though weren’t perfect as they went 0 for 6 on the power play and the lone Montreal goal, was a shorthanded one by Rene Bourque.
“I felt good the whole game,” Neuvirth said. “We gave up a scoring chance on our power play. We’ve got to be better on that.”
Joel Ward ended the Caps scoring with an empty netter for his sixth goal of the season and his first since January 7th.
All in all it was a big win for the Caps, they had a great forecheck for most of the game, took good shots and moved the puck out of their zone as well as they’ve done in a long time. But they were also playing the Montreal Canadiens, who are last in the Eastern Conference, and will have a much stiffer test tomorrow in Toronto against a team they are fighting with for the last playoff spot and on the road where they’ve struggled all season long.
“It’s [a] win. It’s over now,” Hunter said. “We are battling with Toronto and it’s a big two points.”
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Alex Ovechkin, Jason Chimera, Brooks Laich, Mathieu Perreault, Michal Neuvirth and Matt Hendricks had to say following the big win.
1st 6:58 Perreault (11), Chimera (14)
2nd 8:42 Chimera (16), Semin (24)
2nd 8:58 Ovechkin (25), Orlov (9), Johansson (21)
3rd 19:24 EN Ward (6), Laich (19), Carlson (21)
Dale Hunter Postgame Audio
Alex Ovechkin Postgame Audio
Jason Chimera Postgame Audio
Brooks Laich Postgame Audio
Mathieu Perreault Postgame Audio
Michal Neuvirth Postgame Audio
Matt Hendricks Postgame Audio