The puck keeps going in for Alex Ovechkin.
The league’s co-leader in goals finished a spectacular play with a tricky shot that fooled Montreal goalie Carey Price on Tuesday as the Washington Capitals beat the Canadiens 3-2 to extend their winning streak to five games.
The Capitals are a perfect 5-0-0 this month and Ovechkin has eight goals in that span. The center on his line, Nicklas Backstrom, picked up two assists and has 11 points, all helpers, in the same five games.
Ovechkin said getting the win was bigger than the goal he scored to tie the game 1-1 in the second period. It helped the Capitals stay two points ahead of Winnipeg atop the Southeast Division, with a game in hand.
“It’s big two points for us right now,” said the two-time Hart Trophy winner, whose level of play looks to be back near its peak after dipping the previous two seasons. “We beat a team in front of us [in the standings]. We know we can play against good teams. If we play hard and play our system it gives us results.”
Eric Fehr and Jack Hillen also scored for Washington, who are 6-0-1 in their last seven. Lars Eller scored twice for Montreal.
Ovechkin’s 26th of the season left him tied for the league lead with Steven Stamkos, who got the winner in Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory over Ottawa.
When told Stamkos had scored, Ovechkin said: “Good for him.”
Washington killed off a slashing penalty against Ovechkin to start the second period, then the 27-year-old put on a show to tie the game. He took the puck at the right point, slipped past Michael Ryder into the high slot and fired a medium-speed shot that dipped on Price.
“I beat Ryder and I knew there was lots of traffic in front,” Ovechkin said. “The shot wasn’t that hard, but it went in, so that’s good.”
It was Montreal’s first loss to a Southeast Division team (11-1-0) this year, but the Capitals always play well at the Bell Centre, where they are 6-0-1 in their past seven visits.
“We got pucks at the net, but they did a good job of blocking the lanes and when they scored it seemed like the puck found ways to go behind Price,” Montreal coach Michel Therrien said.
The Capitals came out looking hungry and owned the puck in the first six minutes of the opening period, firing the first nine shots on goal to force Price into a number of big saves.
Montreal turned the tables by getting the next five shots and struck first when Alex Galchenyuk, who assisted on both goals, led a rush that saw Brandon Prust feed Eller in front to beat Michal Neuvirth.
Less than two minutes after Ovechkin’s goal, a long period of fourth-line pressure ended with Fehr being credited with poking the puck in. Hillen’s shot went up in the air off Price and landed behind him in the crease on the play.
“You always lose momentum when that happens, but I thought we responded well after that. But when you have a lapse like that, it’s tough to chase a team that’s hot,” Montreal captain Brian Gionta said.
That Fehr goal was originally credited to Hillen, but Hillen got his midway into the third period when his point shot went off a body in front and beat Price.
Eller got his second of the night with 3 minutes, 22 seconds left as he tipped Nathan Beaulieu’s point shot.
“We knew they were going to make a push, which they did,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “The building gets electric and it gets hard to play here. It’s great for the guys to fight through that and experience that, because it’s going to help down the road.”