Montreal Canadiens\' Tom Kostopoulos (6) tries to get to the puck against Washington Capitals goalie Jose Theodore, left, during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, Nov. 28, 2008, in Washington. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Nick Wass
WASHINGTON - Jose Theodore tried to downplay the importance of his shutout against his old Montreal Canadiens teammates.
Theodore, who spent parts of 10 seasons with Montreal before being traded to Colorado in March 2006, made 28 saves for the first shutout with Washington in the Capitals' 3-0 victory over the Canadiens on Friday night.
"I knew in the first period I was seeing the puck well," said Theodore, who has 26 career shutouts. "Even if I didn't see a lot of shots early, I knew I would need a good shot to beat me."
Theodore's second game against Montreal was a lot better than his first. He allowed eight goals in a loss to the Canadiens on Oct. 21, 2006, with Colorado.
Alex Ovechkin, Tomas Fleischmann and David Steckel scored to help the Capitals win their seventh straight at home - the longest streak since also winning seven in a row from Nov. 17-Dec. 16, 2000. Washington is 9-0-1 at home, and is 15-0-1 since March 9.
This season didn't start well for Theodore. He was pulled after allowing four goals in 30 minutes in the opening game in Atlanta and, after sitting in favour of Brent Johnson for four games this month, he's back in favour.
"He was fabulous," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "For his confidence, for his mind-set, it was great to see for him for a confidence builder."
Fleischmann opened the scoring at 11:03 of the first period. In back of his own net, Montreal's Francis Bouillon tried to flip the puck down the ice, but Fleischmann intercepted it just in front of the net. He tapped the puck to Michael Nylander, who immediately returned it to Fleischmann, and the winger sent it past Jaroslav Halak for his ninth goal of the season. Fleischmann has five goals in his last eight games.
Ovechkin added his 13th goal of the season, and his fourth in the last two games at 3:42 in the third when he skated at Halak, who was making his first appearance in the last seven games, and shot it cleanly past him. Ovechkin has scored in 10 straight games. During those 10 games, he has 11 goals and 11 assists.
The shutout seemed more important to Ovechkin than his own streak.
"Before the game, (Theodore) didn't talk. He just concentrated on (the) game," Ovechkin said. "Today, he played well and deserved it. He deserved it."
Two minutes after Ovechkin's goal, Washington had a two-man advantage for 1:42, but couldn't score. About three minutes later, Steckel scored his fourth goal of the season.
Theodore was tested in the second period, with the Capitals clinging to a 1-0 lead. Neither team scored, but the Canadiens were clearly more aggressive - outshooting Washington 13-7 but failing to capitalize.
"The saves he made over a period of five minutes in the second period were pretty dazzling," Boudreau said.
Halak played well, his coach thought, but his teammates didn't.
"Jaro - that's where I'm embarrassed," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. "We come up with that kind of game, and that kind of effort - and I'm really sad for him.'
Carbonneau was grudging in praise of the former Canadiens goalie.
"He was lucky at some times," Carbonneau said. "He made the saves when he had to. We didn't really test him."
The victory was Washington coach Bruce Boudreau's 50th since he took over the team on Thanksgiving Day 2007, tying him for sixth place among Capitals. He reached 50 wins in 84 games, the fastest to the mark in team history.
Notes: The Canadiens were without LW Alex Tanguay (whiplash). RW Georges Laraque missed his third straight game because of a groin injury. RW Matt D'Agostini, recalled Thursday from Hamilton, was a healthy scratch for Montreal. ... Montreal begins a seven-game homestand - its longest in history - on Saturday against Buffalo. The Canadiens' next road game is Dec. 16 at Carolina. ... Capitals D Tom Poti was scratched because of a groin injury. Seven Washington regulars missed the game because of injuries. To replace Poti, the Capitals recalled D Bryan Helmer from Hershey. The 36-year-old Helmer played in his first NHL game since April 2004 with Phoenix.