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Cammalleri feeling good after ending goal drought

by Dan Rosen
WASHINGTON -- Mike Cammalleri was hopeful prior to Game 1 against the Washington Capitals that he would find a way to break out of the longest scoring slump of his career.

He's heading into Game 2 Saturday night hopeful that he can make it a streak.

Cammalleri ripped home a power-play goal from the right circle just 12:36 into Thursday night's game at Verizon Center, opening the scoring for the Montreal Canadiens and snapping a streak of 12 straight games without a goal that dated back to Jan. 23. He sat out 17 games with a knee injury that bridged the Olympic break, but came into the playoffs with just two assists in nine games since returning.

"It felt good. It was nice to see it go in," Cammalleri, who had 26 goals in 65 games this season, said Saturday morning. "Eventually those things are going to break and it's nice that it did the last game."

Cammalleri wasn't depressed over his play since returning from his knee injury. He said Thursday that he was happy with his games leading up to the postseason, but just wasn't getting any puck luck.

However, Montreal coach Jacques Martin believes Cammalleri really started to come around and play his typical, aggressive, offensive game a week ago against Toronto in the Canadiens' final regular season game.

Cammalleri hit the net on six of the 11 shots he took (three got blocked and he misfired on two) in over 22 minutes of ice time. He was a minus-2 in Toronto's 4-3 overtime win.

"After coming back from the injury he probably needed a period of adjustment and he wasn't at the top of his game," Martin said. "He didn't score in the last game against Toronto, but he had several scoring chances, and I thought he gave us another strong game Thursday night."

To get his goal, Cammalleri handled a masterful cross-circle pass from Andrei Markov and quickly fired a wrist shot just inside the right post, past goalie Jose Theodore's stick side.

"I was trying to get that off as quick as I can to beat that defenseman with it," Cammalleri said. "And (I was trying) to shoot to an area that I think is going to be open instead of having time to think about what could be open."

He had several other scoring chances Thursday and was on the rush and calling for a pass when his linemate, Tomas Plekanec, beat Theodore with the overtime winner. Cammalleri hit the net on four of 11 shot attempts. He also had two hits and a takeaway.

"I think so, yeah," Cammalleri said when asked if Game 1 was one of his better games in a long while. "It's playoffs, it's exciting and it usually gets the best out of you. I think I thrive off that intensity in a game and I felt good out there."

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau had to realize that would happen for Cammalleri.

Cammalleri played under Boudreau for parts of three seasons when the two were with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League from 2002-05, and the player was one of the coach's all-time favorites because of how he was able to raise his game.

Now that he did against Boudreau and the Capitals in Game 1, Cammalleri can expect a heck of a lot more attention in Game 2.

"Whenever you score or you have some success they're going to take note," Cammalleri said. "That's the interesting thing about the playoffs, you play the same team over and over so you get a chance to go back to the drawing board every game and react to the game prior. We'll be up to the challenge."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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