The Montreal Canadiens went up against the Capitals in hopes of halting their extended losing streak at five games. They did just that.
After a demoralizing loss to the last place Detroit Red Wings, the Montreal Canadiens, all but out of the playoff race, were looking to regain their confidence and break out of their third longest losing streak of the season.
Artturi Lehkonen being scratched led to many questions amongst Canadiens fans and media alike given that the trade deadline is approaching. However, he just made a healthy scratch by head coach Claude Julien.
Lehkonen is by no means an offensive juggernaut but considering what he provides in his two-way game makes this decision questionable and not one many may side with Claude Julien on.
Though Lehkonen was out of the lineup, another fan favourite, Brendan Gallagher made his return.
An early breakaway by forward Max Domi was stopped but this was still a part of the energy the Canadiens were showing early in the game. Although they’re all but out of the playoffs, they still have their pride to play for.
The Washington Capitals came out early on with a very physical game and added the Habs injury woes this season with Xavier Ouellet going off the bench just three minutes into the first period.
Alex Ovechkin opened the scoring at the 7:29 mark for his 41st bringing him just a single goal shy of the 700 goal plateau.
Jonathan Drouin took a penalty but almost made up for it by bursting out of the penalty box with speed and coming close to a goal on the wraparound. The game by game improvements are becoming more noticeable for Drouin.
Shea Weber scored his 14th goal this season to tie things up 1-1 with 2:11 remaining in the first. It was a typical Weber blast from the point that cleanly beat Braden Holtby.
Paul Byron in just his second game back since missing significant time due to his injury had another high-danger scoring chance in the second. It’s nice seeing him slot back into the lineup as if he never left.
The Canadiens were able to take advantage of some surprisingly sloppy play by the Capitals, however former Hab Lars Eller halted this effort by giving the Capitals a 2-1 lead.
Brendan Gallagher quickly responded for Canadiens by tying the game up at 2-2 going into the third period. This was Gallagher’s 20th goal of the season and it was a typical Gallagher goal, banging away at a rebound just a few feet in front of the opposing goal until the puck crept over the line.
The third period opened with a quick goal by Canadiens defenceman Ben Chiarot. The Canadiens looked to have a jump to their game in this third period that’s been missing the past few games.
The Montreal Canadiens played an almost complete two-way game for the majority of the third period but when the Capitals pulled Braden Holtby from goal, the Habs weren’t able to clear the puck leading to a Tom Wilson goal to tie up the game 3-3.
It didn’t take long in overtime for Ben Chiarot to score his second goal of the night and win it for the Montreal Canadiens who snapped their 5-game losing streak.
In the grand scheme of things, a win for the Montreal Canadiens won’t move the needle much as their playoff hopes were shot but a moral victory is good for the team and their confidence.
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The Montreal Canadiens will travel to Ottawa where they will go up against the Senators at 7:00 PM on Saturday. This will be their last game before the trade deadline.