Washington, DC – Matt Hendricks scored in the first round of the shootout as the Washington Capitals picked up a big 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
The win moves Washington to 88 points on the season, two clear of Buffalo, which lost to Toronto on Saturday, for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Also, Washington is two points behind Ottawa for the seventh spot.
Mathieu Perrault and Jay Beagle each scored in regulation while Michal Neuvirth posted 38 saves for the Capitals, who have won three of their last four.
Tomas Plekanec and Erik Cole each lit the lamp for the Canadiens, who have lost seven of their last eight. Peter Budaj stopped 31 shots.
Hendricks scored on the first attempt of the shootout while Neuvirth made stops on David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty before Alexander Semin scored to seal the win.
Washington scored 4:16 into the first as Semin fired a shot on net from the left circle that was stopped. However, he gathered his rebound and centered it for a one-timer from Perreault.
It was a 2-0 game with 3:50 to play in the first as a 3-on-1 break saw Hendricks send a pass from the left circle to the front, where Beagle shoved it in.
Montreal got one back with just 21.5 seconds to play in the first when Pacioretty charged down the left wing before getting a shot on net from in front and Cole was there to stuff in the rebound.
The Habs tied the game with 5:29 to play in the second as Plekanec took a pass down the right wing and lifted a shot in high for his 16th of the season.
Budaj stopped 11 shots while Neuvirth made 13 saves in the third and four in overtime to force the shootout.
Washington center Nicklas Backstrom returned to play for the first time since January 3. He had been out after taking an elbow to the head against then- Calgary forward Rene Bourque. He was minus-one in close to 20 minutes of ice time...Washington plays in Tampa on Monday...Montreal hosts the Lightning on Wednesday...Washington swept the season series with Montreal and has won nine of the last 11 meetings.