Links updated at 6:58 am ET
Canadiens’ Guillaume Latendresse (centre) celebrates the second of his goals with teammates.
Molly Riley, Reuters
Guillaume Latendresse returned to the Canadiens lineup with a vengeance last night, and in so doing got his team’s six-game road trip off to a winning start.
Latendresse, a healthy scratch the past two games, scored his eighth and ninth goals of the season to help lift the Canadiens to a 5-2 victory over the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Centre.
Big marks, too, to goalie Cristobal Huet, who made 35 saves while making his first start in the last seven games. And a tip of the helmet to Canadiens veteran Mathieu Dandenault, who earned an assist in his 800th NHL game.
Latendresse got the Canadiens on the scoresheet first with a power-play goal at 18:15 of the first period, converting a pass from behind Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig’s net off the stick of captain Saku Koivu.
Tomas Plekanec tallied his 11th at 6:33 of the second, slipping in a crisp, cross-ice pass from Alex Kovalev off the tip of Kolzig’s right pad. The Caps got that one back at 9:10 on the power play, Maxim Lapierre off for holding, with Niklas Backstrom banging one in a close range.
But the Habs went back up by two with Latendresse’s second of the night, Lapierre winning the faceoff to the stick of Dandenault. Dandenault redirected the puck to the deep slot to Latendresse, who drilled it home for his ninth.
The Canadiens weren’t exactly dominating their hosts; Montreal had just 11 shots (six and five) through two periods, compared to the 24 the Capitals shot at Habs goalie Cristobal Huet, returning to action after having sat out seven straight with a groin injury and as backup Tuesday to Carey Price.
Twenty-year-old rookie Sergei Kostitsyn then scored his milestone first NHL goal at 9:34 of the third period on the power play, tipping in a pass from Koivu from the slot. Koivu quickly retrieved the puck for a souvenir.
The Canadiens bench was still buzzing about that when Alexander Semin scored Washington’s second, at 10:08, left absolutely alone in front of Huet to whip in a hard wrist shot.
Mark Streit finished things off at 18:39, banging in the rebound of a Kyle Chipchura shot for his fifth goal of the year.
This was the Canadiens’ first six-game road swing since going 4-1-1 from Feb. 28-March 9, 2006. Montreal will not return home until Jan. 3 against Tampa Bay.