Quick Links

Canadiens drop Caps to 0-3 for 1st time since '93

201301241849677660667-p2.jpeg

Canadiens drop Caps to 0-3 for 1st time since '93

WASHINGTON (AP) Andrei Markov's resurgence continued with a goal and an assist, and the Montreal Canadiens cruised to a 4-1 win Thursday night over the Washington Capitals, who are 0-3 for the first time in nearly two decades.

Finally healthy after twice tearing the ACL in his right knee, Markov was part of a second-period spree in which the Canadiens scored in all sorts of ways against a Capitals team that is out of sorts. In order, Montreal's goals came 5-on-3, 5-on-4 and 5-on-5 in a little over 6 minutes to take a 3-0 lead.

Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta and Josh Gorges scored for the Canadiens, and Carey Price made 30 saves. Montreal, the worst team in the Eastern Conference a year ago, has won two straight under new coach Michel Therrien since opening the season with a loss to Toronto.

The Capitals also have a new coach teaching a new system, and he is having a much harder time getting his players in gear after a compressed training camp in the lockout-shortened season. Adam Oates' team has been outscored 14-6 through three games, with seven of the opponents' goals coming on power plays.

Joey Crabb's goal with 2:23 to play was the lone goal for the Capitals, and two-time NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin remains without a goal on the season. Oates shook things up by putting Wojtek Wolski on the first line with Ovechkin, and the two ran into each other in the offensive zone in the first period. Michal Neuvirth made his first start of the season in net, but he had a realistic chance to stop only one of the four Montreal goals.

The result was frequent booing throughout the game for the Capitals, who are 0-3 for the first time since dropping six straight to start the 1993-94 season.

Washington also ended a six-game winning streak against Montreal and lost in regulation to the Canadiens for the first time since Nov. 20, 2009.

Markov has three goals on the season, helping to mitigate the absence of Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, who is a restricted free agent and has yet to come to terms on a new contract.

Markov supplied the assist on the game's first goal, sliding the puck to Plekanec during a two-man advantage while Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer were in the penalty box.

Markov put in an easy rebound to make it 2-0 during a power play just 63 seconds later.

The third goal came after a classic defensive lapse. Three Capitals chased the puck into the corner, leaving Gionta alone in front of the net to receive a pass from Rene Bourque.

Josh Gorges made it a four-goal lead late in the second period.

Notes: Washington hasn't been shut out by Montreal since 2008, but the Capitals have shut out Montreal five times during that span. ... Matt Hendricks, who got into a fight in Washington's previous game to try to give his team a boost, was at in again Thursday, tussling with Montreal's Brandon Prust in the third period.

---

Follow Joseph White on Twitter:http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

Quick Links

Stock watch: Bowey scores pivotal goal, Barber tries to shake off poor start

Stock watch: Bowey scores pivotal goal, Barber tries to shake off poor start

The Caps fell to Carolina in their preseason opener 2-1 in overtime. More important than the score, however, was the performance of the players who are all vying to impress the coaches. Here are three players who impressed and three players who had a rough start.

3 players who impressed:

Vitek Vanecek: In his first taste of NHL experience, Vanecek was impressive in net. He played about half the game allowing only one goal on 13 shots.

Vanecek has been largely overshadowed after the Caps drafted goalie Ilya Samsonov in the first round of the 2015 draft, but he showed tonight why he continues to climb the ranks in the organization.

Vanecek fought off several screens and was quick to flash the pads for key kick saves. The only goal he allowed was a rolling puck high on the glove side which would have been a tough save for any netminder.

“I was extremely happy with our goaltending,” associate coach Todd Reirden said. “I thought Vitek did a great job with his first game.”

Nathan Walker: At just 5-foot-8, 179 pounds, Walker is not the most physically imposing player on the ice, but that didn’t stop him from playing an extremely physical game against Carolina.

“[Walker] added a lot of life, definitely frustrated some of the opposition,” Reirden said. “He's a guy that brings a ton of speed and energy and I thought he had a real strong game for us.”

Walker finished with a game-high six hits.

If his size was a concern for the Caps coming into this season, he showed that he won’t be intimidated by the bigger players of the NHL.

“I've played like that my whole life,” Walker said. “I'm not going to stop now just because the guys are a little bigger here.”

