Mike Knuble scored a game-tying shorthanded goal in the final seconds of the second period, Alex Ovechkin broke a tie by scoring his second of the game with less than 10 minutes to play in the third period and Jason Chimera scored 52 seconds later as the Capitals beat the Canadiens 6-3 at the Bell Centre on Wednesday night.
The win gives the Capitals a 3-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal. Washington can advance to the second round with a win at home on Friday night.
Chimera's goal looked like the insurance tally at 12:01, but Dominic Moore scored with 78 seconds left in the game to turn it into the winner. Knuble and Nicklas Backstrom sandwiched empty-net goals in the final 2:27 around Moore's first of the playoffs.
The arena was about to erupt at the final buzzer of the second period because Montreal was owning the play, had a 2-1 lead and was on a power play. But the 21,273 fans went silent when Boyd Gordon fed Knuble on a 2-on-1 for a shorthanded goal with 6.3 seconds left before intermission.
Tom Poti tried to clear the puck, but it hit off a stick and sort of deadened. Gordon picked it up and came down the left wing. He was somehow able to get a crossing pass through defenseman Josh Gorges
to Knuble for an easy tap-in goal at the right post.
It was a stunning momentum swing for the Capitals, who were chasing all period and gave Montreal three power-play chances. The Habs converted on the second one, as Brian Gionta
scored his second of the playoffs at 15:42 to make it 2-1.
Washington kept the momentum going into the third period and got the first six shots on goal. However, it wasn't until Alexander Semin finally showed up in the series that the Capitals were able to take the lead with 8:51 remaining.
Semin made a strong play with the puck on his stick in the neutral zone and drew a third man to him near the left wing wall. That freed Ovechkin during his center lane rush and Semin was able to find him with the puck. Ovechkin got between the circles and beat Montreal goalie Carey Price
to the glove side from about 15 feet.
Ovechkin also scored the first goal of the game 8:10 into the first period on a sharp wrist shot to the stick side from the top of the right circle. That was the Capitals' first power-play goal in 16 chances during the series. Ovechkin now has four goals in three games after being held without a shot in Game 1.
With the Canadiens reeling from Ovechkin's goal, Chimera made it 4-2 when he put home the rebound of Matt Bradley's wraparound attempt. Marc-Andre Bergeron made a terrible turnover behind the net to lead to the eventual winning goal.
Before Knuble's shorthanded goal, the Habs looked poised to even the series at 2-2. Price was doing what he needed to do and the Canadiens were peppering Washington goalie Semyon Varlamov.
Gionta finally beat him for a power-play goal after Andrei Markov
's hard pass from the left point aimed for Gionta hit off the end boards and caromed into the crease. Varlamov was near the top of the crease and the puck went behind him; Gionta was able to get his stick on it and poke it in.
Eight of Montreal's 21 shots in the second period came on the power play. In fact, Varlamov single-handily stopped the Canadiens on their first power play with six saves -- mostly from point-blank range.
Washington broke out of its elongated power play slump to strike first.
Nicklas Backstrom came down the center lane and fed a nice saucer pass to Ovechkin, who beat Price to the far side from the right circle 30 seconds after Andrei Kostitsyn went to the box for high-sticking Tom Poti.
The Capitals were 0-for-15 on the power play in this series and 0-for-22 dating back to the final two regular-season games before Ovechkin scored his third goal of the series. Washington missed its first power play Wednesday night.
Montreal struck back just 62 seconds later when Cammalleri scored his second of the series from the low slot.
The Habs won an offensive zone faceoff and Glen Metropolit took the puck behind the net. He played the puck to himself off the back of the goal before curling it around the right post. With the Caps standing around, Cammalleri got inside Eric Fehr and chipped in the rebound at 9:12.Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhlSee alsoThe Numbers game - April 21, 2010 Playoff Central