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Good Start, Bad Finish!

By Rodger M. WoodSemyon VarlomovAfter a 5-day All Star break, and truly enough time to sort out a winning strategy for the stretch run and April playoffs, our poor Caps still couldn’t get the complete game they needed to beat playoff nemesis Montreal Canadiens in a big test at the Verizon Center last night.Pressing ferociously in the Montreal end most the first period, they took a 2-0 lead on an even man goal by Mathieu Perreault and a power play goal by Mike Knuble, which was also assisted by Perreault.At the intermission, they could rest assured their play was aggressive and power play was working well again, They were looking good and the 18,398 Capital fans attending had to be impressed after their one period rejuvenated play.But then after defenseman John Erskine fell down at mid ice and couldn’t get back to defend, the roof fell in. With Russian forward Andrei Kostitsyn flying on his flank in a pretty two on one breakaway, Habs captain Brian Givonta beat Caps goalie Semyon Varlomov at 8:29 mark of the second period to make the game 2-1.Less than three minutes before the end of the second period, Caps defenseman, John Carlson made a rookie mistake trying a drop pass to Perreault, which was interceptedby Canadiens Thomas Plekanec, who set up Givonta for the tie goal, his second of the night.While they didn’t cost any goals, questionable tripping, slashing, and hooking penalties to Brooks Laich, who doesn’t drawn that many penalties, cost the Capstheir aggressive get up and go in the second and third periods.The Caps worked hard to kill the penalties, hung on in overtime, tied 2-2, but then proceeded to lose their 8th straight half sucked cough drop game on Givonta’s goal in theovertime shootout.Caps goalie Semyon Varlomov was spectacular in the nets again, stopping 36 of 38 shots.After the game, Coach Boudreau chalked the defeat up more to mistakes than Caps lack of hard play.The Caps meet Southeast Division leader Tampa Bay Friday at Tampa. Tampa beat the conference leading Philadelphia Flyers 4-0 at Philadelphia last night to take a five point lead over the Capitals for first place in the division race.

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