WASHINGTON // Brent Johnson's goal-tending helped the Washington Capitals to a 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday, their third home win a row. Johnson's 28 saves, including a third-period penalty shot, improved the Capitals' home record to 5-0-1 and moved them within two points of the Southeast Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes.
The start was the third in a row for Johnson, the back-up to top netminder Jose Theodore, who has been struggling. "Brent is really playing well," the Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He's playing every game like it's his last. He's playing great and we love it." First-period goals by Brooks Laich and Tom Poti helped Washington to a 2-0 lead. Aaron Voros's powerplay score for New York in the third period trimmed the margin to 2-1.
The Rangers, the top team in the Eastern Conference, had a chance to tie it three minutes later when Chris Drury was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked by the Capitals' Alex Ovechkin, whose goalless streak reached a career-high nine games. But Johnson poked the puck away before Drury could get off a shot. "He came in so close, and I was able to get my stick on it," Johnson said. The Rangers coach Tom Renney had thought Drury would shoot before Johnson made his move.
"It was a good play by Johnson," Renney said. "It was an intelligent move for him and a smart goaltending play." The Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves, recovering from the two first-period goals. "We never gave up," Lundqvist said. "We felt like we had a chance in the third period." But Drury's miss and Alexander Semin's empty-netter for Washington with six seconds remaining ended that possibility.