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Plekanec plays the OT hero as Canadiens end Caps' win streak

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The Canadian Press
2/11/2010 1:31:43 AM
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MONTREAL -- After blowing a three-goal lead in the third period against the NHL's hottest team, it would have been easy for the Montreal Canadiens to fold.

Instead, they did the exact opposite.

Washington tied the game with 19 seconds left in regulation, but Tomas Plekanec scored his second of the night at 4:52 of overtime as the Canadiens halted the Capitals' 14-game winning streak with a 6-5 victory Wednesday.

"I liked the way we reacted in overtime," said Canadiens coach Jacques Martin. "After getting scored on with less than 20 seconds left, they never got a sniff in overtime."

Scott Gomez, Tom Pyatt, Maxim Lapierre and Glen Metropolit also scored for the Canadiens (29-26-6), who won the season series against the powerhouse Capitals (41-12-7) with a 2-1-1 record.

Carey Price, making his first start since Jan. 27, made 33 saves for the Canadiens to win for only the third time in his last 12 starts.

"I felt good," said Price. "It felt like it was a football game, with a week of practice before the game. I just tried to take what I've been working on in practice and apply it directly to the game."

Brooks Laich scored three times for the Capitals, including one with 18.4 seconds to play in regulation, as Washington fought back from a 5-2 deficit to force overtime.

Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green also scored for the Capitals, who came within a game of tying the second-longest winning streak in NHL history.

"Normally we'd say that was a good point but we were trying to do something special so it's a deflating loss," said Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau. "I think it was seven seconds left to get to the shootout, where we would have felt pretty confident tonight that we would have been successful, but those things happen."

Michal Neuvirth got the start in goal for Washington but was removed with an apparent injury with the score tied 2-2 at 6:11 of the second. Jose Theodore came on in relief and saw his own personal streak of 10 straight wins come to an end, allowing four goals on 25 shots.

Washington had been dominant since last suffering a loss on Jan. 12 in Tampa Bay, outscoring the opposition 67-33 over the 14 wins since.

The injury-riddled Canadiens -- with a lineup featuring five players who were in the American Hockey League last month -- were up to the challenge of facing the league's hottest team, scoring four goals in the second period to take a 5-2 lead heading to the third.

"Where I come from, when you beat the best team in the National Hockey League you should be happy," said Martin. "Especially when you look at the number of injuries we had, you look at our lineup, I think it showed tremendous character and determination."

There was a scary moment with just over 10 seconds to play in the first when a Green slapshot struck Canadiens defenceman Josh Gorges in the back of the head. Gorges lay motionless on the ice for several minutes but left under his own power.

"That was scary," Green said. "I didn't know where it had hit him or what and I was just glad he got up."

Gorges was not taken to hospital, but did not return.

With the Canadiens ahead 5-2 entering the third period, the Capitals charged back to tie it.

Green made it 5-3 with a power-play goal from the point 16 seconds in, and Laich cut the deficit to one at 9:02.

Laich completed the hat trick with his 20th of the season at 19:41 of the third by tipping home a Mike Knuble shot.

On the winner, Montreal's Sergei Kostitsyn got his third assist of the night by patiently out-waiting the Capitals defence before sliding it over to Plekanec, who had no trouble burying his 17th of the season.

"We needed two points in the standings, and we got them," Plekanec said. "It wasn't great in the third period for us, but we'll take the two points."

Montreal opened the scoring 36 seconds in on Gomez's ninth of the season, but Laich tied it up at 6:23.

Pyatt gave the Canadiens a brief lead 41 seconds into the second, only to have Backstrom tie it 30 seconds later, converting a nice give-and-go with Alex Ovechkin.

Montreal regained the lead at 12:45 when Metropolit scored his team-leading eighth power-play goal of the season.

Only 12 seconds later, Lapierre took a feed from Kostitsyn and beat Theodore with a low shot for his fifth of the season and a 4-2 Montreal lead.

A bizarre play followed when Ovechkin plowed into Habs defenceman Hal Gill in front of Price. The puck was in Gill's feet at the time, but Ovechkin's hit pushed both Gill and the puck into Price and, eventually, into the net.

A bizarre play followed when Ovechkin plowed into Habs defenceman Hal Gill in front of Price. The puck was in Gill's feet at the time, but Ovechkin's hit pushed both Gill and the puck into Price and, eventually, into the net.

The play was called a goal on the ice, but after the four officials conferred without going to a video review, it was waved off.

No explanation was announced as to why the goal was disallowed, but NHL Rule 69.6 forbids a player from pushing the goalie and the puck into the net.

Plekanec then scored his 16th 18:56 of the second to make it 5-2.

Notes: The Capitals entered the game without having allowed a goal in the first minute of a period all season. They allowed one in both the first and second period against the Habs. ... Gill blocked a game-high 11 shots and played 4:53 on the penalty kill. ... Plekanec had nearly 10 minutes of special teams ice time, 4:40 on the power play and a game-high 4:57 on the penalty kill. ... With two assists, Ovechkin matched his point production against the Canadiens from the three previous games combined.

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