LANDOVER -- Jim Carey didn't want to sound smug last night after he did the job again in the net for the Washington Capitals.
But the rookie goaltender couldn't help being honest about his situation.
"They came to me in September and wanted me to sign," he said of the Capitals. "I love school and was all set to go back to Wisconsin for my junior year. But they came up with the right money [$325,000 signing bonus] and now I'm here."
Thank goodness for Jim Carey.
That is what Washington coach Jim Schoenfeld and the Capitals players were saying after Carey made 28 saves to lead Washington to a 5-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens before 16,210 at USAir Arena.
First, he beat the New York Islanders, 4-3, Thursday night to give Washington its first road win of the season, and then he really turned it on last night.
Those two wins represent the first time this season the Capitals (5-10-5) have won two in a row.
Michal Pivonka had two goals. Dale Hunter, Keith Jones and Peter Bondra scored one each for goal for Washington.
"He [Carey] has a calming effect on us," said Schoenfeld. "He's certainly finding a zone of comfort here for us. He knows when to freeze the puck, and he's making key saves at critical points of the game. When things are on the line, he's coming up with the big play for us."
Carey said he's a little surprised by the way Washington has responded to his presence.
"I don't know what it is, but they seem to feed off me," he said. "I'm not here to be the savior. I'm just jumping in and giving it my best shot."
There is a strong sense of confidence about Carey that has allowed the veterans to rally around him.
The rookie doesn't seem to know fear or panic.
"Hey, I'm not going to get all too excited about this," he said. "I know how things in this game go. You can be hot for a couple of days or weeks and then suddenly you can find yourself out of a job. I could be in the East Coast League in a couple of weeks."
It is that kind of attitude that seems to lessen a lot of pressure around everybody on the team.
Last night, Carey made 14 saves in a spectacular second period that featured him sprawling across the ice time after time to make one unbelievable save after another.
At times, it appeared that Carey made saves with almost every part of his body to hold off the frustrated Canadiens, who lost their fourth straight game.
"With Carey making all those saves, our defense isn't under the gun so much," said Schoenfeld. "They know if they make a mistake,he is there to cover up for it. I'm not saying teams were just crushing through our defense before, but Carey frees our guys up to gamble a little more."
The Washington offense looked as good as it has all season, with Pivonka getting two goals and one assist to pace the offense.
"Michal is making things happen now and that's what we want," said Schoenfeld.
NOTE: Washington C/LW Dave Poulin will be out two weeks with a pulled groin muscle.