WASHINGTON -- The game's crucial play, or at least crucial from the Washington Capitals' point of view, came just 24 seconds into the third period with the Capitals trailing 1-0.
Mike Knuble set up shop on the edge of the Montreal crease, and Alex Ovechkin sent a shot toward the net that Habs goalie Jaroslav Halak couldn't find. But as the Capitals celebrated, referee Brad Watson disallowed the goal because Knuble had impeded Halak's ability to get set. Replays showed that if there had been contact, it was minor at worst. Replays also showed that the puck seemed to enter the net at the exact moment the contact was initiated.
"It feels like you're whining if you say things negative, but that was a pretty tough one to take," Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It looked like it didn't. If it did, it was so light, I don't know how they could make the call, and I thought the puck was in the net before that anyway.
"Again, it seems like I'm crying," Boudreau said. "I do know that they talked about us being in front of the net all the time to the supervisor [of officials], so I don't know if that had any effect or not."
Knuble was not happy with the call.
"That's a violation that hasn't been called all year, and I felt all night I wasn't a crease presence as far as being in the blue paint," the right winger said. "I was right on the edge where I should be, and we talked about it, the referee and I. I haven't seen the replay yet. That's something weird. We haven't seen it all year, and now it comes out in Game 7."
Next up: PittsburghWhile the Capitals were wondering where it all went wrong, the Canadiens were already looking forward to meeting the defending Stanley Cup-champion Penguins in the conference semifinals starting Friday in Pittsburgh.
"First thought is Sidney Crosby and the series he just had, playing as good as ever," Canadiens winger Mike Cammalleri said. "They earned it last year and they earned that respect. We're going to have our hands full."
Still, don't look for the Canadiens to be awestruck, not after knocking off the Presidents' Trophy winners.
"Our thing going into this series is we felt like we hadn't reached our full potential yet, and we were excited about moving toward that and we think we're still getting there," Cammalleri said. "A lot of guys care in this room. A lot of guys wanted to keep playing hockey."
Halak the greatHabs netminder Jaroslav Halak turned aside an incredible 131 of 134 shots he faced through the last three games of the series. Not bad for a guy who got pulled in Game 3.
"Before the series started, nobody gave us a chance to win, not even one game," Halak said. "We proved they were wrong. We showed a lot of character after being down 3-1 to come back like that. It's been a great series, but now the second round is ahead of us, and we have to make sure we're ready."