Caps' Holtby deals Habs 3rd straight shutout loss

Braden Holtby made 18 saves for his second shutout, Marco Sturm and Alexander Semin scored, and the Washington Capitals sent the Montreal Canadiens to their third straight defeat by shutout with a 2-0 victory Saturday night.

Holtby, recalled from Hershey of the AHL earlier in the day, faced little offense from Montreal, which had not been held scoreless in three straight games in more than 61 years.

Washington, which has won 14 of 17, played its third straight game without injured captain Alexander Ovechkin.

Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom assisted on both goals, including Sturm's fifth of the season 1:24 in. It was Sturm's first goal in 13 games with Washington, which acquired him on waivers from Los Angeles on Feb. 26.

Semin got his 26th goal 16:19 into the third when he put away Backstrom's centering pass to finish off a two-man break.

Carey Price stopped 31 shots for the Canadiens, who were shut out in three straight games for the first time since Oct. 23-29, 1949.

Montreal has been outscored 11-0 over the course of its three-game losing streak. The Canadiens, who lost 7-0 in Boston on Thursday, and 2-0 to Buffalo on Tuesday, have been held without a goal for 186 minutes, 5 seconds since Sunday, when they had their highest-scoring game in three years in an 8-1 win in Minnesota.

Shut out for the 10th time this season one night earlier in Ottawa, the Capitals struck early to take a quick 1-0 lead.

Backstrom drove the right side and fired a shot that Price stopped. The rebound dropped into the slot where Sturm whacked a low shot past the Montreal goalie.

Outshot 12-3 in the first period, the Canadiens fared little better the rest of the way as Washington held a 14-8 advantage in the second, and 33-18 overall.

Holtby's last start for the Capitals was a 4-2 victory in Montreal on March 15 for his fifth straight win, and Washington's ninth in a row. The 21-year-old rookie got the nod over Semyon Varlamov, who made his first start in 15 games in Friday's road loss to the Senators.

NOTES: Pedro Martinez and John Wetteland were among a number of members of the 1994 Montreal Expos who took in the game from a luxury box. ... Capitals G Michael Neuvirth did not dress because of an illness that prevented him from making his scheduled start in Ottawa on Friday. ... C Tom Pyatt and Ds Yannick Weber and Alexandre Picard did not dress for Montreal. ... The Canadiens were shut out in four consecutive games from Feb. 14-21, 1928.