Madison Bowey: With the Caps trailing 1-0 in the third period, Bowey was able to pull the game even and force overtime with a one-timer on the power play to beat Carolina goalie Alex Nedeljkovic.

“I just let the play develop with Lars Eller,” Bowey said. “Whenever he's on the ice he makes a lot of room for other guys and he made a great pass to Paul Carey and he found me which just made it pretty easy for me to kind of shoot and put it in.”

Bowey has shown good offensive instincts in Hershey and pinched up at the perfect time to get the pass from Carey and fire the one-timer.

Prior to that point, the game felt uneventful for Bowey, which is usually a good thing for a defenseman.

“Every time you can contribute offensively it goes a long way,” Bowey said, “But I think really my role, if I want to make this team, is just making sure I can play simple and solid every game. I was really happy with my defensive play tonight.”

RELATED: Wilson pulled form preseason opener for precautionary reasons

3 players who need to show improvement:

Riley Barber: The first period was not kind to Barber as he took not one, but two minor penalties before the game was even nine minutes old. Barber was called for hooking just 3:29 into the game as he lost a pass in the offensive zone and brought down Jordan Staal in the neutral zone on the back check.

Just five minutes later, Barber was called for tripping Jaccob Slavin behind Carolina’s net for an offensive zone penalty. Barber came in on the forecheck to pressure Slavin and was too aggressive with the sweep check as the Carolina defenseman tripped over his stick.

“It's something I addressed after the game,” Reirden said, “Because in the beginning of the year, every NHL season, the referees always call way more penalties on stick infractions.”

Reirden also noted, however, that he was pleased with how Barber rebounded from the rough start.

“I liked the way his game came around. A lot of times you'll find with young players if they have some difficulties in the beginning of the game, then there game continues to head south and his game turned around.”

Brooks Orpik: Orpik will look to erase the memory of last season’s rough playoff performance and Monday was not a good start. Carolina was able to turn a bad turnover from the veteran defenseman into a goal late in the first period that proved to be the only goal the Caps would concede in regulation.

Orpik was skating with the puck in the defensive zone and missed on a pass to Jay Beagle who was standing near the boards. The puck went behind Beagle and bounced off the boards to Slavin who passed it up to Bryan Bickell to start the rush. Patrick Brown would finish off the play with a top-shelf goal.

One lone Carolina player was weakly forechecking Orpik, but he should have been able to handle that pressure. A veteran defenseman of his caliber should be able to pass to a stationary player in the face of a single forechecker. That’s not a play that should result in a turnover.

Jakub Vrana: There's no denying Vrana's talent, that was evident on Monday even if he came up empty on the box score. The problem, however, is that Vrana brought an AHL mindset to an NHL game. He relied far too much on his speed, attempting to simply skate around defensemen who were able to easily stay with him and force him out of the play.

In the AHL, Vrana is able to dominate with his speed and skill. Monday's game was a valuable lesson for Vrana as it showed it takes more than skill alone to be successful in the NHL where the players are just as fast and just as skilled.

Vrana managed only one shot and had another blocked. It was not a terrible performance, but a clear indication that needs to adjust his game before he is NHL ready. He has to learn how to play against more skilled defensemen if he hopes to make an impact with the Caps.

MORE CAPITALS: Caps drop preseason opener in overtime, 2-1

Quick Links

Capitals' Wilson pulled from Monday's game for precautionary reasons

Capitals' Wilson pulled from Monday's game for precautionary reasons

Capitals winger Tom Wilson left Monday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes with an upper body injury, associate coach Todd Reirden said.

Reirden said the decision to pull Wilson late in the second period was for precautionary reasons.

“He was getting evaluated tonight and will be reevaluated tomorrow morning and see where he’s at,” Reirden said.

RELATED: Caps drop preseason opener in overtime, 2-1

Wilson was hurt when he tangled with Jordan Staal in the corner. Staal’s shoulder/upper arm caught Wilson in the mouth area. The Carolina center was whistled for elbowing.

Wilson and Staal had been jawing at one another for much of the game leading up to the hit. Wilson finished with a shot, four hits, a blocked shot and a giveaway in 11:45 of ice time.

“It was just kind of a normal hockey play,” Reirden said. “And we’ll how he is tomorrow, but at this point in the season it gives us a chance to be precautionary on that.”

MORE CAPITALS: Caps remain cautious with defenseman Nate Schmidt