- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 2, 2006

The Washington Capitals didn’t need anybody to tell them this, but if they stay out of the penalty box and kill most of the penalties they do get, they’ll usually win.

Backup goalie Brent Johnson turned aside all 46 Ottawa shots he faced and center Dainius Zubrus scored the game’s only goal as Washington knocked off the Senators 1-0 last night in Ottawa.

It was Johnson’s second straight sensational performance. Last Wednesday he rejected 49 of 50 shots in a 5-1 win over Carolina. The Caps’ last shutout was in Chicago in Feb. 15, 2004, with Olie Kolzig in net.

Zubrus scored on a power play 19:07 into the second period. Alex Ovechkin sent a long slap shot that goalie Ray Emery turned aside but Zubrus was there to backhand the rebound into the cage. It was his 18th goal of the season, a career high.

Ovechkin’s assist moved him into a tie for seventh place on the all-time rookie points list with 95, matching Bryan Trottier of the New York Islanders (1975-76). Ovechkin’s 95th point also ties him with Bobby Carpenter (1984-85) for fourth place on the Caps’ all-time single-season points list.

It also gave him points in eight straight games, matching his career high, producing five goals and 13 points.

“We have nine games more, we have to try to win five or six,” Ovechkin said. “We don’t have any pressure right now and we’re enjoying ourselves.”

Washington last night killed all four Ottawa power plays and has killed all but three of the last 28 power plays it has faced, a kill rate of 89.3. Not coincidentally, the Caps have won three of those four games and lost the fourth in overtime.

It was old fashioned hockey from the start — plenty of action up and down the ice with few stoppages and little reason to halt play. Both teams had 16 shots in the opening period that also had only one penalty, a hooking infraction against Ottawa’s Vaclav Varada at 12:30.

There was one brief stoppage 6:32 into the first when Johnson was run over in the crease and was down momentarily. It was just the first of several close encounters throughout the game, all of which he survived.

Johnson kept getting back up and bouncing back. He will be a restricted free agent in July and would like to stay where he is. He has developed a friendship with Kolzig and is also close to goalie coach Dave Prior. But the club has made no commitment for next season.

“It’s definitely nice and I definitely wanted to be like this from the start of the year,” he said. “Playing a little bit more is helping and I just want to come in here and play my best when they need me.”

Johnson stopped all 14 shots he faced in the second and also had his two closest calls up to that point. At 4:39 Jason Spezza rocked a shot off the right post and five minutes later Daniel Alfredsson did the same thing to the left post.

“Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the other guy,” Emery said. “He was spectacular. We were battling and it was tied most of the game, but special teams will bite you sometimes. We battled hard in the third period but couldn’t beat him.”

The Caps path was made much easier with half the Senators’ starting six defensemen missing because of injury or for personal reasons. Chris Phillips, Wade Redden and 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara were not dressed and having Chara out was pleasant news for Ovechkin. The rookie considers the Czech player the best defenseman in the NHL today and especially tough on him.

Notes — The Senators were 3-0 against Washington going into the game and 7-0-1 in their last eight versus the Caps. … The Caps yesterday announced the signing of two free agent collegians, both Alberta natives. Jamie Hunt, 21, is a defenseman who just finished his junior season at Mercyhurst College; Matt Stefanishion, 22, is a forward who just finished his sophomore season at Ferris State. … Ottawa general manager John Muckler was forced to address the media yesterday on the subject of goalie Dominik Hasek, injured Feb.15 during the Olympics. Muckler said it was “totally untrue” the goalie was done for the season. They have a pretty good backup in Emery, who was on a 12-2-2 streak with two shutouts before last night’s game. … The Caps fly to Raleigh today for the first of three in a row against Carolina tomorrow night.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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