Capitals' 3-0 win comes at steep cost

Johansson will miss season with rotator cuff

Linden dealt to Canucks


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

WASHINGTON - The Washington Capitals got a jolt of adrenaline against an even more goal-starved team than them last night and shut out the Atlanta Thrashers, 3-0. It was Washington's and goalie Olie Kolzig's first shutout of the season. He made 34 saves as the Caps ended a six-game winless streak.

But with the good news for the Capitals came bad news as well. Veteran defenseman Calle Johansson will undergo shoulder surgery tomorrow to repair a severely torn right rotator cuff and will be out for the rest of the season.

"It's one of those things you can't anticipate," Caps general manager George McPhee said. "You just move on and hope other players come in and perform. These injuries take a long time to heal. It'll probably be six to eight months."

In another off-ice development, McPhee traded center Trevor Linden and a second-round draft choice to the Vancouver Canucks for a 2002 first-round pick and a 2003 third-round choice.

Linden is in the third year of a four-year contract that pays him $4 million this season and $4.5 million next year. He was acquired near the end of last season in an effort to beef up the Caps' offense, but has not produced the way Washington had hoped.

"In fact, Trevor's performance wasn't meeting our expectations or his," McPhee said. "We think that by sending him to Vancouver, where he grew up, he could jump-start his career."

McPhee also said, "Because of the way the team has been playing, we had to start making some changes. Now, we'll see how the club responds."

Linden, 31, scored just three goals after joining the team last season with 12 games left and did not score a goal in the playoffs. This season, the 6-foot-4 veteran, who prefers to play center, had been playing mostly on the wing and had one goal and two assists in 16 games.

As McPhee has continued to search for a goal-scoring forward or center to add to the team since acquiring All-Star Jaromir Jagr this summer, Linden and his big salary became exceedingly expendable, as Washington's goal production became almost nonexistent over the past six games.

"It could help our maneuverability," McPhee said. "We could use the draft choice in a deal this year ... and it's always nice to have room in our salary structure to do something.

"But, we have some young guys who have been playing well - Matt Pettinger, Chris Corrinet, Stephen Peat - we want to see how they develop. It's nice to have room to let the young kids show what they can do."

And with Johansson out, the Caps also will get a chance to look at their young defenseman.

"When they told me, I said, `Huh?' I thought it's stuff that happens to other players," said Johansson, when asked about his initial reaction. "You see people being out a long time and think it's not going to happen to you."

Last night, the Caps' opponent helped the home team gain some confidence. The Thrashers, a third-year franchise, are 3-10-1-2 and an emotional wreck.

At 5:39 of the first period, Washington's Jeff Halpern finished off a stirring pass from center Adam Oates to put the Caps up 1-0, and six seconds later, left wing Chris Simon hit a wicked slap shot for his first goal of the season for a 2-0 lead. Ulf Dahlen added a third goal at 5:33 of the second and when the dreaded third period came, Washington continued to attack.

The Caps improved to 6-9-2, to the delight of the 17,636 cheering at MCI Center, and coach Ron Wilson.

"It's excellent to get a win and get a couple guys off the schneid." Wilson said. "Jeff hadn't scored since the first game and Sy [Simon], this was his first goal all year."

Atlanta 0 0 0 - 0

Washington 2 1 0 - 3

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