Capitals 3, Bruins 1

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

The only goal Johnson allowed came with 35 seconds left in the second period, when Phil Kessel beat a Capitals defenseman 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 - he had not played since Nov. 14.

Boston 0 1 0 – 1

Washington 1 1 1 – 3

First period: 1, Washington, Backstrom 9 (Ovechkin, Kozlov), 3:53 (pp). Penalties: Morrisonn, Was (high-sticking), :41; Yelle, Bos (interference), 2:17; Nokelainen, Bos (goaltender interference), 13:01; Ovechkin, Was (hooking), 13:24.

Second period: 2, Washington, Giroux 1 (Kozlov, Poti), 4:52. 3, Boston, Lucic 8 (Kessel, Chara), 19:25. Penalties: None.

Third period: 4, Washington, Ovechkin 15 (Semin, Backstrom), 19:08 (en). Penalties: Collins, Was (hooking), 5:14.

Missed Penalty Shot: Giroux, Was, 1:22 third.

Shots on Goal: Boston 14-10-10–34. Washington 6-9-11–26.

Power-play opportunities: Boston 0 of 3; Washington 1 of 2.

Goalies: Boston, Fernandez 8-2-1 (25 shots-23 saves). Washington, Johnson 8-4-2 (34-33).

Referees: Gord Dwyer, Kerry Fraser. Linesmen: Mark Pare, Dan Schachte.

Attendance: 17,697 (18,277). Time: 2:26.

Rangers 3, Thrashers 2

ATLANTA - Scott Gomez scored 15 seconds into overtime as New York snapped a two-game losing streak with a victory over struggling Atlanta.

Gomez took advantage of goaltender Johan Hedberg's mishandling of the puck, and put in a backhander for his third game-winner this season and his fifth tally overall.

The Thrashers have lost five straight at home and have just two wins in 11 games.

Despite eight victories in their last 13, the Rangers have just one win in regulation.

N.Y. Rangers 0 1 1 1 – 3

Atlanta 0 1 1 0 – 2

First period: None. Penalties: Dubinsky, NYR (charging), 1:36.

Second period: 1, N.Y. Rangers, Orr 1 (Voros, Redden), 2:37. 2, Atlanta, Crabb 1 (Oystrick), 6:05. Penalties: Korpikoski, NYR (boarding), 3:05; Gomez, NYR, double minor (roughing), 10:52; Kovalchuk, Atl, double minor (roughing), 10:52; Exelby, Atl (roughing), 10:52; Gomez, NYR (slashing), 17:15; Kovalchuk, Atl (slashing), 17:15; Drury, NYR (slashing), 19:24.

Third period: 3, N.Y. Rangers, Callahan 7 (Dubinsky, Redden), 1:20 (sh). 4, Atlanta, Kovalchuk 10 (Valabik, Thorburn), 2:49. Penalties: Dubinsky, NYR (high-sticking), 12:49.

Overtime period: 5, N.Y. Rangers, Gomez 5 (Naslund, Redden), :18. Penalties: None.

Shots on Goal: N.Y. Rangers 11-13-8-1–33. Atlanta 9-12-8-0–29.

Power-play opportunities: N.Y. Rangers 0 of 1; Atlanta 0 of 4.

Goalies: N.Y. Rangers, Valiquette 3-2-0 (29 shots-27 saves). Atlanta, Hedberg 5-4-2 (33-30).

Referees: Justin St. Pierre, Brad Watson. Linesmen: Steve Barton, Anthony Sericolo.

Attendance: 13,704 (18,545). Time: 2:26.

Devils 4, Penguins 1

NEWARK, N.J. - Scott Clemmensen made 26 saves, Travis Zajac scored the first goal, and New Jersey kept rolling with a win over Pittsburgh.

Zajac, Zach Parise, Dainius Zubrus and Patrik Elias provided the scoring for the Devils, who won for the eighth time in nine games.

Matt Cooke scored for Pittsburgh, ending Clemmensen's shutout bid with 3 minutes, 58 seconds remaining.

Pittsburgh 0 0 1 – 1

New Jersey 0 1 3 – 4

First period: None. Penalties: Talbot, Pit (roughing), 3:52; Clarkson, NJ (roughing), 3:52; Talbot, Pit (roughing), 16:27; Holik, NJ (roughing), 16:27; Leach, NJ (roughing), 16:27; Eaton, Pit (delay of game), 19:42.

Second period: 1, New Jersey, Zajac 5 (Langenbrunner, White), 17:39. Penalties: Holik, NJ (roughing), 9:20; Wallace, Pit (tripping), 12:36; Clemmensen, NJ, served by Zubrus (delay of game), 16:54; Fedotenko, Pit (high-sticking), 17:17.

