Theodore easily played his best game to date as a Capital, stopping all 28 saves he faced. He played in control the entire game, looking very much like the all-star and MVP he was while wearing les blue, blanc et rouge of last night's opponent.
Theodore would not admit to revenge against a team that the last he faced surrendered eight goals in a loss while with Colorado in 2006, but completing the shut out had to be personally satisfying on top of providing a vital two points in the standings, on a night where four of his active defensemen were starters in Hershey (AHL) at the beginning of the season.
The team lost Tom Poti to a strained groin Wednesday in the Caps win over Atlanta, so Washington was forced to call up yet another minor leaguer to man their blue line, this time recalling veteran Bryan Helmer, to team with Tyler Sloan, Sami Lepisto and Karl Alzner as former Hershey Bears in the lineup for Washington against an offensively creative Canadiens team.
Tomas Fleischmann started the scoring for Washington when he snapped a shot past Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak. Canadians defenseman Francis Bouillon played the puck behind his own net, trying to pass out to a wing, but Fleischmann intercepted the pass right in front of Halak. Fleischmann tapped the puck to Michael Nylander, who was forechecking as well, and Nylander gave it right back and Fleischmann made no mistake.
Alex Ovechkin added his 13th goal of the season in the third period, extending his scoring streak to 10 straight games. During that stretch, he has tallied 11 goals and 11 assists, and leads the NHL in scoring in November and is now tied for second overall.
David Steckel redirected a shot from Lepisto at 8:46 to cap the scoring. The rest was left to Theodore.
Washington travels tonight to Columbus to face the Blue Jackets (9-10-3-21, fourth in Central Division) at 7:00 p.m. from Nationwide Arena. Brent Johnson will get the nod in goal tonight for the Caps.
Columbus is led on offense by Rick Nash (10-9-19, +3), with Derick Brassard, Kristian Huselius and R.J. Umberger all adding eight goals apiece. Rookie G Steve Mason has not looked out of place in his six starts. He's 4-1-1 with a .913 save percentage and a 2.28 GAA.
WAS: Fleischmann (9) from Nylander (1-11:03); Ovechkin (13) from Backstrom (3-3:42); Steckel (4) from Lepisto and Laich (3-8:46).
1. J. Theodore - WAS (Saves: 28, Save Pct: 1.000)
2. A. Ovechkin - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
3. T. Fleischmann - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
Washington Coach Bruce Boudreau earned his 50th win as the coach of the Capitals. He becomes the fastest to 50 in the team's history, recording the win in 84 games.
The 36-year-old Helmer played in his first NHL game since April 2004 with Phoenix.