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Caps end Bruins' streak at five

by Brian Compton /
The Washington Capitals went toe-to-toe with one of the hottest teams in the NHL on Wednesday night and put an end to the Boston Bruins' winning ways.

Brent Johnson made 33 saves, while Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom each had a goal and an assist as the Caps ended Boston's five-game winning streak with a 3-1 victory at the Verizon Center. The Bruins had won 14 of their last 16 games.

''Pretty outstanding,'' Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said of Johnson's performance. ''You need that kind of goaltending to win. And when we needed him, he was there.''

Johnson certainly stole the show as he made one sensational save after another to keep his team in front. In the second period, he dropped down to his left and whipped his stick to block a 1-on-1 opportunity for Bruins forward Blake Wheeler.

''Extraordinary,'' Wheeler said. ''He's pulling some saves out of thin air.''

Earlier in the game, Johnson landed on his sore left hip while blocking a rebound attempt by Chuck Kobasew, which came just moments after an initial stop on Patrice Bergeron's blast. The Caps' goalie stayed down for a bit and was examined by a team trainer before continuing to play.

''The only thing that's going to heal it is a little time off,'' Johnson said, ''and obviously we're not going to have that.''

Johnson has won his past three starts to improve to 8-4-2 with a 2.47 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. His recent play may have sparked a goaltending controversy in Washington. Jose Theodore, the 2002 Hart Trophy winner, joined the Capitals on a $9 million, two-year deal last offseason. He is 8-6-1 with a 3.08 GAA and an .888 save percentage.

Despite Johnson's recent play, he's not about to demand more playing time from Boudreau.

''I feel that I'm going to play whenever Coach tells me to play," Johnson said. "That's it.''   

Boudreau was not interested in discussing a goalie controversy. That being said, it's hard to dismiss Johnson's recent play.

"You want to start a goaltending controversy -- is that what you want? Theo will get his chance to get in again. I mean, I don't have a controversy by any stretch, but, you know, you want to ride the hot hand. Johnnie's hot right now," Boudreau said.

Boudreau is giving Johnson a well-deserved day off on Thursday, which has prompted the injury-depleted Caps to ask one their Web site producers to bring his goalie pads to practice.

Backstrom scored the lone goal of the first period. With Stephane Yelle in the penalty box, Backstrom took a pass from Ovechkin and beat Boston's Manny Fernandez at 3:53 for his ninth goal in 15 games.

Alexandre Giroux then put the Caps up by a pair with his first goal since the 2006-07 season. The 6-foot-3 forward was able to grab Viktor Kozlov's rebound and poke it past Fernandez at 4:52 of the second period to make it 2-0.

Fernandez entered the game with a 2-0-1 career record, a 1.27 GAA and a .951 save percentage against Washington.

''We were just missing that extra push,'' said Fernandez, who won his previous seven starts. ''Give credit to Johnson. He played terrific tonight.''

Milan Lucic got the Bruins within striking distance with 35 seconds remaining in the second period on an even-strength tally. Phil Kessel got the primary assist to extend his point streak to a League-high 13 games.

But Johnson stopped all 10 shots he faced in the third period, and Ovechkin iced the victory with an empty-net goal at 19:08. It was his 15th tally of the season.

''We're going to call it 'missed opportunities,''' Bruins coach Claude Julien said.

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.

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