Caps' power play clicks in 5-2 win

Jagr is hurt

Star injures knee early in victory over Rangers

October 11, 2001|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - It took four power-play goals and a timely even-strength goal by Ulf Dahlen in the third period, but the Washington Capitals were able to earn their second victory of the season last night, pulling away from the New York Rangers, 5-2.

The Capitals' power-play unit is supposed to be one of the team's real strengths this season, but until last night the Caps seemed more interested in putting oppos ing teams on the power play.

In their first two games, they'd operated a man down 14 times.

But last night, the Rangers were even more generous than Washington, giving the Caps five power plays in the first period and taking a five-minute major penalty in the third to assure the Capitals' victory.

The bad news for the Capitals was that superstar Jaromir Jagr apparently twisted his knee as he was being taken down in the opening period and did not return.

Washington (2-1) will begin a three-game West Coast swing before returning to MCI Center on Oct. 19 for a game against Montreal.

After forging a three-goal lead on power-play goals by Sergei Gonchar (two) and Sylvan Cote in the first period against rookie goalie Dan Blackburn, Dahlen slowed the Rangers' comeback hopes 3:56 into the third period when an official re view of his stick work at the left post revealed the puck had, indeed, got ten past Blackburn for a 4-2 Washington lead.

When Peter Bondra scored an other power-play goal minutes later, the crowd of 17,340 began to head for the exits.

The Capitals had their legs under them from the beginning and scored their first goal 5:12 into the opening period after Bondra gathered in the puck in the neutral zone and sprinted hard into the Rangers' zone.

He crossed the line and handed off to Jagr, who slid the puck to Gonchar, who scored his second goal of the season by beating Blackburn, who, at 18 years and 143 days old, was starting his first NHL game and, before the first pe riod was over, he would make several terrific saves on shots by Bondra, Trevor Linden and Steve Konowalchuk.

The Rangers nearly answered the goal two minutes later when big center Eric Lindros hit the post.

Lindros, whose career has been threatened by a series of concussions, and who has been involved in a feud with Philadelphia Flyers general manager Bobby Clarke, was acquired by the Rangers last summer after they failed to work a deal for Jagr.

Washington was 3-for-5 on the power play in the first period as Gonchar scored the team's second power-play goal at 10:53, and de fenseman Cote made it 3-0 at 13:53.

But those long shots through screens were all that got past Blackburn as he faced 17 shots in the period. At the Caps' end, goalie Olie Kolzig made three saves as he rested for what was to come.

New York's Igor Ulanov, encour aged by his coach to play "in-your- face' hockey against Jagr, did just that late in the period. Shortly after Cote scored, he took down Jagr.

Jagr, who had two assists by then, appeared to land badly on his knee. He did not return and a spokesman said he was being held out for precautionary reasons.

The reinvigorated Rangers scored their first goal 41 seconds into the second period on a goal by Zdeno Ciger.

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