CAPITALS 3, CANADIENS 2 (SO): Alexander Semin scored in the third round of the shootout as host Washington took sole possession of the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot.
With the victory, Washington pulled within two points of first-place Florida in the Southeast Division.
Semin, who also had an assist, deked Peter Budaj and fired in a low shot to seal the victory. Matt Hendricks tallied in the first round to give Washington the early advantage.
The Capitals took an early 2-0 lead on goals by Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle in the first period.
Erik Cole banged in a rebound for his 32nd goal with 21.5 seconds left in the period to trim the deficit to one.
Tomas Plekanec erased the two-goal deficit in the second period when his shot sailed past Michal Neuvirth and under the crossbar to knot the game at 2-2. Neuvirth rebounded and made 39 saves for his 14th win.
The Canadiens dropped their fourth consecutive contest and remain dead last in the Eastern Conference.
Nicklas Backstrom, who hasn’t played since suffering a concussion on Jan. 3, was held without a point and played just under 20 minutes in his return after missing 40 games.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Capitals goaltender Tomas Vokoun (groin) didn't play. ... Canadiens forward Petteri Nokelainen left the game with an upper-body injury. ... The Capitals swept the season series. ... Montreal has dropped six straight road games.