Washington Capitals goalie Brent Johnson spent several minutes on the ice after doing a partial split to stop a follow-up shot from Chuck Kobasew after thwarting a breakaway by Patrice Bergeron. He aggravated his nagging hip injury on the play, and you can't blame Coach Bruce Boudreau if he was thinking the worst.
But the Washington goalie managed to get back to his skates and stay on, played perhaps his best game of the season, and carried the Capitals (16-10-3-35, first in Southeast) to a 3-1 victory over the Boston Bruins (19-5-4-42), leaders of the NHL's Northeast Division.
Johnson stood on his head several times during the game, but none more spectacularly than robbing Bruins rookie Blake Wheeler with a diving stick save. Wheeler made a nifty move to get to his backhand and tried to slide the puck under Johnson, which in reality gave Johnson the opportunity to get in front of it.
"He made a really, really good move," Johnson said. "I just got lucky there."
In truth, it was a highlight reel save on a night full of clutch saves for the long time backup. Johnson allowed just one goal on 34 shots. He is riding a three-game win streak with a .952 save percentage during the streak.
For the season, Johnson improved to 8-4-2 with a 2.47 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.
The Caps received goals from Niklas Backstrom (9), Alexandre Giroux (1) and an empty netter from Alex Ovechkin (15). Milan Lucic was the only Bruin to dent Johnson, netting his eighth in the second period after a defensive end give-away.
Backstom redirected a shot from the point from Ovechkin on the power play in the first period and Giroux's goal was his first NHL goal since the 2006-07 season.
The Caps were bolstered by the return to the lineup of defenseman Tom Poti and Alexander Semin. Poti had missed the previous six games with a groin strain and Semin the past 12 games with an upper back/neck injury. The team hopes to get D Mike Green back for the weekend games.
But for one night, this collection of Caps and Hershey Bears held the third highest scoring the team in the league to just one goal for a much needed and well-deserved home victory.
WAS: Backstrom (9) from Ovechkin and Kozlov (1-3:53-PP); Giroux (1) from Kozlov and Poti (2-4:52); Ovechkin (15) from Semin and Backstrom (3-19:08-EN)
BOS: Lucic (8) from Kessel and Chara (2-19:25)
1. B. Johnson - WAS (Saves: 33, Save Pct: .971)
2. A. Giroux - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
3. P. Kessel - BOS (Goals: 0, Assists: 1)
Washington is 11-1-1 at the Verizon Center this season.
Tomas Fleischmann missed the game with a "lower body" injury. The team recalled Oskar Osala for his NHL debut.
The loss is just Boston's second regulation loss in the last 17 games and first time the Bruins were held to one goal since an Oct. 28 1-0 win over Vancouver.