MONTREAL -- The script was essentially written before the puck even dropped. And, true to form, Alex Ovechkin brought it to life before the closing credits rolled.
Sitting one behind Maurice "Rocket" Richard's 544 career goals entering the game, Ovechkin tied him on a power play at 16:36 of the third period in the city where the hockey legend spent his entire NHL career.
The goal capped the scoring in a 4-1 win for the Washington Capitals over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night at the Bell Centre.
"Every era has a great goal scorer and obviously the Rocket was fantastic," said Capitals coach Barry Trotz, who chatted with his captain before the game about the potential to equal the mark. "They named the trophy after him and Ovi's won it a number of times.
"Ovi's big on those big moments and from a standpoint, he recognized how great the Rocket was, and to just tie the record with him in this building would be pretty special."
Ovechkin also had two assists to give him 999 career points.
"It means I'm getting older," he quipped when asked what hitting such notable career marks meant to him. "I remember my first year, my first game, like it was five minutes ago. Time moves quick so you just have to enjoy every second, every moment when you have the opportunity."
Tomas Plekanec scored the lone goal for Montreal (25-10-6), which saw its three-game winning streak snapped.
"I thought we checked really well, for the most part," Trotz said. "I thought in the first two periods of limiting their chances we stayed above them a lot, we were able to break out fairly effectively and not let them swarm you, which they can."
The Canadiens got the crowd into it on the opening shift when the top line of Max Pacioretty, Phillip Danault and Alexander Radulov headed into the Capitals' end on an odd-man rush but never got a shot off after each touched the puck on passes.
Washington then picked up the pace, taking the next five shots before Montreal got its first and maintaining control of the action for several minutes thereafter.
The Capitals' efforts paid off a few minutes later. Ovechkin fired a shot from the top of the left circle that was stopped by Price, but Backstrom picked up the rebound, lifting a backhander into the right side of the net at 11:03 of the first period.
Bobby Farnham had one of the Canadiens' best chances in the second period when he took a Pacioretty feed and wired a shot from the right side that hit the post.
The home side started to find its legs a bit in the third period and drew several power plays. That led to a few chances, including Shea Weber hitting the post.
Montreal broke through moments later with the man advantage. After hitting the crossbar, Plekanec corraled the loose puck during a scramble in front of the net for his fourth goal of the season and first since Dec. 20 at 7:18. The Capitals challenged for goaltender interference, but the call stood.
The momentum didn't last long, however. Less than a minute later, Kuznetzov deked Montreal defenseman Jeff Petry before firing short side against Price.
"We got a big goal in the third and then for me, it was unacceptable for that to happen in that position of the game," Petry said.
Connolly extended the Capitals' lead to 3-1 at 11:00 when Kuznetsov intercepted Price's pass to a defenseman and dished off to Connolly at the top of the right circle.
"They got a goal right (we scored) and it was a bit deflating, but still, it's a 60-minute game," Pacioretty said. "It was a one-goal game for a while and then we tied it up. We've got to find a way to be better there at the end."
NOTES: Washington's Barry Trotz coached his 1,400th NHL game. ... Canadiens LW Paul Byron returned to the lineup after sitting out Saturday because of an upper-body injury. ... The Canadiens scratched LW Daniel Carr, LW Chris Terry and D Zach Redmond. ... Washington RW T.J. Oshie sat out because of an upper-body injury he sustained against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night. ... Capitals C Paul Carey and D Taylor Chorney were healthy scratches. ... Called up from the AHL's Hershey Bears, Capitals C Liam O'Brien played in his first NHL game of the season. ... Earlier in the day, Washington G Braden Holtby was selected the NHL's third star of the week.