If, as they say, a tie is like kissing your sister, then a Shootout loss is like a big slobbery wet one from your weird-smelling maiden aunt, right after she gives you argyle socks a size too small for your birthday.
OK, I’m just bitter because the Canadiens game in Washington pre-empted TGIF Happy Hour – a ritual that beats the socks off kissing your sister, your aunt or almost anyone short of kate Upton.
We probably shouldn’t be surprised this weirdly-scheduled game ended badly … if you count a losers’ point as a bad ending … which you do, because the hero of the piece was Mikhail Grabovski, who makes your maiden aunt look like Kate Upton.
The last time your Montreal Canadiens won two games in Washington was the 1978-’79 season.
Pretty good team.
On their way to amassing 115 regular-season points and winning a fourth straight Stanley Cup, the ’78-’79 Canadiens won 6-0 and 8-4 in D.C. Their last meeting – on March 5, 1979 – ended in a 2-2 tie.
The latest meeting was 2-2 after 6-5 minutes. But the Capitals – outshot 37-26 during the part of the game that was real hockey – scored three times in the Shootout to pick up two points and extend the Canadiens’ streak of winning no more than one regular-season game in Washington.
After splitting two Friday games, the teams won’t meet again until the Capitals make their only Bell Centre visit of the season on Jan. 25.
In two games at the Verizon Center, the Canadiens outshot the home team by a cumulative 68-53. They would have got two wins in regulation if Peter Budaj – whose many talents do not include puckhandling – hadn’t been victimized behind his own net by Grabovski, who fed a wide-open Eric Fehr for Washington’s first goal.
The Grabovski goal that tied it at 2-2 came on the heels of a dominant third-period shift by the Canadiens’ seldom used fourth line. Having battled ferociously to control the puck in the Washington end, Michaël Bournival was gassed when he came back to try to cover Grabovski.
Bournival and Ryan White both finished the game at minus-2 – in 6:28 and 7:47 of even-strength ice time, respectively. One or the other could find himself in the Bell Centre pressbox Saturday night if Michel Therrien decides to dress George Parros against the Leafs.
Or perhaps the coach will be disinclined to mess with his lineup.
The Canadiens played well enough to extend their winning streak Friday evening. If Braden Holtby doesn’t make two miraculous stops on Andrei Markov during that third-period power play, it’s 3-1 and the home team is on its way to a fifth straight loss.
The Canadiens outshot the Caps 13-4 in the opening period, 10-8 in the third and 5-1 in the five-minute OT. The penalty-kill was, once again, superb. The power play sure could use a sniper, but the Canadiens had stretches of exquisite puck control, orchestrated by P.K. and Andrei Markov.
Holtby was hot. It happens.
Subban, Markov and the rest of the defence corps played well, as did Budaj, who kept his cool during the late-game shifts in which the Capitals managed to exert pressure in the Canadiens’ end.
The Tomas Plekanec and David Desharnais lines skated, battled and generated chances.
lars Eller and Brandon Prust played solid games, but Alex Galchneyuk struggled, as has been the case since his pal Brendan Gallagher was moved to the DD line.
Galchenyuk is working hard. He’s going to the net. But his goal against Buffalo notwithstanding, I detect a sapping of the kid’s confidence. His Shootout attempt was almost as fugly as Plekanec’s.
Bottom line on Happy Hour Hockey: The Canadiens picked up a point to solidify their hold on an Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
They don’t play on Friday again until Jan. 24 in Detroit – where games against the Wings are like kissing your rottweiler.