caps IIBrendan Gallagher scored in the 5th round of the shootout and the Canadiens came from behind to edge the Washington Capitals 2-1 Thursday at the Verizon Centre.  The Capitals dominated the first period, outshooting the Canadiens 15-2, but could come away with only rookie Andre Burakovsky’s goal.  P.A. Parenteau and the Canadiens thought they had finally tied the game with 4 ½ minutes remaining in regulation time but the goal was erased by goaltender interference.  Eighty seconds later, Tomas Plekanec scored to tie the game and send it to overtime and eventually the shootout.  Before Gallagher’s winner, also scoring in the shootout were Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais.  Final shots on goal were 30-24 in favour of Washington.  The three stars were the goaltenders Dustin Tokarski & Braden Holtby plus Washington defenseman Brooks Orpik.

Adding It Up

Late to the Party – For the second straight game the Canadiens started the first period as if their skates were stuck in the mud.  In Toronto they gave up the game’s first five shots before they got things going.  It was worse on this night. The Habs were beaten soundly in every aspect of the game.  The Capitals took the game’s first 14 shots.  At the end of the first period the shots were 15-2.

The Right Decision – There were a few who wondered about the wisdom of the Peter Budaj trade.  Perish those thoughts.  This game belonged to Dustin Tokarski.  All the Capitals needed in the first period was one more first period goal and they could put the game to bed.  Tokarski wouldn’t give it to them.  He had no chance on the Burkovsky one-timer.  The other 14 shots he handled calmly especially during three Washington power plays.  By my count, the scoring chances were 9-0 in favour of Washington.

Off the Hook  Tokarski kept the Canadiens in the game, it was up to Michel Therien to come up with something to breath some life into his team.  Not liking what he was seeing from P.A. Parenteau, he moved Brendan Gallagher off the Plekanec line to play with Desharnais and Pacioretty.  Jiri Sekac moved up to the Plekanec line and Parenteau was spotted on the line with Lars Eller and Rene Bourque. After only two harmless first period shots, the Canadiens outshot the Capitals 12-7 in the second period and 22-15 through the game’s final 45 minutes.

Plekanec/Galchenyuk –  While Therrien’s moves were made mostly to crank up the Desharnais line but it was Plekanec and Galchenyuk who caught fire.  While Sekac didn’t accomplish much offensively Plekanec and Galchenyuk had a thing going.  Through the final two periods they had two shots each, three scoring chances, a total of eight hits (5 by Galchenyuk) and of course Galchenyuk set up Plekanec brilliantly for the goal.  The Canadiens have scored 5 goals so far, Plekanec has three of them with Galchenyuk on the ice for all three. eight shots on goal and five scoring chances through the final 45 minutes.  Even more impressive, there were nine hits, a team-high five by Galchenyuk.

When He’s Bad …..  When P.K. Subban is off his game, it’s there for all to see.  Two years ago, if he was struggling the way he did, especially in the first period, Michel Therrien would have nailed him to the bench.  Then was then.  Therrien’s reaction was to let him play his way out of it.  He gave Subban a game-high 28-minutes of ice time during which Subban took 8 shots (4 on goal) blocked two and recorded three hits.

capsAlso Worth Mentioning – …..One thing noticeable about Tokarski is the near total absence of rebounds which the number crunchers tell us is the root cause of more than 15% of goals scored in the NHL these days.    ……Manny Malhotra won 13 of 19 faceoffs (9 of 15 in the defensive zone).  That adds up to 68% for the game.  Overall in two games he is also at 68% winning 24 of 35.  …. Brendan Gallagher, who was among the first period invisible, responded to his promotion to the Desharnais line with four shots on goal….P.A. Parenteau, now on the third line had his first goal as a Hab taken away because of Rene Bourque’s goaltender interference.  ….Bourque had what might have been the game-winning goal on his stick with 4 ½ minutes remaining but it was disallowed after replays showed it hit the post.   …. Forty-nine seconds into the second period rookie Liam O’Brien, who sees himself as some kind of tough guy, tried to test Brandon Prust’s fighting skills and probably wished he hadn’t. ……Can’t remember Prust playing better than he is right now.  He led the Canadiens with five hits. ….The Canadiens have won the first two games of their season for the first time since they beat Toronto and Buffalo to start the 2009-2010 season.

Moving On – To Philadelphia Saturday night and then on to Tampa for Monday.  The Canadiens are already guaranteed a .500 record on their road trip.  The last time the Canadiens opened a season with three straight wins was Oct. 2005 when they recorded victories over Boston, New York Rangers in overtime and Toronto.  After being beaten by New Jersey 6-4 Thursday, the Flyers are 0-2-0 to start their season.