WASHINGTON (AP) -- Peter Bondra wanted to help teammate Mike Grier, but time was running out on the Washington Capitals and they needed to win badly.
Taking no chances, Bondra camped out behind Montreal goalie Mathieu Garon and knocked in a loose puck with 53.8 seconds remaining to lift the Capitals to a 3-2 victory Tuesday night over the Montreal Canadiens.
"If I knew the puck was going to be there, I would have left it for Mike because he needs it more than I do," said Bondra, whose goal gave the Capitals their first win on their current five-game homestand. "It was a big goal for us."
Bondra also played a big role in helping Washington, 10-0 when leading after two periods, to stay in the game.
Washington's Joel Kwiatkowski was ejected for checking-from-behind at 3:49 of the third period, but Montreal was only able to capitalize for one goal during the stretch. Two minutes of the five-minute power play were wasted when Bondra raced toward the goal on a short-handed breakaway and drew a slashing penalty on Sheldon's Souray.
"Those are losses that can be avoided. It's points we desperately need, like anybody else," Montreal coach Claude Julien said. "We had an opportunity to come out with a point, and again in the last minute we squandered that."
When Montreal resumed its power play, Michael Ryder tied the game a second time when he batted a rebound out of the air at 8:24 of the third period.
On Sunday, Washington let a 3-1 lead slip away in a 5-4 loss to the Islanders. However, it was the Capitals' veteran leadership that made sure this one didn't get away as well.
Jaromir Jagr and Jeff Halpern also scored to give Washington 1-0 and 2-1 leads.
Jagr, playing his second straight game after missing two with a thumb injury, scored the first goal on Washington's first power play at 5:37 of the second period. He took the puck from Benoit Gratton and shot it high past Garon.
Halpern scored 4:56 into the third, just before Montreal went on the five-minute power play which led to Ryder's tying goal.
"I think the key to it is the resiliency of the hockey club, which at times earlier on -- for whatever reason -- we didn't seem to have," Washington coach Glen Hanlon said. "You can sense and feel it on the bench. When a goal goes in, it seems like the right people are saying the right things."
Former Capitals player Jan Bulis also scored for Montreal, which failed to win two in a row for the 11th time this season. The Canadiens haven't won back-to-back games since beating the Red Wings and Islanders on Oct. 20 and 23.
|PPG - Jaromir Jagr (13) ASST: Dainius Zubrus (12), Sergei Gonchar (30)|
1 - 0 WSH
|Jan Bulis (7) ASST: Saku Koivu (12), Francis Bouillon (4)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Jeff Halpern (4) ASST: Jaromir Jagr (23), Sergei Gonchar (31)|
2 - 1 WSH
|PPG - Michael Ryder (7) ASST: Francis Bouillon (5), Mike Ribeiro (20)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Peter Bondra (14) ASST: Michael Grier (7), Dwayne Zinger (1)|
3 - 2 WSH
|Jaromir Jagr Hooking against Saku Koivu|
|Peter Bondra Slashing|
|Pierre Dagenais Interference against Joel Kwiatkowski|
|Sheldon Souray Cross checking against Robert Lang|
|Dwayne Zinger Interference against Benoit Gratton|
|Jason Doig Tripping against Jan Bulis|
|Saku Koivu Roughing against Joel Kwiatkowski|
|Joel Kwiatkowski Checking from behind (maj) against Saku Koivu|
|Joel Kwiatkowski Game misconduct against Saku Koivu|
|Sheldon Souray Slashing against Peter Bondra|