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Tomas Plekanec and Alex Ovechkin a Study in Game 1 Contrast

Apr 16, 2010 – 12:02 AM
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A.J. Perez

A.J. Perez %BloggerTitle%

WASHINGTON -- The mullet wasn't flowing and he wasn't wearing No. 68, but the cheers for Jaromir Jagr ran out from the Montreal Canadiens nonetheless Thursday night.

The target, Tomas Plekanec, wasn't complaining about the taunts, not after he netted the game-winner in overtime to nudge the Canadiens to a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of the first-round series at Verizon Center.

"I've heard it a couple of times already," Plekanec said. "I'll hear it tomorrow, too. That's what happens."

The references to fellow Czech Jagr started after Plekanec told French-language Montreal newspaper La Presse that "it's not as though we are facing (Martin) Brodeur or (Ryan) Miller." Caps goalie Jose Theodore retorted, "Tomas who? Jagr? Oh, Plekanec, OK. I thought you meant Jagr."

Canadiens lead series, 1-0
Canadiens 3, Capitals 2 (OT): Recap | Box Score | Series Page

No matter what they call him, Plekanec has the Habs up 1-0 in the best-of-seven series after his blast from the top of the face-off circle 13:19 into the extra period.

"Again, I never said anything bad about their goaltending," Plekanec said. "They have a good goalie and they proved it. I don't know. I've said it many times. He's a good goalie."

"... I don't think Alex (Ovechkin) played very well."
-- Bruce Boudreau
Theodore may not have been as busy as his Montreal counterpart, Jaroslav Halak, shots-wise, but the Caps goalie arguably faced more demanding volleys -- especially as the Caps struggled in the latter half of the second period. Michael Cammalleri scored the Habs' first goal on the power play with eight minutes left in the first and the only other goal Theodore allowed in regulation came on a slick deflection by Scott Gomez to tie the game, 2-2, with 13 minutes left.

"They had some chances in the second, but we were able to keep them out of the net," Theodore said. "In overtime, you only need one mistake and they got the bounce."

Theodore made 35 saves, a performance that likely rules out the possibility he could be replaced by rookie Semyon Varlamov, which happened after last year's playoff-opening loss to the New York Rangers.

Halak finished with 45 saves, but none of those came off the stick of two-time defending MVP Alex Ovechkin. Joe Corvo and Nicklas Backstrom had the Caps' tallies in Game 1.

"He didn't play good," Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I mean, they gapped up on him really well, but I don't think Alex played very well. I can't put my finger on it right now, but when you get 50 shots on goal and Ovechkin doesn't get any and you have four power plays ...."

Ovechkin, whose 50 regular-season goals put him one behind Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos for most in the NHL, was on the ice for 26 minutes, 26 seconds, the second-most ice time logged by a Caps player behind defenseman Mike Green. Ovechkin was also out for all but 21 seconds of Washington's eight minutes of power play time.

"Maybe we just need to play [a more] simple [game]," said Ovechkin, who has only been held without a shot one other time this season (against the Detroit Red Wings on Jan 19.). "We're going to think about it and make some changes."
Filed under: Sports