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Halak, Canadiens edge Capitals 2-1, forcing Game 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — Thanks to terrific goaltending by Jaroslav Halak and a pair of early goals, the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens ensured Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals still have work to do in the first round of the playoffs.

Halak made 37 saves in his return to the net, Michael Cammalleri and Travis Moen scored on two of Montreal's first five shots, and the Canadiens beat the top-seeded Capitals 2-1 Friday night in Game 5 to extend their Eastern Conference first-round series.

The Capitals could have closed it out at home, but they will take a 3-2 series lead into Game 6 at Montreal on Monday.

In a key call, Canadiens coach Jacques Martin went back to Halak — benching Carey Price, who took over in goal during Game 3 and started Game 4.

The move worked against the high-flying, NHL-leading offense of the Capitals, limiting them to two-time MVP Ovechkin's second-period goal and helping silence a standing-room-only crowd of 18,377 for stretches.

Also affecting the mood of the spectators: Cammalleri put Montreal ahead 1-0 only 1½ minutes into the game — and on its third shot of the evening — by scoring against goalie Semyon Varlamov off assists from Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec. It was Cammalleri's third goal of the series.

And at 7:01, two shots later, it was 2-0 on Moen's backhander off assists from Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez.

It was reminiscent of the start of Game 2, also in Washington, when Montreal scored on each of its first two shots, prompting Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau to yank Jose Theodore and insert Varlamov.

Montreal led 4-1 in the second period of that game before Washington turned things around, outscoring the Canadiens 15-5 from there until the end of Game 4, seemingly wresting control of the series.

This time, though, there was no switch, and Varlamov kept Washington in the game, finishing with 26 saves.

Halak was even better, even without the help of defenseman Jaroslav Spacek, who did such a good job of shadowing Ovechkin in Game 1 but sat out Game 4 and didn't make the trip to Washington for Game 5 because of a virus.

It didn't matter. Halak was particularly impressive in the first period, when he stuffed Alexander Semin on consecutive shots from close range, then made another reflex stop on Boyd Gordon. The goalie finished the period with 15 saves.

The Capitals got to him early in the second, pulling within 2-1 at 3:52, when Ovechkin maneuvered his way through a scrum in front of the net to poke in a rebound of rookie defenseman John Carlson's slap shot.

It was Ovechkin's fifth of the series, all in the past four games, and he celebrated in his typically exuberant manner, throwing his arms out wide and nodding his head.

Halak went back to being unbeatable. He sprawled to deflect a shot from near a post by Eric Fehr during a third-period power play. The Capitals led the NHL in power-play percentage, but they've been stymied throughout this series, going 0 for 5 Friday to make them 1 for 24 overall. The Capitals have scored twice as many short-handed goals (two) as they had scored with an extra skater.

Later in the third, Halak blocked another nearby attempt from Tomas Fleischmann. After yet one more nice play by Halak, smothering the puck with three Capitals bearing down on him, Ovechkin rolled his head back and looked up to the rafters.

NOTES: After spectators in Montreal booed the U.S. national anthem before Game 3, a few jeers were heard at the outset of the Canadian national anthem Friday, but they were quickly drowned out by applause. ... The start of the second period was delayed for about 10 minutes because of a problem with an overhead goal camera. ... Washington's Mike Green is a finalist for the Norris Trophy — given to the NHL's top defenseman — for the second consecutive year. Green topped the league's defensemen in goals (19) and assists (57). ... Montreal has trailed 3-1 in a best-of-seven series 16 times; it came back to win once, against the Boston Bruins in 2004. ... The crowd roared and gave a standing ovation when former Capitals enforcer Donald Brashear was shown on the above-ice video screen, sitting in the stands. Brashear acknowledged the cheers by blowing a kiss.