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Caufield scores in OT as Canadiens edge Caps 3-2

MONTREAL — Cole Caufield scored 47 seconds into overtime winner as the Montreal Canadiens edged the visiting Washington Capitals 3-2 on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
Montreal Canadiens' Brendan Gallagher (11) celebrates his goal over Washington Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper during second period NHL hockey action in Montreal on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi

MONTREAL — Cole Caufield scored 47 seconds into overtime winner as the Montreal Canadiens edged the visiting Washington Capitals 3-2 on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.

Sean Monahan and Brendan Gallagher also scored for Montreal (2-1-1) while Dylan Strome scored a pair for Washington (1-2-1) which has only won once this season.

Montreal started the game on the front foot, getting the puck deep and establishing a strong forecheck. This led to the game’s first chance just three minutes into the game when Michael Pezzetta intercepted a pass and came streaking in but rang a shot off the post.

“We made a lot of progress tonight. I feel that we missed the net a lot, but generating those chances is important,” said head coach Martin St. Louis. “It’s easy to get lost as a group, we’re chasing perfection knowing we’ll never get there. It’s impossible to be perfect, but we’re fixing this as we see them.”

As the first period continued, the biggest chance of the frame came with two minutes left. An offensive-zone turnover from Monahan immediately turned into a two-on-one for the Capitals, who were denied by the outstretched pad of Canadiens netminder Jake Allen.

Monahan would atone for his mistake just one minute later on the power play. After some slick passing, Nick Suzuki spotted him open right in front of goal and an inch-perfect feed left him with a wide-open net, giving Montreal the lead at the intermission.

“We trust each other, we believe in the group. At times, things don’t go your way and you have to stick with it,” said Monahan, who scored only the second goal on the man advantage for the club this year. “We got one power-play goal and we could have gotten a few more, I think. Everybody stepped up in a big way.”

As the second period began, both teams increased the pace of play, opting to break in and cycle the puck rather than relying on the forecheck. This opened the ice up and allowed Montreal’s speed to generate a second goal. After entering the zone with speed, Monahan dropped the puck in the slot for an onrushing Gallagher who doubled Montreal’s lead.

Trailing by two, the Capitals pressed further forward, committing more numbers in attack. Despite the pressure and four power-play opportunities, they could not find a way to beat Allen.

“Every goalie would rather work more than less, but every game’s different,” said Allen whose 31 saves saw him receive first-start honours after the game. “I was impressed with the group in front of me, especially after (the 5-2 loss to Minnesota earlier in the week) that’s not us and we wanted to get back to our game.”

The third period was more of the same as both teams could not stay out of the box, committing four penalties in the opening nine minutes. Washington would finally find their way through with eight minutes left in regulation. Alex Ovechkin received the puck in a two-on-one down low and found Strome, cutting the lead to one.

Despite taking another penalty, the Capitals were able to continue their momentum and produced a second goal with just two minutes left in regulation. In a near identical goal to his first, Strome found himself along at the back door and made no mistake into the open net for his second of the night, sending the game to overtime.

“I thought we did take some positive steps tonight, big picture-wise during all three periods,” said Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery. “We’re really struggling to finish and score goals right now so for us to fight back and kill a ton of penalties … I liked the character of the battle.”

Less than a minute into the extra frame, Caufield found himself with space on the left wing before unleashing a perfect shot at the near post, beating Darcy Keumper.


Montreal visits the Buffalo Sabres on Monday, while Washington returns home to host the Toronto Maple Leafs the following evening.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2023.

Elias Grigoriadis, The Canadian Press