"You can see how we played," said Alex Ovechkin, the league's two-time defending MVP and Washington's captain. "I think we played great, we just didn't score. It's only one guy [that kept] them alive."
There was no mistaking that Jaroslav Halak's 53-save performance to anchor the Montreal Canadiens' 4-1 victory in Game 6 of the first-round series at Bell Centre Monday night. With every glove save Halak smothered, the Capitals took a stride closer to squandering a 3-1 series lead.
A loss in Game 7 in Washington on Wednesday would make the Capitals the sixth team with the top regular-season record to lose in the first round since 1968.
"It was the goaltender's night," veteran Capitals forward Mike Knuble said. "When you take 54 shots on goal, you can't say you didn't have chances. We had a lot of really good chances."
The league's top offense in the regular season has been stymied by a goalie whose stats during the same span put him in the middle of the pack. Halak was even pulled in Game 3 of this series and sat in place of Carey Price in Game 4.
But Halak has rebounded with 90 saves over the last two games, good for a 97.8 save percentage --- and more than just a handful came with a full complement of teammates in front of him.
The Capitals put 18 shots on Halak during their six power play opportunities as Washington's futility with the extra man continued in Game 6. Washington failed to register a shot on net -- although Ovechkin missed wide on a shot from the point -- as the Caps held a two-man advantage for 1:15 in the first period.
A Brooks Laich backhand on a scramble in front of Halak turned aside by Halak was as close as the Caps came to scoring during the sequence, which occurred right after Glen Metropolit's holding penalty expired to make it a 5-on-4 situation.
The Caps fell to 1-for-30 on the power play in the series.
"We had so many good chances that on a normal day would score for goals," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Today was not a normal day."
Eric Belanger was rotated into the power play for the first time of the series, but Boudreau wouldn't commit to any more changes -- even in the Capitals' net.
The second Michael Cammalleri tally and Maxim Lapierre's tally looked to be stoppable shots for Caps goalie Semyon Varlamov, who allowed three goals on 21 shots. He also allowed what appeared to be a soft goal in Friday's 2-1 loss on Friday as well.
Jose Theodore, who was tapped as a finalist for the Masterton Memorial Trophy earlier in the day, started the first two games of the series before he was replaced by Varlamov early in Game 2.
"I could [make a change in net]," Boudreau said. "I don't know. I haven't gotten that far yet. I think Theo would be ready if we decided to do that."
"Am I any more ready now?" Boudreau said in response to a question whether the three Game 7s in his tenure behind the Caps' bench aid the his team in any way. "Freak. We're ready. We are going to be ready. We've been through it."