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Washington, Montreal to face off in first round of NHL playoffs

No. 1 Washington vs. No. 8 Montreal

Records: Capitals 54-15-13, Canadiens 39-33-10

Power Play: Capitals 25.2% (first), Canadiens 21.8% (second).

Penalty Killing: Capitals 78.8% (25th), Canadiens 83.0% (12th).

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Leading scorers: Capitals: Alexander Ovechkin 50-59—109, Canadiens: Tomas Plekanec 25-45—70.

Outlook: The Capitals led the NHL with 318 goals and a +85 goal differential. Ovechkin, third in the NHL scoring race, is the obvious reason but not the only one. Center Nicklas Backstrom (33 goals, 101 points, fourth overall) and left wing Alexander Semin (40 goals, 84 points) must also be reckoned with, and Mike Green led NHL defensemen in scoring with 76 points. The Canadiens, the only playoff team with a negative goal differential (217 for, 223 against) have to hope goalie Jaroslav Halak, whose .924 save percentage ranked in the league’s top five, can pull off a miracle.

Pick: Capitals in five.

SCHEDULE

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Thursday at Washington, 4 p.m.

Saturday at Washington, 4 p.m.

Monday at Montreal, 4 p.m.

April 21 at Montreal, 4 p.m.

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April 23 at Washington, 4 p.m.-x

April 26 at Montreal, 4 p.m.-x

April 28 at Washington, TBD-x

x-if necessary; all times Pacific

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