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Johnson quiets Bruins offence, leads Capitals to 3-1 victory

NHL.com @NHL

WASHINGTON - Capitals goalie Brent Johnson shut down the Eastern Conference's top offence, and Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexandre Giroux scored, leading Washington to a 3-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.

Boston, which has the most goals and the best record in the East, had won five consecutive games and 14 of 16.

The Southeast Division-leading Capitals improved to 11-1-1 at home, thanks in large part to Johnson. The only goal he allowed came with 35 seconds left in the second period, when Phil Kessel beat a Capitals defenceman to a loose puck along the boards and quickly passed it to a wide-open Milan Lucic.

By then, though, Backstrom and Giroux had given the Capitals a 2-0 lead. Ovechkin, the NHL's reigning MVP, added an empty-netter in the final minute for his 15th goal.

Backstrom and Alexander Semin assisted on Ovechkin's goal.

Semin was one of two key players who returned for the injury-depleted Capitals, who have been relying on a slew of players called up from AHL affiliate Hershey, including Giroux.

Semin hadn't played since Nov. 14, sidelined by an undisclosed upper-body injury. Before getting hurt, the Russian was leading the NHL in points.

While Semin had missed 12 games, defenceman Tom Poti was sidelined for six before getting back on the ice Wednesday. Poti assisted on Giroux's goal.

Washington took the lead on a power-play goal less than four minutes into the game, when Backstrom redirected Ovechkin's slap shot from the point past goalie Manny Fernandez.

Backstrom's ninth goal of the season - all in the past 15 games - ended Fernandez's shutout streak at 87 minutes, 28 seconds. Fernandez had won his previous seven starts.

The Capitals made it 2-0 on Giroux's first goal since the 2006-07 season, which came off a rebound with 15:08 left in the second period. Giroux wasted a chance to add to the advantage less than 1 1/2 minutes into the third period, missing a penalty shot.

Johnson, who earned his third consecutive victory, appeared to get hurt early, but he finished with 33 saves.

After stopping a drive by Patrice Bergeron in the first period, Johnson dove to his left to make a spectacular glove save on Chuck Kobasew's attempt to poke in the rebound. Johnson stayed down on the ice for a bit and was examined by a team trainer but remained in the game.

About a minute after Giroux's goal, Johnson drew a raucous roar by dropping down to his left and using his stick to block a 1-on-1 opportunity for Blake Wheeler.

Notes: Kessel extended his point streak to a league-best 13 games. ... Capitals C Viktor Kozlov had two assists. ... Capitals LW Oskar Osala made his NHL debut after being recalled from Hershey. Washington sent Keith Aucoin and Bryan Helmer back to the AHL.

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