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Caps end slide by beating Canadiens 4-1

Friday, 02.24.2012 / 9:42 PM

A visit from the Montreal Canadiens was a perfect tonic for the ailing Washington Capitals. Getting Alex Ovechkin back didn't hurt either.

Ovechkin returned after missing one game with a lower-body injury and scored 16 seconds after Jason Chimera's goal midway through the second period as the Caps ended a three-game slide by beating the reeling Canadiens 4-1 at Verizon Center on Friday night.

Chimera's breakaway goal at 8:42 of the second period made it 2-0, and while the goal was still being announced, he took Dmitri Orlov's pass in the left circle and beat Carey Price for his 25th of the season at 8:58 for a 3-0 lead.

Michal Neuvirth made 30 saves, although he did allow the first goal Montreal has scored against Washington since March 15, 2011. Rene Bourque's shorthanded breakaway goal 3:42 into the third period ended a drought of 260 minutes, 14 seconds for the Canadiens against the Capitals -- a stretch that covered five games, including three shutouts. Bourque's goal came after Ovechkin turned over the puck.

"A stupid mistake," Ovechkin said.

Joel Ward added an empty-netter as the Capitals (30-26-5) moved into ninth place with 65 points, one behind eighth-place Florida. The Caps visit Toronto, which also has 65 points, on Saturday in their final game before the trade deadline.

"Everybody wants to make their team better. But it's somebody else's decision who's going to be traded, who's not," Ovechkin said when asked about the prospects of roster moves. "If [GM] George {McPhee] is going to do something, I think it's going to be better for our club."

McPhee declined to talk after the game.

The loss dropped the Canadiens into last place in the Eastern Conference; Montreal and Carolina both have 58 points, but the Canadiens have played more games.

"Taking penalties at bad times. The power play's ineffective. It's frustrating, for sure," forward Erik Cole said after his team's third straight loss.

The Caps finally got off to a good start.

Poor defense by the Canadiens allowed Chimera to send a pass across the ice to an unchecked Mathieu Perreault, who beat Price 6:58 into the game to make it 1-0. It was the first time in seven games that the Caps have scored first; in four of their previous five games, they trailed 2-0.

"We talked about it before the game," Neuvirth said. "We needed a good start."

The goals by Chimera and Ovechkin made it a three-goal game. Ovechkin dropped to one knee and punched a glove in celebration after scoring his 25th goal of the season.

"He felt good out there," coach Dale Hunter said.

Bourque's goal gave the Canadiens some brief hope.

"We kept on in the third," coach Randy Cunneyworth said. "We got that one, and we had a couple of opportunities."

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
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