Washington did not let its 14-game winning streak end without a fight. The Capitals scored three goals in the third period to send the game into overtime only to see the Canadiens score with eight seconds left in the extra period to win, 6-5, in Montreal.
Tomas Plekanec scored his second goal of the game at 4:52 of overtime to give the Canadiens (29-26-6) the victory.
Washington (41-12-7) lost for the first time in nearly a month, falling three wins short of the NHL-record of 17 straight victories set by Pittsburgh in 1992-93.
The loss also snapped Washington goalie Jose Theodore's 10-game winning streak, leaving him tied for the franchise record. Theodore came on in relief of starter Michal Neuvirth, who left the game after reportedly aggravating a previous knee injury early in the second period.
The Capitals sent the game into overtime when Brooks Laich scored with 18.4 seconds left in the third period and Theodore off for an extra skater.
Trailing 5-2 after Plekanec scored Montreal's fourth goal of the second with 1:04 left in the period, Washington battled back with three goals in the third -- including two by Laich.
Montreal played an agressive game, against a much better skilled Capitals team, getting on the scoreboard early when Scott Gomez took advantage of his team's forecheck , beating Neuvirth for his ninth goal of the season.
The Canadiens kept the pressure on, but Laich struck back just under six minutes later for Washington, slipping past a sleeping Montreal defense and putting a fancy deke on Carey Price.
Montreal kept up their aggressive play, for the rest of the period, keeping the Capitals at bay and shutting down the leagues No. 1 power play for over four minutes.
The period ended on a frightening note, when Josh Gorges attempted to block a Mike Green shot and took the blast off the side of his helmet. The team doctor rushed out immediately and after some tense minutes, Gorges got up under his own power and was escorted off the ice, bleeding from the ear area of his helmet.
The Canadiens should have more information on the extent of Gorges' injury sometime Thursday, but early prognosis is that he will be ok.
Montreal's aggressive tactics continued into the second period, when a strong forecheck led to Tom Pyatt's first NHL goal 41 seconds into the period.
"It took me a while (20 games), but it's nice to get that first one out of the way," Pyatt said. "You automatically feel better when you get any kind of goal."
The Capitals, and Alexander Ovechkin responded hastily in a fashion they are known for just 30 seconds later, as Ovechkin set up Niklas Backstrom to tie the game at two.
In light of the jeers from the Bell Centre crowd, Theodore came up with some big saves against the team that gave him his start in the NHL.The former Hart and Vezina trophy winner with the Canadiens finally caved, on the power play, when David Desharnais' shot deflected off the skate of Glen Metropolit. It was follwed just 12 seconds later by a Maxim Laperre goal, giving the Canadiens a two goal lead.
The Capitals thought they had a goal back, and they should have, when Ovechkin plowed into Hal Gill, knocking the Canadiens defender, Price and the puck into the net. The goal was disallowed, which drove the Capital bench ballistic. Earlier in the period, a Gill poke check on Ovechkin caused a too-many-men minor against Washington.
Montreal closed out the first 40 minutes with a three goal lead, after Kostitisyn set up Plekanec's 16th goal with just more than a minute to play, and left the ice to a standing ovation.
The Canadiens continued some exceptional play in the offensive zone, with Kostitsyn emerging as the player he was thought to be when he was drafted from the London Knights. The Belarusian set up many opportunities and had many chnaces of his own.
As a Montreal power play ended with just under 12 minutes remaining, Laich scored his second of the night on a two-on-one rush.
Washington continued to fight back, and with the net empty and 18 seconds to play, Laich found the net for the hat trick sending the game into overtime.
The Canadiens managed to keep Ovechkin and company to just two shots in the extra time, and Plekanec found the back of the net, with just eight seconds remaining, for the win.
"I liked the way we battled, especially the way we reacted in overtime," Martin said. "We came back after that late goal, and we never gave them a sniff in over time. Tonight we found a way to win it."
Martin also praised the play and character of Carey Price, who made 34 saves, some very difficult, for the win after going two weeks without a start.
"Over the last few weeks I've been working my ass off, and looking for the rewards," Price said. "The guys played hard and they scored some goals for me against a team that likes to run and gun.