A Minute to Re­mem­ber

Wash­ing­ton Finds Mo­ti­va­tion in the Cana­di­ens’ Tac­tics

The Washington Post - - Hockey | College Basketball | Golf - By Tarik El-Bashir

Al­though the Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals shouldn’t need ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion given their ten­u­ous po­si­tion in the East­ern Con­fer­ence stand­ings, they’ll have plenty tonight when Alex Ko­valev and the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens visit Ver­i­zon Cen­ter.

One day af­ter the Cana­di­ens crushed the Cap­i­tals, 4-0, sev­eral Wash­ing­ton play­ers stewed over Ko­valev’s power-play goal with 47 sec­onds re­main­ing Tues­day night at Bell Cen­tre, as well as Mon­treal’s mul­ti­ple at­tempts to score a fifth goal in the wan­ing mo­ments.

“They tried to em­bar­rass us,” right wing Vik­tor Ko­zlov said af­ter yes­ter­day’s prac­tice at Ket­tler Cap­i­tals Ice­plex. “We have to re­mem­ber those things and pre­pare our­selves bet­ter. Our me­mory is fresh and the feel­ing is fresh.”

De­fense­man Tom Poti said the Cana­di­ens showed a lack of re­spect for the Cap­i­tals and the game.

“We def­i­nitely no­ticed that they had their best line out there with a minute to go and it was al­ready 3-0,” Poti said. “The game was pretty much over and done with. We’re go­ing to use that as mo­ti­va­tion be­cause we didn’t think they re­spected us.

“This is the Na­tional Hockey League, where we re­spect ev­ery­one. You should sit back and let the clock go out when it’s 4-0. We made a note of it.”

The Cap­i­tals’ de­fense strug­gled in the loss. But the banged-up blue­line could re­ceive a boost if Shaone Mor­risonn is able to play. One of the team’s best play­ers in re­cent months, he’s missed two straight games — and three to­tal — since be­ing struck on the right foot by a slap shot on Jan. 19.

Mor­risonn prac­ticed — though he ap­peared un­com­fort­able at times — and later said he would de­cide whether to suit up for tonight’s game af­ter the morn­ing skate.

“Noth­ing for sure right now, but it is bet­ter,” he said. “It’s frus­trat­ing. But if I’m not 100 per­cent, or ca­pa­ble of play­ing my game, then I’m not much good out there and I’m not go­ing to help the team.”

The Cap­i­tals could have used Mor­risonn’s smooth skat­ing stride and stay-at-home sen­si­bil­i­ties Tues­day. The speedy Cana­di­ens preyed on Wash­ing­ton’s mis­take-prone play early and raced out to a 3-0 lead, an edge they took into the fi­nal min­utes.

Cap­i­tals de­fense­man Jeff Schultz was sent to the penalty box for hook­ing with 1 minute 3 sec­onds re­main­ing. But in­stead of sit­ting on the lead, the Cana­di­ens kept their top of­fen­sive play­ers on the ice, and Ko­valev, the team’s lead­ing scorer, struck 16 sec­onds later. To­mas Plekanec (Mon­treal’s sec­ond-lead­ing scorer) and Mark Streit re­ceived the as­sists.

The Cana­di­ens at­tempted three more shots over the fi­nal 29 sec­onds as they wrapped up their third straight win and fifth in six games. The Cap­i­tals suf­fered their sec­ond de­feat in three games.

“Their D-men were pinch­ing in and try­ing to score goals,” de­fense­man Mike Green said. “The game was pretty much over. The good thing is we play them again — and we’re ready.”

Asked if he planned to ad­dress the fi­nal minute of Tues­day’s game with his play­ers be­fore the open­ing face­off tonight, Coach Bruce Boudreau said, ‘We’ll use any­thing that works.”

Cana­di­ens Coach Guy Car­bon­neau, mean­time, de­fended his lategame per­son­nel de­ci­sions.

“I played long enough in the NHL and Boudreau played long enough to know that a three-goal lead is never safe, even with three min­utes to play,” he told re­porters in Mon­treal yes­ter­day. “I have lost some three goal leads be­fore. The day that I will step my foot off the pedal in this sit­u­a­tion, I will stop coach­ing.”

BY CHRISTINNE MUSCHI — REUTERS

Mon­treal cel­e­brated one of its early goals, but it was a score with 47 sec­onds left that an­gered the Cap­i­tals.

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