Third period: 2, New Jersey, Parise 16 (Salvador, Langenbrunner), 2:18. 3, New Jersey, Zubrus 7 (Gionta, Salvador), 10:12. 4, Pittsburgh, Cooke 3 (Malkin, Fedotenko), 16:02. 5, New Jersey, Elias 11 (White), 19:19 (en). Penalties: Crosby, Pit, served by Sykora (holding, roughing), 13:05; Gionta, NJ (roughing), 13:05.

Shots on goal: Pittsburgh 10-7-10–27. New Jersey 10-12-10–32.

Power-play opportunities: Pittsburgh 0 of 3; New Jersey 0 of 4.

Goalies: Pittsburgh, Sabourin 6-5-2 (31 shots-28 saves). New Jersey, Clemmensen 7-3-0 (27-26).

Referees: Chris Lee, Bill McCreary. Linesmen: Michel Cormier, Mark Shewchyk.

Attendance: 16,808 (17,625). Time: 2:28.

Sabres 4, Lightning 2

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Thomas Vanek scored twice, including his league-leading 22d goal, in Buffalo's comeback win over Tampa Bay.

Vanek snapped a 2-2 second-period tie with his second goal of the game on the power play, sending the Sabres to victory in front of a crowd that included former President Bill Clinton, a guest of Sabres owner B. Thomas Golisano's.

Tampa Bay 2 0 0 – 2

Buffalo 1 2 1 – 4

First period: 1, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 8 (Stamkos), 10:21. 2, Tampa Bay, Recchi 7 (Ranger, Szczechura), 16:18. 3, Buffalo, Stafford 5 (Spacek, Pominville), 19:22 (pp). Penalties: Konopka, TB (interference), 14:51; Buffalo bench, served by Gerbe (too many men), 16:13; Artyukhin, TB (roughing), 18:18; Craig, TB, served by Downie (roughing, delay of game, fighting), 18:18; Paille, Buf (roughing), 18:18; Gaustad, Buf, major (fighting), 18:18.

Second period: 4, Buffalo, Vanek 21 (Kotalik), 11:52. 5, Buffalo, Vanek 22 (Roy, Pominville), 19:45 (pp). Penalties: Konopka, TB, major (fighting), 3:52; Mair, Buf, major (fighting), 3:52; Afinogenov, Buf (tripping), 8:13; Artyukhin, TB (roughing), 18:59.

Third period: 6, Buffalo, Pominville 9 (Hecht), 19:47 (en-sh). Penalties: Miller, Buf, served by Afinogenov (delay of game), 4:57; Tampa Bay bench, served by Smolenak (too many men), 7:09; Malik, TB (holding), 17:07; Kotalik, Buf (boarding), 19:15.

Shots on Goal: Tampa Bay 10-7-11–28. Buffalo 10-16-11–37.

Power-play opportunities: Tampa Bay 0 of 4; Buffalo 2 of 6.

Goalies: Tampa Bay, Smith 5-10-7 (36 shots-33 saves). Buffalo, Miller 13-7-2 (28-26).

Referees: Mike Hasenfratz, Dan O'Halloran. Linesmen: David Brisebois, Greg Devorski.

Attendance: 18,431 (18,690). Time: 2:36.

Blackhawks 2, Senators

CHICAGO - Cristobal Huet stopped 23 shots to earn his first shutout with Chicago and Patrick Kane scored an early goal as the Blackhawks beat Ottawa.

The Senators, who were 4-1-3 in their previous eight games, entered tied with Tampa Bay for the fewest goals in the NHL. They had a 5-on-3 advantage for 64 seconds in the opening period, but managed only one shot and finished the game 0-for-6 on the power play.

The Blackhawks had their 14th straight home sellout, two more than all of last season.

Ottawa 0 0 0 – 0

Chicago 1 0 1 – 2

First period: 1, Chicago, Kane 13 (Sharp), 5:17 (pp). Penalties: Ruutu, Ott (roughing), 3:31; Kane, Chi (high-sticking), 11:24; Keith, Chi (delay of game), 12:20; Fisher, Ott (holding stick), 15:20.

Second period: None. Penalties: Kane, Chi (high-sticking), 2:26; Neil, Ott, major (fighting), 4:39; Brouwer, Chi, major (fighting), 4:39; J.Smith, Ott (holding), 8:18; Kane, Chi, double minor (high-sticking), 13:58.

Third period: 2, Chicago, Brouwer 3, 19:19 (en). Penalties: Picard, Ott (hooking), :40; Volchenkov, Ott (delay of game), 2:50; Walker, Chi (tripping), 6:26; Neil, Ott (high-sticking), 11:10.

Shots on Goal: Ottawa 9-7-7–23. Chicago 12-7-11–30.

Power-play opportunities: Ottawa 0 of 6; Chicago 1 of 6.

