By Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press on February 6, 2024.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Nick Suzuki and Juraj Slafkovsky each scored twice, and the Montreal Canadiens handed the Washington Capitals a fifth consecutive loss, 5-2 on Tuesday night, despite Alex Ovechkin recording his 10th goal of the season and 832nd of his NHL career.
By the time Ovechkin scored six minutes into the second period, the Capitals were already down three goals. They tilted the ice toward Montreal goaltender Samuel Montembeault for long stretches of time but couldn’t snap out of their skid in each team’s first game back from the NHL All-Star break.
Suzuki’s two goals in 57 seconds came early in the game, and when Michael Pezzetta scored 13:07 in, it marked the end of Charlie Lindgren’s night.
Lindgren allowed three goals on nine shots before getting replaced by Darcy Kuemper but was hardly to blame for any of them. The first resulted from a turnover, the second a bounce off the right post and the third after a teammate lost an edge and fell in the corner.
It didn’t help that the Capitals had three shots on net by the time the Canadiens had three goals. Ovechkin’s goal brought Washington to life, leading to a 16-5 shot advantage in the second period but not another quick goal that would have put the pressure on Montreal.
Instead, Slafkovsky, the Canadiens’ selection with the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft, scored twice in the third period, sandwiched around Capitals’ defenceman Rasmus Sandin’s second goal of the season. Montembeault made 36 saves for his 12th win.
Kuemper allowed the goals to Slafkovsky and made 15 saves in a poorly timed loss for the Capitals, whose upcoming week is a murderer’s row. Their next four opponents – Florida and Boston on the road and Vancouver and Colorado at home – are the top four teams in the league.
On their longest losing streak of the season, they go into this stretch missing a key player, after Evgeny Kuznetsov entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program Monday. Kuznetsov will be away from the team indefinitely while he’s receiving care and can only return when cleared by program administrators.
Canadiens: Host the Dallas Stars on Saturday.
Capitals: Visit the Florida Panthers on Thursday.
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