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Alex Ovechkin ties Maurice Richard’s Goal Total in Win Over Canadiens

The bottom line: Evgeny Kuznetsov scored at 8:12 of the third period to snap a 1-1 tie and the Washington Capitals went on to defeat the Canadiens 4-1 Monday at the Bell Centre. Kuznetsov stepped inside defenceman Jeff Petry and had a clear path to Carey Price. Brett Connolly added an insurance goal at 11:00 and Alex Ovechkin tied Maurice Richard’s total of 544 goals at 16:36. Braden Holtby, last season’s Vézina Trophy winner, made 22 saves to boost his career record against Montreal to 9-1-2. Price made 35 saves.

Plekanec beats the clock: Tomas Plekanec tied the game at 7:18 of the third period, burying a rebound of a shot by Paul Byron with one second remaining in a power play. The Canadiens came close earlier in the advantage as Shea Weber and Plekanec both hit goal posts.

Where they’re at: The Canadiens continue to lead the Atlantic Division with 56 points. They are nine points ahead of the Boston Bruins and they hold two games in hand. It was the sixth consecutive win for the Capitals, who move into third place in the Metropolitan Division. They have 57 points and are tied in points with Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers. The Penguins have the edge because they have played 39 games while Washington has played 40. The Rangers dropped into fourth place because they have played 42 games.

Capitals set the pace: Washington outshot Montreal 12-7 in the first period and grabbed a 1-0 lead when Nicklas Backstrom scored at 11:03. Price made a save on Alex Ovechkin but left a rebound and Backstrom scored on a backhander for his 10th goal of the season.

Quick return for Byron: Left winger Byron was back in the lineup after missing only one game with an upper-body injury. He replaced Daniel Carr while Nikita Scherbak, who scored in his NHL debut Saturday in Toronto, received another start. Andrei Markov and Alex Galchenyuk have been cleared for contact but remain on the injured-reserve list.

Milestone for Trotz: Washington coach Barry Trotz was behind the bench for his 1,400th NHL game and he posted his 684th win, which pulls him even with the late Pat Quinn for seventh place on the all-time NHL wins list. Trotz has a long way to go before catching Scotty Bowman, the all-time leader with 1,244 victories.

Back on the road: Just as the Canadiens were adjusting to home cooking and sleeping in their own beds, they’re looking at a couple of days of frigid temperatures with back-to-back games in Winnipeg Wednesday (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet, RDS, TSN 690 Radio) and Minnesota Thursday. The Canadiens are back home to play the New York Rangers Saturday.phickey@postmedia.com

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