Author: James O'Brien

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Burgled: Habs win in OT, take 2-0 series lead vs. Sens

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Alex Galchenyuk was turned away on some nice chances earlier in Game 2, giving the sense that he might have been due. If so, his efforts paid off in overtime, as he scored the 3-2 OT winner to give the Montreal Canadiens a 2-0 series lead against the Ottawa Senators.

One could say that the true turning point was the second period, and not just because Montreal turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead.

The Habs hogged the puck in the middle frame, generating a 14-3 shot advantage while claiming that lead. The biggest highlight came on P.K. Subban’s emphatic goal.

Montreal had to bite its nails a bit thanks to some sloppy moments in the third period, however. That included some rare mental lapses by Carey Price & Co., including on Patrick Wiercioch’s tying tally.

Fair or not, one cannot help but wonder if the Senators will switch to Craig Anderson over Andrew Hammond in Game 3. “The Hamburglar” has been an out-of-nowhere success, yet goalie nods can be fickle, especially when postseason survival is on the line.

Again, Hammond might not be to blame:

The Canadiens shrugged that setback off and won it in overtime, putting the Senators’ magical season in serious danger. That said, Ottawa has been at its best when the odds have been against them, so Montreal would be wise not to take things lightly as the locale¬†shifts to the Canadian Tire Centre.

Washed over: Caps control Isles, tie series 1-1

John Carlson, Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson
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Things looked dire for the Washington Capitals more than once in Game 2 against the New York Islanders on Friday night. They kept grinding away, though, and their reward is a 4-3 win and a 1-1 series tie.

There were times when one wondered if Braden Holtby’s sick day might cost the Capitals big-time. Philipp Grubauer allowed three goals on a modest 21 shots for the Isles, but most importantly, he stopped all seven in the third period.

New York generated 2-0 and 3-1 leads that may or may not have instilled a false sense of security.

Ultimately, the Capitals’ biggest names made the difference. Alex Ovechkin notched a sigh-of-relief goal to close the gap to within one while Nicklas Backstrom’s three-point night included a nifty bit of one-against-all:

During about a 12-minute span from late in the second period to midway through the third, the Capitals scored three unanswered goals to turn the game on its head.

Chalk it up to score effects if you’d like, but the Capitals controlled much of the play, as you can see from this Natural Stat Trick graph.

source:

Whatever way you slice it, the Capitals avoided a dire situation as this series is now locked at 1-1 with things switching to Long Island.

Video: Nifty work from Nicklas Backstrom

Boston Bruins v Washington Capitals
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Most hockey fans know that Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is an All-Star-caliber player even though he’s never made such a team. Sometimes he needs to remind others why people hammer on that point.

The versatile Swede already has a goal and two assists in Game 2 for the Capitals, including this 3-3 goal in which he stupefied the New York Islanders’ penalty killers:

Yep, that’s pretty impressive.

Healthy enough: Pacioretty scores on power play

Washington Capitals v Montreal Canadiens
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Is Max Pacioretty really 100 percent in Game 2? One could probably argue that few players are truly “healthy” at this point in the year, but either way, the Montreal Canadiens winger made an impact tonight.

Maybe it’s a goal that Ottawa Senators sensation Andrew Hammond would like back, but either way, Pacioretty found the net to tie things up 1-1 (for now):

Update: The bigger Habs highlight came when P.K. Subban scored this impressive slap-shot goal:

Video: Carey Price’s great save on a fantastic Mika Zibanejad try

Carey Price, Mika Zibanejad,

The Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators aren’t lacking in hatred for each other, but that doesn’t mean that all those hard feelings are overwhelming all displays of skill.

In fact, both teams had some skill to flaunt on this display, as Mika Zibanejad showed some serious talent in even getting a shot off on Carey Price, who was game to the challenge:

Yep, that’s pretty impressive. It looked like the two teams would go into the first intermission with a 0-0, but Clarke MacArthur beat Price in the waning moments of the period. Mark Stone managed to grab an assist on that goal, too.

https://twitter.com/Senators/status/58921791491977625