Failing to close out for the third straight game, the Washington Capitals fell short to the visiting Montreal Canadiens 2-1, and will not advance to the next round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Habs were lead by another mind-boggling performance by Jaroslav Halak, who stopped 41 of 42 shots faced on the night, and were bookended by defensive performance that blocked 41 more attempts. Marc-Andre Bergeron solidified his place on”the list” with his first period 4-on-3 power play goal with just under 30 seconds remaining in the period, and Dominic Moore moved Montreal closer to the Eastern Conference semi-finals with his tally late in the third. All was not lost, however, as Brooks Laich made me eat my words by scrambling for the goal that the Caps desperately needed to turn momentum in their favor, and would cut the Habs’ lead in half. His from-the-knees pool-cue of a goal off a rebound wasn’t pretty, but it proved that DC had not cashed in on their dreams just yet. The Capitals continued to press, and Nick Backstrom‘s diving save to prevent an empty netter as time ticked down proved that fight was still left in the belly of the Capitals, but DC was unable to convert on Ryan O’Byrne‘s high-sticking penalty in the final moments.
It was not the ending dreamed of by many of the fans, who had the highest of hopes for the team that took the NHL’s Presidents’ Trophy and lead the league in scoring, and certainly not expected of the team that held the best home record in the league. However, failing to capitalize at the Verizon Center (losing games 1, 5 and 7 in Washington) and with their power play (sucessfully executing with the man advantage only once during the 7 game series) would prove to be the undoing for the Washington Capitals, who scored only 3 goals in as many games.
Congratulations to the Canadiens, who stared defeat in the eyes and rallied to take down the Goliath of the post-season. I can only wish them luck as they embark on their journey to win Lord Stanley’s cup – and defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the process.