Most nights this season, Braden Holtby has proved why he is the best goalie in the league. However, Wednesday night against the Montreal Canadiens was not one of those nights as Holtby and the Capitals came up on the wrong side of a 4-3 score. Holtby got pulled in favor of Philipp Grubauer early into the second period after giving up his third goal of the game. Grubauer came on and made 15 saves in 16 shot attempts he faced in relief. Montreal isn’t very good this season due in large part to their net minder Carey Price being injured, got great contribution from Mike Condon between the pipes as he made 33 saves.
Montreal center Alex Galchenyuk got the scoring started with his 15th goal of the season at the 9:09 mark of the first period. Later in the opening period, right winger Brendan Gallagher netted his 17th goal of the season making the score 2-0. Montreal left winger Tomas Fleischmann scored his 10th goal of the season just 1:54 into the second period, which was the goal that chased Holtby. Washington would respond with a goal by left winger Jason Chimera, his 17th of the season at the 5:32 mark to cut the deficit to 3-1. Galchenyuk provided what would be the game-winning goal at the 12:36 mark of the second period.
The Caps put the pressure on the Canadiens (29-27-5) as Dmitry Orlov notched his sixth goal of the campaign to cut the deficit in half at 4-2. With just under three minutes remaining, left winger Andre Burakovsky made things a little more interesting with his 1th goal of the season. Unfortunately for the Caps, it was too little, too late.
Alex Ovechkin was held out of the back of the net for the first time in his last four game, but he did tally an assist. Evgeny Kuznetsov did not register a point, ending his point streak at five games.
Washington dropped to 44-11-4 on the season and suffered just their fifth regulation-loss at home, where they are now 17-2-1 in their last 20.
The Caps will try and rebound, something they have done quite nicely this season as they have gone on winning streaks of at least five games after a loss five different times, including rattling off nine-straight victories from Dec. 12-Dec. 30. Washington will play host to the Minnesota Wild (27-21-10) on Friday night before clashing with the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday afternoon (12:30 EST, NBC) in what could be yet another Stanley Cup preview.