Rick Tabaracci was perfect for the Washington Capitals. He had to be.
Given only one goal to work with, Tabaracci made it stand up with 29 saves as the Capitals beat the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 Saturday night in a meeting of playoff-chasing teams.
"In some senses, because I haven't played much, the number of shots I got kept me on my toes," said Tabaracci, who won his second successive start after not starting since Dec. 30.
"Obviously, I would like to play more but I just have to go in when I get the call and prepare properly. This was a great chance for me to get into a game and do well."
James Black scored the game's only goal midway through the first period, with Washington short-handed.
Black pounced on a rebound of a shot by Andrei Nikolishin and beat Jeff Hackett with a hard slap shot from the high slot. Black has 12 goals this season, matching his career high with Chicago in 1996-97.
"I saw Andrei coming in and I was yelling at him `Shoot the puck,' " Black said. "All of a sudden, Hackett kind of let it out in the slot and I walked into it and said what the heck, go for it. It was bouncing and I think I was a little fortunate."
Hackett, making his 14th consecutive start, made 20 saves as the Canadiens had their three-game winning streak snapped
Tabaracci was rarely tested in the first period, but had to be sharp in the final two during which the Capitals were outshot 25-12.
Two of his best stops came late in the second. He made a blocker save on Benoit Brunet's high shot from the slot. With less than 30 seconds left in the period, Tabaracci stopped Martin Rucinsky on a 2-on-1.
In the third, Tabaracci frustrated Sergei Zholtok from the left circle on a Montreal power play.
The Canadiens went 0-for-4 on the power play after scoring three goals in their previous two games.
"They are a very aggressive team on the penlty kill," said Canadiens coach Alain Vigneault. "But we had our chances, especially in the third period."
"You just have to give Tabaracci credit. He was great."
Montreal dropped six points behind the Boston Bruins for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Washington moved seven points behind Boston and host the Bruins on Sunday.
"We've won two big games in a row and we have to continue it against Boston," said Tabaracci.
Montreal plays San Jose on Monday before starting a three-game road trip.
"It's a tough loss," said Canadiens defenseman Stephane Quintal. "We should be winning our games and scoring around two or three per game. We have to regroup."
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