With their 4-1 win over the Canadiens in Montreal on Monday night, the Capitals matched their season high winning streak of six straight games. The Caps also won six straight from Dec. 5-16 of this season, and they've now had eight winning streaks of at least five games in length since the start of the 2015-16 season.
Nicklas Backstrom scored on a rebound of an Alex Ovechkin point shot midway through the first frame of Monday's game, and the Caps nursed that 1-0 lead into the third period. It marked the third straight game - and the 14th time in 40 games this season - Washington has blanked the opposition for the game's first 40 minutes this season.
Video: WSH@MTL: Backstrom sweeps rebound home on backhand
The Caps ran into some penalty trouble in the third, taking a bench minor for too many men on the ice in the first minute of the final frame, and going shorthanded twice more after that. It was with one second remaining on the second of those shorthanded situations that Montreal pulled even, getting a Tomas Plekanec goal on a goalmouth scramble to tie the game at 1-1 with 12:42 reamining.
Evgeny Kuznetsov answered right back with a dazzling rush goal to restore the Caps' lead less than a minute later, and goals from Brett Connolly and Ovechkin sealed the deal and lifted the Capitals to a sixth straight victory.
Video: WSH@MTL: Kuznetsov dances past defenseman and scores
A combination of top six scoring, defensive stinginess and some timely stops from Braden Holtby helped the Capitals cool the Habs, who were 4-0-2 in their previous six games. The Caps have held opponents to two or fewer goals in five of the last six games and they've surrendered 30 or fewer shots on net in each of their last seven. Washington has outscored the opposition by a combined total of 24-9 during the life of its current six-game winning streak.
Rocket Man - Ovechkin's power-play goal in the third period capped a three-point night for the Caps' captain, and it was the 544th goal of his NHL career. That ties him with Canadiens legend Maurice "Rocket Richard" for 29th place on the NHL's all-time goals scored list.
Video: WSH@MTL: Ovechkin snaps in his 999th career point
When Richard hung up his skates after the 1959-60 season, he did so with 544 goals in 978 career NHL contests. Ovechkin matched Richard in 99 fewer games, and he did so in the city where Richard played for the entirety of his illustrious career in the league.
Beginning in 1998-99, the league awards the Rocket Richard Trophy to the top goal getter in the NHL at the end of every season. Ovechkin has won the Richard Trophy six times; no other player has won it more than once.
With three points in Monday's game, Ovechkin now has 999 for his NHL career. The Capitals begin a three-game homestand on Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, giving the home folks a chance to see Ovechkin become the first Russian born player to reach the 1,000-point plateau.
"I went by him today and we talked," says Caps coach Barry Trotz. "I said it would be pretty cool because every era has a great goal scorer. Obviously The Rocket was fantastic, and they named the trophy after him, and Ovi has won it a number of times. Ovi is big on the big moments. I think he recognizes how great The Rocket was and to just tie the [goal total] with him in this building would be pretty special, so it was really good.
"And then he got real close to that thousandth point. I think it should be right for him to get that one in Washington in front of our own fans."
Ovechkin recorded his three-point night despite skating just 15:20 on the evening, his second lowest single-game ice time total of the season. He logged 15:05 against the Flames in Calgary on Oct. 30 as the Caps finished off a set of back-to-back games that night.
Video: WSH@MTL: Holtby robs Farnham with sliding pad stop
Missed It By That Much - Holtby carried a shutout into the third period for the third straight game, but Plekanec's goal ended his bid for a third straight whitewash. Holtby's shutout streak - the longest of his NHL career - stopped at 169 minutes and 12 seconds.
The Washington netminder has allowed two or fewer goals in 10 of his last 12 starts, and he has pitched four shutouts during that span. Since the turn of the calendar to 2017, Holtby is 4-0 in five starts, with two shutouts, a 1.15 GAA and a .965 save pct.
Finally, Holtby's mastery over the Habs at Bell Centre continues. In eight career starts in the Montreal barn, Holtby is now 7-0-1 with two shutouts, a 1.35 GAA and a .949 save pct.
Shutdown Street - Going into Monday's game against Washington, the Canadiens had rolled up 31 or more shots on net in eight of their previous nine games, and they had totaled 40 or more shots in three of those contests. The Caps limited the Habs to just 23 shots on net for the night, and just 20 of those came at even strength.
"I think overall we played pretty good tonight," says Kuznetsov. "We tried to keep their guys on the outside. So they got some shots, but Holtby saved us a couple of times, like usual. That's huge for us."
The Canadiens rank eighth in the NHL with an average of 30.9 shots on net per night, while Washington ranks sixth in shot suppression, allowing 27.9 shots on net per contest.
"I think we were just playing our own game," says Caps center Lars Eller, "which just means a heavy game - strong on pucks and playing tight in the neutral zone. We kept the puck among ourselves as much as we could."
Six Shooter - With T.J. Oshie out of the lineup on Monday because of an upper body injury sustained in Saturday's game against the Senators in Ottawa, Trotz moved Connolly onto the right side of a line with Ovechkin and Backstrom, and each of the three scored in the game against the Canadiens.
Video: WSH@MTL: Connolly buries Kuznetsov's feed to pad lead
Each member of the Caps' second line registered a point in the game as well, as Kuznetsov had a goal and an assist while Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams both contributed assists to the cause.
By The Numbers - Matt Niskanen led the Caps with 23:06 in ice time … Ovechkin led the Caps with five shots on net while John Carlson led the way with eight shot attempts … The Capitals blocked a single-game high of 24 shots on Monday, with the defensive duo of Carlson (four) and Karl Alzner (six) combined to account for 10 of them … Connolly and Tom Wilson led the Caps with three hits each.