Joel Armia Powers Canadiens Past Capitals

Montreal Canadiens forward Joel Armia takes a knee during warmups before the Canadiens' April 6 game against the Washington Capitals. This was the Canadiens' Pride Night game.
Montreal Canadiens forward Joel Armia takes a knee during warmups before the Canadiens' April 6 game against the Washington Capitals. This was the Canadiens' Pride Night game. Photo via @CanadiensMTL on Twitter

The goal celebration for Nicklas Backstrom’s sixth power-play goal of the season was subdued. In the Washington Capitals’ first game since being eliminated from the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoff, the team looked like it was mentally already in the offseason. Washington lost 6-2 to the Montreal Canadiens, the second-lowest-ranked team in the Eastern Conference. Joel Armia scored a hat trick, including one of two shorthanded goals that Montreal recorded.

Washington was at a disadvantage from the start of the game, with Anthony Mantha ruled out with a lower-body injury only shortly before warmups began. This forced the team to dress only 17 skaters because no extra players had traveled to Montreal. Two important pieces were also missing: T.J. Oshie and Trevor van Riemsdyk have been out since March 30, both with upper-body injuries.

Despite the unexpected handicap, the Capitals started fairly well. Just past the five-minute mark of the game, Washington held a 3-1 edge in scoring chances. Half a minute later, Dylan Strome scored the first goal of the game, his 20th of the season.
In the second period, Nick Suzuki scored the Canadiens’ first goal in over 140 minutes when he appeared behind the Capitals’ power play unit and pulled the puck easily around Darcy Kuemper. Four minutes later, the Capitals were on the power play again but faced a draw in their defensive zone.

Evgeny Kuznetsov lost the faceoff, and the Canadiens quickly relayed the puck to Armia alone in the slot. Brendan Gallagher tallied what became the game-winner as the game approached the halfway point. Armia added a second goal to put the Canadiens up 4-1 with 8:45 remaining in the second period. The four goals took just over nine minutes of game action and accounted for one-third of the home team’s 12 shots on goals in the frame.

It took over 15 minutes of game time for another goal. The Capitals got a power-play opportunity with 6:50 remaining and pulled Kuemper halfway through for a six-on-four advantage. Backstrom scored on the edge of the crease off a pass from Strome. Strome was the only Capitals player to record more than one point. In his last 19 games, he has 24 points.

Washington pulled Kuemper once again with over four minutes remaining. The decision benefited Armia, who completed his second career hat trick with an empty-net goal after pushing past John Carlson for an airborne puck. In the final minute, Mike Hoffman got the sixth and final goal past Darcy Kuemper. Kuemper finished the game with a save percentage of .839. He has not saved more than 90% of shots since March 29th against the New York Islanders.

The Capitals have one calendar week remaining in the season. They will play the Florida Panthers on Saturday, then play back-to-back games on Monday and Tuesday before finishing against the New Jersey Devils next Thursday.

Stanley Cup Aspirations Cue’ the Duck Boats Pod

The boys are back after a long break but have plenty to talk about as the playoffs are in full swing. We go series by series, looking at how teams have fared so far and who will come out on top. Thanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Stanley Cup Aspirations
  2. The Final Countdown
  3. Here Come the Playoffs
  4. Home Stretch
  5. Kevy Cooks

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