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Capitals' No. 1 power play shut down by Canadiens

NHL.com @NHL

MONTREAL (AP) -How have the Montreal Canadiens shut down the Washington Capitals' top-ranked power play in the playoffs?

"Simple. It's one-on-one battles," Capitals left winger Tomas Fleischmann said after practice Saturday in Arlington, Va. "They are really fast little guys just going around and taking the pucks from us. We always have one guy on the puck and they always have two and they win the battle. It's tough. We have to get the power play going if we want to win the series."

Washington has only goal from Alex Ovechkin to show for its 24 opportunities with the man advantage in its first-round series against Montreal.

Despite a 2-1 loss to the Canadiens in Game 5 on Friday night, the Capitals are ahead 3-2 in the Eastern Conference first-round series - with nearly no contribution from a key source of offense.

"We have to look at things on the power play. It's obviously not working," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It's new to this group because for two years it's always worked. We're watching it and watching video and looking for mistakes and looking for changes. Sometimes you change too much instead of just saying go out there and do what you normally do. We'll figure something out."

The Capitals, who led the NHL with a 25.2 percent success rate during the regular season, had a great opportunity to work on their struggling power play Saturday. Washington went 0 for 5 with the man advantage in Game 5, failing in their first of up to three straight chances to close out the series against the eighth-seeded Canadiens.

With two days off until Game 6 in Montreal on Monday night, Boudreau was confident that his power play would benefit from extra practice. He couldn't resist taking a shot at Canadiens coach Jacques Martin, who Boudreau spotted in the Bell Centre stands while the Capitals were trying to work out the kinks in practice.

"I think the last time we had this situation and we got a chance to regroup it was better for us," Boudreau said. "We get a chance to have a practice under our belt and work on some things that aren't working without anybody watching."

Martin practiced some gamesmanship of his own as the Canadiens held a team meeting and off-ice workouts at their suburban practice rink Saturday.

"They're the number one team in the league," Martin said. "You look at what their accomplishment has been during the regular season and you look at their skill players, their depth - for sure the pressure is on them but the bottom line is we have to be ready to compete and go hard on Monday."

The Canadiens, who will return to the ice for practice Sunday, were written after they lost twice at home last week. But a solid 37-save effort from Jaroslav Halak and a strong team game gave Montreal its second road win of the series.

"I think the pressure is still on us," forward Travis Moen said. "We have to win two in a row and they just have to win one."

Moved onto one of Montreal's top lines Friday, replacing Benoit Pouliot alongside Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta, Moen scored the Canadiens' second goal.

"I wasn't sure what to expect," Moen said. "I didn't know if it was just a first shift of the game thing. But if it was me with those guys I was just going to keep it simple, play physical and try and get them the puck."

After winning the series opener in Washington, 3-2 in overtime, Montreal blew a 4-1 lead in Game 2 and lost 6-5 in overtime. The Canadiens came home and had an excellent first period, but fell apart after giving up a short-handed goal and were beaten 5-1. They followed with two strong periods in Game 4, but came undone again after another short-handed goal.

"It's kind of bizarre that way," Capitals forward Boyd Gordon said. "We have been good at home all year. Montreal is a tough building to play in and we go in there and win two. It hasn't really made too much sense, but hopefully that trend continues for us in Game 6 and we can get the win."

The Canadiens have lost each of their last six playoff games at home over the last three years.

"We have to play a lot better at home," Moen said. "We've played a lot better in Washington and I think we owe it to the fans to come out and have a strong performance."

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