09/20/2017 19:18 EDT | Updated 09/21/2017 16:14 EDT

Smith-Pelly scores winner as Capitals beat Canadiens in pre-season play

MONTREAL — Jonathan Drouin showed a lot of promise in his Montreal Canadiens debut.

Drouin got an assist as the Canadiens dropped a penalty-filled NHL pre-season game 4-2 against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.

The 22-year-old was a constant threat, especially on the power play, in his first official game in a Habs uniform.

"It was all very cool," said Drouin, who was traded for defensive prospect Mikhail Sergachev in the off-season. "In the warm-up I had a few butterflies. It was very special for me.

"As the game went on we got better and better."

Montreal, which probably deserved a better outcome, dropped its second straight pre-season game despite outshooting Washington 43-22.

Drouin finished the game with one point, one shot, three hits and a takeaway in 18:44 of ice time, more than half of which was on the power play. The Quebec-born player nearly scored a goal in his debut but his second-period wrist shot rang off the iron.

The former Tampa Bay Lightning winger, who is poised to become Montreal's first-line centre, lost his first six faceoffs before winning seven of his next nine.

"Jonathan is such a smart player," said coach Claude Julien. "There's more to his game than what he's shown. He's only going to get better.

"We're not stuck making the same plays because he has good vision. You don't know if he's going to throw it to the point or if he's going to pass it down low or go for a quick release.

"There's a lot that Jonathan can see and do."

Drouin's play with the man advantage led to Montreal's equalizer at 11:37 of the second period. With Tom Wilson in the box, Drouin faked a slap shot only to feed Ales Hemsky, who found Max Pacioretty all alone next to the goal with a perfect saucer pass.

After Pacioretty made it 2-2, former Canadien Devante Smith-Pelly scored the winner with 5:54 remaining in the third period when he deflected Connor Hobbs' point shot over Charlie Lindgren, who lost sight of the puck. The Caps added an empty-net goal.

"I just tried to go to the net and he (Hobbs) hit me with it," said Smith-Pelly. "They were putting the pressure on and we just wanted to push them back. After that goal we really kept it on them and kept the momentum."

Special teams were the difference as the first four goals of the game were scored on the power play.

Evgeny Kuznetsov got the visitors on the board at 5:07 of the first as he danced around Habs defenceman Mark Streit to move clear on goal.

Jakub Vrana made it 2-0 when his centring pass deflected off Brandon Davidson's stick into the roof of the net.

Charles Hudon got one back for the Canadiens at 1:16 of the second on a one-timer in the slot off a perfect feed from defenceman Victor Mete.

The Capitals took nine minor penalties in the game to Montreal's four.

"It was hard to get into the rhythm and feel the pace," said Washington's Alex Ovechkin. "Lots of penalties for them as well. We didn't have too much time on 5-on-5. And first game you feel kind of stiff."

Carey Price, in his first game of the pre-season, allowed two goals on 10 shots before being replaced by Lindgren at 9:22 of the second period. Lindgren made 10 saves in relief.

Philipp Grubauer stopped 20-of-21 shots. His replacement Pheonix Copley made 21 saves.

Notes: Andrew Shaw (neck) and Noah Juulsen (foot) were not in the lineup for the Canadiens. Both players were injured in Montreal's first pre-season game on Monday.