Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens-Capitals game Saturday at the Bell Center (7 pm, City, SNE, TVA Sports, TSN-690 Radio, 98.5 FM):
The match-up: The Canadiens will be looking for their first win in three attempts against the Capitals who started the season series with a 6-3 win at home on Nov. 24 and followed with a 5-2 victory at the Bell Center on Feb. 10, which was Martin St.Louis’ first game behind the bench. The Canadiens are coming off a 3-0 home defeat to the New York Islanders. It was the jr fourth loss in a row but it took a 42-save performance from Ilya Sorokin to give the visitors the victory. The Capitals are coming off a 7-3 loss to the Maple Leafs Thursday, but they hold down the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with 92 points for a comfortable 13-point lead on the ninth-place Islanders.
Montembeault back in goal: This is the second game in a back-to-back set and, while it would seem that Carey Price has had enough rest over the past nine-plus months, he’ll be the backup to Sam Montembeaut for this game. Montembeault, who is looking for some leverage as he approaches restricted free agent status on July 1, has been placed in some challenging situations this season in the absence of Price and Jake Allen. He has appeared in 35 games after playing only 25 NHL games prior to this season. He has a 7-16-6 record with a 3.54 goals-against average and an .895 save percentage.
The cup half full: The Canadiens were shut out by the New York Islanders Friday but St. Louis was encouraged by the performance, calling it the team’s best showing since he became head coach. St. Louis was enthused because the Canadiens dominated the Islanders. They outshot New York 44-20 but those numbers only told half the story. Montreal had 30 shots blocked and missed the target on 15 other attempts, which means they took 89 shots. It took a superb effort by the acrobatic Sorokin to keep the Canadiens off the scoresheet.
Watch out for Ovie: Alexander Ovechkin isn’t going to win his 10th Maurice (Rocket) Richard Trophy as the NHL’s top goal-scorer but he’s having a pretty good season for a 35-year-old. Ovechkin has 46 goals and 29 assists for 85 points in 72 games. He has moved into third place on the NHL’s all-time goals list with 776. The only players ahead of him are Wayne Gretzky, who is No.1 with 894 and Gordie Howe, who scored 801. If he reaches 50 goals this season, he will tie Gretzky and the late mike bossy for the most 50-goal seasons with nine. Ovechkin has enjoyed success against the Canadiens. He has 33 goals and 28 assists for 58 points in 51 games.
Bits and pieces: With Ovechkin setting up in the left faceoff circle you would think the Capitals would have a dynamite power play but they rank 21st in the NHL with a success rate of 18.9 per cent. The return of Carey Price should provide a boost to the Montreal defense which allows 3.8 goals a game to rank last in the NHL. Former Canadien Lars Eller returns to Montreal with the Capitals and the Danish center has 12 goals and 28 points. Washington’s John Carlson ranks fourth among NHL defensemen with 15 goals and is fifth in points with 66.
New York Islanders’ Ilya Sorokin steals the show from Carey Price
Canadiens’ Carey Price receives a warm welcome in season debut
Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis has warm memories of Mike Bossy