Despite Brooks Laich's first NHL hat trick and another three-goal third period, the Washington Capitals saw their franchise record 14-game winning streak fall to the Montreal Canadiens, 6-5.
Montreal's Tomas Plekanec scored with less than eight seconds remaining in overtime, putting a dagger in the longest winning streak in the Capitals 35 year history.
That the Caps were playing in overtime at all was surprising, as Laich completed his hat trick with 18.4 seconds left in regulation. Montreal forward Glen Metropolit took a late penalty with 2:32 left and while the Caps failed to register on the power play, they lifted goalie Jose Theodore (21 saves on 25 shtos) for the extra attacker as time wore down.
When Laich solved Canadiens goalie Carey Price (33 saves), the Caps had to feel like they'd won the game, stealing a point in a game they once trailed 5-2.
Overtime was back-and-forth, and when the Caps couldn't convert on a rush with less that 30 seconds, it looked like the game was going to penalty shots. But Sergei Kostitsyn carried deep into the offensive zone, and found Plenkanec behind defenseman Jeff Schultz for the tap in on Theodore.
It was a brutal ending to a fantastic comeback.
Washington played it's way into the three-goal deficit. There were blown defensive assisgnments, lack of concentration by goalies Theodore and Michal Neuvirth (who left the game without explanation early in the second period), and lazy stick penalties by forwards Alexander Semin and Brendan Morrison, the latter resulting in a Montreal power play goal, and another one just 12 seconds after that.
But a power play goal by Mike Green 16 seconds into the third got the Caps off on the comeback, and Laich tallied two more times in the stanza to send the game into the extra period.
Washington also had a goal inexplicably waived off in the second period. Montreal defenseman Hal Gill had the puck at his feet in the slot in front of Price. Alex Ovechkin lowered his shoulder into Gill, sending the large defender into his goalie, puck and all. When the puck slid under Price and into the goal, the referee originally, and emphatically, signaled goal.
But after the play, the officiating squad met at the scorer's desk, and without replay, overturned the goal.
Montreal came in short-handed, missing five regulars and top scorer Mike Cammalleri, and lost Josh Georges late in the first period when he went down to block a shot from the point by Green and took it off his right cheek. Georges lay motionless for several moments in a pool of blood, but eventually left under mostly his own power and is listed as day-to-day for Montreal.
The Capitals seem to be getting banged up now too. Jason Chimera missed the game due to a strained groin suffered in practice Tuesday, and Tom Poti missed much of the third period. The Caps are expected to make a couple call-ups from Hershey today in case either player can't go tonight againt Ottawa.