LANDOVER -- Kelly Miller hadn't scored a goal in the past 11 games, and he was beginning to wonder when he would find the net again.
But he did -- twice -- against a top-flight goaltender, the Montreal Canadiens' Patrick Roy, as the Capitals defeated the Adams Division leaders, 4-3, last night at the Capital Centre.
Miller added two assists in the first four-point game of his career. The Capitals' win against the Canadiens and Roy, who entered the game with a 2.27 goals-against average, helped blunt the memory of Tuesday night's miserable performance, an 8-2 home loss to the Hartford Whalers.
The Whalers aren't in the same class as the Canadiens, but the less talented teams in the league have been giving Washington trouble all season.
"We're holding true to our pattern all season of coming back against a good team with a good game," said Capitals coach Terry Murray. "I don't want to talk that much about Tuesday night, but we needed an outstanding game tonight and we got it from 20 players."
Miller said the Capitals seem to raise their intensity level for the top teams.
"We wanted to beat Montreal," said Miller. "We can't finish first [in the Patrick Division], but second is OK as long as we finish the season strong."
The Capitals (43-26-7 for 93 points) have four games left and moved past the Canadiens (92 points) in the overall league standings.
That could give the Capitals the home-ice advantage if the teams meet in the playoffs.
Miller's second goal of the night came at 13:13 of the first period and gave Washington a 3-2 lead.
"It was a lucky goal and the kind I needed to get going after all the missed chances," said Miller. "It went off the skate of a Montreal player [Shayne Corson] and in the net. I'd had many better chances to score than that one over the past 11 games, but it never happened."
After Gilbert Dionne tied the game at 3 for Montreal with a goal at 12:37 of the second period, the Capitals got what proved to be the game winner from Dino Ciccarelli at 16:34 of the second period.
Ciccarelli scored from the left crease off a perfect pass from Miller to give the Capitals a 4-3 lead.
Both teams had several chances to score after that goal, but Washington goaltender Don Beaupre (27 saves) and Roy (41 saves) were almost the entire show the rest of the game.
Thanks to Miller, the Capitals got off to a quick 2-0 start and looked as if they might be ready to breeze past the Canadiens.
Miller set up the first goal of the night, as he skated into the slot and took a shot that was turned back by Roy. The puck rebounded to Ridley at the right crease, and he stuck it in the net for a 1-0 lead 35 seconds into the game.
Then it was all Miller on the second goal, which ran the Washington lead to 2-0 at 4:39 of the first period.
Miller spun away from Montreal's Sylvain Lefebvre and Kirk Muller near the blue line and skated in for a backhander.