The Washington Capitals’ Marco Sturm scored at 1:24 of the first period and his teammates made it standup in a 2-0 win over the Canadiens at the Bell Centre Saturday night.  It was the third consecutive game in which the Canadiens failed to score a goal, a streak that has now run 186 minutes and 5 seconds. 

Alexander Semin scored the clinching goal with 3:41 remaining.  Braden Holtby faced only 18 shots en route to his second shutout of the season.  The New York Rangers took advantage of the Canadiens loss to move into a points tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference and eighth place Buffalo is now only two points behind the Rangers and Canadiens with a game in hand. 

Summing It Up –

….The week has been an absolute loss.  Three defeats and no goals scored.  Slumps tend to feed on themselves and the Canadiens game has appeared to deteriorate game by game as the week progressed.   The best they could muster was eighteen shots against  the Capitals, who were playing their second game in twenty-four hours.

….Jacques Martin talked about “the process” in his post game news conference.  He constantly preaches good defensive support with five players close to the puck at all times.  That part of the game has disappeared for the moment.  The lack of concerted effort manifested itself in the Canadiens inability get the puck out of their own end for long stretches, especially in the first half of the game.

….The sellout crowd took to booing Scott Gomez in the late stages of the game and they had reason.  But Gomez isn’t the only problem with the team.  He was probably the focal point for what is clearly a dysfunctional team effort. 

….Not helping is the poor play of the Canadiens special teams.  The Canadiens were hit with a momentum-destroying four consecutive penalties to start the game.  They managed to kill those, which is good, but when they finally had three opportunities later in the game, but were unable to generate any pressure.  That problem has become long term.    Over the last nine games the Canadiens power play is 2-for-30 – 6.6%.

….They weren’t all passengers.  Andrei Kostitsyn is the Canadiens best forward right now.  He spent the first two periods with Gomez and Brian Gionta before joining Eller and Desharnais for the third.  Lars Eller was very aggressive but is not as effective offensively playing the wing, witness the fact that he did not even attempt a shot in the game.  Brian Gionta looked good again, but he’s not getting the puck in good scoring areas because of the problems Gomez is having with his game right now.  He led the Canadiens with hits with five, including two hard checks on Capitals defenseman John Erskine. Seems to me James Wisniewski was the Canadiens defenseman.  And Carey Price, bounced  back to put in a good effort in goal, stopping 31 of 33 shots.

….Where do you start with the negatives.  Gomez is the whipping boy.  Cammalleri is hurt, there’s no question about that.  There’s an ankle problem and the suspicion that he might have come back a little early from the shoulder separation.  Plekanec didn’t do much of anything, which might be chalked up to the back problems that caused him to miss four games.  These are critical components of the team.  Andrei Kostitsyn can’t carry the offense all by himself.

….The Canadiens play the Atlanta Thrashers at the Bell Centre Tuesday.  After that they play four of their final five games on the road starting in Carolina twenty-four hours later.  If they don’t get their game together, a third straight eighth place Eastern Conference finish looms very large although we’re unlikely to have the final weekend drama we’ve had the last two years.

The Goalscorers – Washington – Sturm (5th) (Backstrom-Semin); Semin (26th) (Backstrom-Sturm)      Canadiens – none

Shots on Goal – Capitals   12-14-7 = 33    Canadiens   3-8-7 = 18.

The Three Stars – First – Carey Price (stopped 31 of 33 shots);  Second – Braden Holtby (shutout – 18 saves);   Third – Marco Sturm (1 goal, 1 assist- plus 2 – 3 shots on goal)

The Standings after Tuesday’s Games –

                              GP    Pts.                   Next Game

1st  -Philadelphia   74    100**                 vs. Boston Sunday

2nd –Washington  76    98**  –                vs. Carolina Tuesday

3rd – Boston           74     92**                   @ Philadelphia Sunday

4th – Pittsburgh     75     96                      vs.Florida Sunday

5th – Tampa Bay    75     91                      vs. Ottawa Tuesday

6th –  Canadiens  76    87                    vs. Atlanta Tuesday

7th  – NY Rangers   76     87                    @ Buffalo Wednesday

8th –  Buffalo           75     85                     @Toronto Tuesday

9th –  Carolina         75    80                     @ Washington Tuesday   

10th-Toronto           76    78                      vs. Buffalo Tuesday

The Fenwick/Corsi Numbers  

Game Number Team Player Number Goals Saved shots Missed Shots Fenwick+/- Blocked Shots Corsi+/-
21119 MTL 11 – C – GOMEZ, SCOTT 0 1 3 9 4 4 -7 3 3 -7
21119 MTL 13 – L – CAMMALLERI, MICHAEL 0 1 5 10 3 0 -3 9 1 5
21119 MTL 14 – C – PLEKANEC, TOMAS 0 1 6 10 4 0 -1 7 1 5
21119 MTL 15 – C – HALPERN, JEFF 0 0 5 6 2 1 0 7 1 6
21119 MTL 20 – D – WISNIEWSKI, JAMES 0 0 7 16 7 3 -5 2 4 -7
21119 MTL 21 – R – GIONTA, BRIAN 0 1 3 9 4 3 -6 2 2 -6
21119 MTL 22 – D – MARA, PAUL 0 0 4 9 2 2 -5 2 3 -6
21119 MTL 31 – G – PRICE, CAREY 0 2 13 26 10 9 -14 13 9 -10
21119 MTL 32 – L – MOEN, TRAVIS 0 2 4 7 3 1 -3 2 1 -2
21119 MTL 44 – D – HAMRLIK, ROMAN 0 1 7 8 4 3 -1 3 6 -4
21119 MTL 46 – L – KOSTITSYN, ANDREI 0 0 4 9 5 5 -5 3 2 -4
21119 MTL 52 – L – DARCHE, MATHIEU 0 0 1 2 0 2 -3 1 0 -2
21119 MTL 53 – C – WHITE, RYAN 0 0 1 4 1 2 -4 0 4 -8
21119 MTL 55 – D – SOPEL, BRENT 0 1 4 8 2 2 -5 4 5 -6
21119 MTL 57 – L – POULIOT, BENOIT 0 0 1 2 2 1 0 0 4 -4
21119 MTL 58 – C – DESHARNAIS, DAVID 0 0 4 6 2 3 -3 2 5 -6
21119 MTL 75 – D – GILL, HAL 0 1 2 4 1 4 -6 7 0 1
21119 MTL 76 – D – SUBBAN, P.K. 0 1 2 8 4 4 -7 8 0 1
21119 MTL 81 – C – ELLER, LARS 0 0 2 2 0 5 -5 3 3 -5