Goalies: Ottawa, Gerber 1-5-1 (29 shots-28 saves). Chicago, Huet 6-5-3 (23-23).

Referees: Greg Kimmerly, Brad Meier. Linesmen: Ryan Galloway, Scott Cherrey.

Attendance: 21,614 (20,500). Time: 2:16.

Red Wings 4, Flames 3

DETROIT - Nicklas Lidstrom scored 3 minutes, 50 seconds into overtime to complete Detroit's comeback from a two-goal deficit against Calgary.

Brian Rafalski had a goal and an assist, and Valtteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg also scored for Detroit. Johan Franzen added two assists, and Ty Conklin made 29 saves.

Calgary's Curtis McElhinney stopped 35 shots.

Calgary 2 0 1 0 – 3

Detroit 0 1 2 1 – 4

First period: 1, Calgary, Conroy 4 (Cammalleri, Phaneuf), 15:03. 2, Calgary, Langkow 7 (Bertuzzi, Moss), 19:09. Penalties: Lebda, Det (hooking), 4:07; Aucoin, Cal (delay of game), 16:07.

Second period: 3, Detroit, Filppula 4 (Draper, Cleary), 6:59. Penalties: Moss, Cal (holding), 4:29; McElhinney, Cal, served by Bertuzzi (delay of game), 10:26; Kronwall, Det (interference), 12:36; Holmstrom, Det (hooking), 17:03; Aucoin, Cal (holding), 18:22.

Third period: 4, Calgary, Moss 9 (Phaneuf, Aucoin), 8:51 (pp). 5, Detroit, Zetterberg 13 (Cleary, Rafalski), 9:51. 6, Detroit, Rafalski 4 (Holmstrom, Franzen), 13:43. Penalties: Lombardi, Cal (delay of game), 6:21; Franzen, Det (goaltender interference), 7:11; Lilja, Det (hooking), 15:01.

Overtime: 7, Detroit, Lidstrom 4 (Franzen, Datsyuk), 3:50. Penalties: None.

Shots on Goal: Calgary 14-9-9-0–32. Detroit 10-13-13-3–39.

Power-play opportunities: Calgary 1 of 5; Detroit 0 of 5.

Goalies: Calgary, McElhinney 0-1-1 (39 shots-35 saves). Detroit, Conklin 8-3-0 (32-29).

Referees: Rob Martell, Tom Kowal. Linesmen: Steve Miller, Jonny Murray.

Attendance: 19,335 (20,066). Time: 2:35.

Coyotes 5, Stars 3

DALLAS - Martin Hanzal scored twice, including the third-period tiebreaking goal, and Phoenix beat Dallas just a few hours after Stars officials met to discuss what to do with Sean Avery.

No decisions were announced on Avery. The feisty forward was suspended by the NHL for a distasteful remark about ex-girlfriends made Dec. 2, and has been written off by his teammates and coach.

Phoenix 2 1 2 – 5

Dallas 2 1 0 – 3

First period: 1, Dallas, Daley 3 (Petersen, Conner), 4:34. 2, Phoenix, Hanzal 7 (Tikhonov, Michalek), 7:19. 3, Phoenix, Jokinen 8 (Jovanovski, Morris), 9:49 (pp). 4, Dallas, Neal 7 (Robidas, Modano), 10:58 (pp). Penalties: Michalek, Pho (delay of game), 2:04; Sydor, Dal (delay of game), 4:50; Richards, Dal (holding stick), 8:10; Boedker, Pho (holding), 10:26; Tikhonov, Pho (hooking), 12:27; Hutchinson, Dal (delay of game), 15:55; Lisin, Pho (cross-checking), 17:20; Morris, Pho (cross-checking), 18:37.

Second period: 5, Dallas, Brunnstrom 8 (Conner, Sydor), 8:35. 6, Phoenix, Jokinen 9 (Mueller, Turris), 19:56 (pp). Penalties: Lisin, Pho (hooking), 3:13; Modano, Dal (high-sticking), 13:26; Carcillo, Pho (goaltender interference), 16:30; Daley, Dal (slashing), 18:38.

Third period: 7, Phoenix, Hanzal 8, 5:21. 8, Phoenix, Reinprecht 6 (Doan, Bryzgalov), 19:36 (en). Penalties: Niskanen, Dal (tripping), 11:39.

Shots on Goal: Phoenix 7-12-15–34. Dallas 12-8-12–32.

Power-play opportunities: Phoenix 2 of 6; Dallas 1 of 7.

Goalies: Phoenix, Bryzgalov 9-11-1 (32 shots-29 saves). Dallas, Turco 9-12-4 (33-29).

Referees: Steve Kozari, Don Van Massenhoven. Linesmen: Brad Kovachik, Thor Nelson.

Attendance: 16,374 (18,532). Time: 2:27.