WASHINGTON (AP) _ Andrei Nikolishin scored the winning goal with his nose, boosting Washington's bid for home-ice advantage in the playoffs as the Capitals beat the New York Rangers 3-1 Tuesday.

With the score tied 1-1 in the third period, New York goalie Dan Cloutier's kick save sent the puck flush into Nikolishin's face. It then ricocheted off Geoff Smith's glove and into the net for Nikolishin's sixth goal of the season with 11:07 left to play.

Peter Bondra, back after missing two games with a bruised knee, scored his 49th goal of the season and Joe Juneau also netted for the Capitals, who extended their home unbeaten streak to 10 games.

The victory moved the Caps into a points tie with Buffalo for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Boston. The top four teams get home ice in the first round of the playoffs.

Niklas Sundstrom scored in the first period for the Rangers, who have lost 10 of 12.

The Capitals outshot the Rangers 32-17, including 17-6 in the second period, but it was the consecutive power play goals by Nikolishin and Juneau, set up by a double minor penalty on Jeff Finley, that secured the win. Finley was sent off for high-sticking Bondra in the mouth with 12:40 to play.

In the first period, Bondra scored on a 2-on-1 break sprung by Nikolishin, who jabbed the puck ahead to Steve Konowalchuk along the boards. The goal came at 12:47 and tied the score 1-1.

The Rangers scored first on Sundstrom's shot from the left circle at 4:02. He was assisted by the unlikely duo of Marc Savard and Eric Cairns, both of whom were playing in the minors last month.

Wayne Gretzky nearly made it 2-0 six minutes later after a great steal in the defensive end give him a breakaway. Gretzky outmaneuvered goalie Olaf Kolzig, but the shot hit the crossbar.