Capitals\' Alex Ovechkin celebrates a goal by Nicklas Backstrom past Canadiens goaltender Carey Price. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
MONTREAL - Alexander Ovechkin did what was expected of him, but it's Mike Green who continues to open eyes across the NHL.
Ovechkin scored twice and Green potted the overtime winner to lead the Washington Capitals to a 5-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday afternoon.
Green scored the winner at 1:27 of overtime, converting a feed from Michael Nylander for the defenceman's 11th of the season and his third in his last three games.
The goal made Green the top-scoring defenceman in the league, one goal ahead of Montreal's Andrei Markov and Michal Rozsival of the New York Rangers, who played later Saturday.
So who exactly is this Mike Green?
"I'm getting that question asked an awful lot lately, and pretty soon he's going to be pretty well known," said Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau. "He's a great young player, and I don't know of too many defencemen his age who can do what he can do at the NHL level."
Green, a 22 year-old Calgary native, has piled up eight goals and seven assists in the 21 games since Boudreau took over as coach, and the fact he was on the ice in overtime after a few defensive miscues early in the game shows what kind of confidence he has in his young rearguard.
"I wasn't really happy with my first and second period," Green said. "To be put back out there and given a second chance makes all the difference for me."
Nicklas Backstrom and Boyd Gordon also scored for the Capitals (17-20-5), winners of three of their last four games.
Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn, Roman Hamrlik and Alex Kovalev scored for the Canadiens (20-13-8), who have collected at least a point in five straight games (3-0-2).
Ovechkin's two goals prevented the young sniper from going through his first three-game goalless streak of the season. He has gone two games without a goal only twice all season.
Ovechkin said the environment in Montreal, with a sellout crowd of 21,273 every night, suits him just fine.
"It's one of my favourite places to play hockey," Ovechkin said. "A huge crowd, people screaming before the game, nice music, you're just ready to play hockey. It's unbelievable."
Canadiens rookie netminder Carey Price, playing for the first time since Dec. 23, made 24 saves on 29 shots to lose his third straight start, while Caps goalie Olaf Kolzig made 23 saves for his third win in four games.
"We knew he would have ups and downs all year, we understand that," Habs head coach Guy Carbonneau said.
"I don't think he had a good performance, but he's not the only one."
With Montreal leading 2-0 nearing the midway point of the second, the Capitals roared back with three straight goals to take the lead before the end of the period.
"We completely stopped working over the last two periods and that's unacceptable," Carbonneau said.
"We're not a good enough team to get away with not working, and that's from beginning to end."
Ovechkin scored his 31st of the season on a power play at 8:31 with a quick wrist shot from the top of the circle.
Backstrom tied it when his wrist shot from the high slot beat Price high on the glove side at 11:53, and Gordon gave the Caps the lead 3-2 on a long slap shot at 18:51 of the second.
Boudreau credited tough guy Donald Brashear with riling up his team in the first intermission.
"One of our leaders came in after the first period and gave the group hell," Boudreau said. "We had a game plan, and some of us were on it and some of us weren't. We needed a kick in the butt and the guy gave it to them."
Hamrlik scored at 2:05 of the third to tie it back up for the Canadiens, but Ovechkin struck again with his 32nd at 6:38 when he came out of the penalty box unchecked and scored on a long wrist shot with three Montreal defenders surrounding him.
Kovalev tied it again at 4-4 at 11:26 on a wrist shot from the slot between two Caps defenders.
Ovechkin nearly won with less than five minutes left in regulation when his backhand went off the crossbar.
Montreal's league-leading power play produced the game's first goal at 2:38 of the first as Plekanec scored on a perfect feed from Kovalev.
The Canadiens extended their lead to 2-0 at 7:27 of the second on a goal from Kostitsyn made for the highlight reels as he turned Green inside out with a move between his legs before picking the top corner on Kolzig.
The goal was Kostitsyn's fifth in five games and he now has 15 points in his last 14 games, collecting at least a point in all but two of those contests.
Notes: Habs forwards Bryan Smolinski (knee), Steve Begin (shoulder) and defencemen Patrice Brisebois (shoulder) and Ryan O'Byrne (thumb) were not in uniform. . . . The Caps were without wingers Alexander Semin (tailbone) and Chris Clark (groin), and defencemen Tom Poti and Brian Pothier (upper body injuries). . . . The Caps improved their record in Canada this season to 4-0.