Capitals unthaw, put wraps on Ducks, 4-1

Power play proves potent as Washington rebounds


November 18, 2001|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - From the beginning, this game looked different. The Washington Capitals were on the attack from the opening faceoff, scored first for only the sixth time in 20 games and beat the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, 4-1, last night.

The victory ended a two-game horror show for Washington. The Capitals had lost back-to-back games by a combined score of 16-5, and though the win came against the Ducks, a team that is on a six-game losing streak of its own, it was still a welcome occurrence at MCI Center, where 17,298 were in attendance.

"We had a good meeting before the game," said center Adam Oates, who was involved in every Capitals goal last night. "We saw a video with a message about sticking together, and our power play worked. It was a good game and a win we needed."

The Capitals played a solid, crisp game, and at 3:01 of the first period, Jaromir Jagr, who had slid up to the near post, was perfectly placed to complete a relay from Oates to Ulf Dahlen, who had worked into position in front of the net. The power-play goal gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead, a welcome if unfamiliar experience.

It was also Jagr's sixth goal, his first since returning from a knee injury three games ago, and, perhaps, the first night that everyone felt his presence.

"I still didn't feel like myself," Jagr said. "It is small steps, get the confidence back and get into shape. But every win like this helps us. No time for [beautiful] offensive plays. It's back to original play. Very simple. Don't try to do too much.

"The last two games were a disaster for the team and a disaster for me. I have never had a minus after my name and after those games, I was minus-8. It was a wakeup call for me. Go back to basics. Work harder. Get more wins."

That's what everyone did and it would, in fact, be a big night for all three of the Capitals involved in that first goal. Oates finished with a goal and three assists, Jagr a goal and an assist and Dahlen two assists.

Goalie Olie Kolzig made 29 saves, including seven during a five-on-three Anaheim power play that lasted 1:13.

"We definitely found our grinding type of game," Capitals coach Ron Wilson said. "We got the puck in deep, we got an early lead, our power play worked - though our five-on-three [0-for-2] could use some work - and our penalty kill was excellent. And Olie made great saves. I think that was the most important thing. Olie made a couple big saves on their five-on-three. It was important to his confidence and made a big difference."

Kolzig, who has given up a few soft goals, while also being the victim of many missed assignments by his teammates during a nine-game run in which Washington had won only once, thought the entire team needed this game.

"When you've only had one win in nine previous games, everyone's nerves are a little frayed," Kolzig said. "If one of those [pucks] go in, who knows how we'll respond. We all needed this."

Washington, 7-11-2, has now won twice in its past 10 games and has until Wednesday to get ready for three games in four days, beginning with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The New York Rangers come to town Friday, and then the Capitals fly to Montreal for a game Saturday with the Canadiens.

Last night, after the Capitals took the early 1-0 lead, they kept working hard along the boards and at 11:53, Oates freed up the puck and got rookie Matt Pettinger out on a two-on-one breakaway for his second goal of the season. His slap shot gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead, and it turned out to be the game-winner.

Anaheim 1 0 0 - 1

Washington 2 1 1 - 4

First period - 1, Washington, Jagr 6 (Dahlen, Oates), 3:01 (pp). 2, Washington, Pettinger 2 (Oates), 8:07. 3, Anaheim, Pahlsson 3 (Kariya), 8:38. Penalties - Tverdovsky, Ana (high-sticking), 2:11; Sawyer, Ana, major-misconduct (fighting), 3:30; Peat, Was, major (fighting), 3:30; Gonchar, Was (roughing), 3:41; Friesen, Ana (roughing), 3:41; Cote, Was (slashing), 8:35; Lambert, Ana (slashing), 8:35; Vishnevski, Ana (roughing), 11:24; York, Ana (holding), 13:06. Second period - 4, Washington, Oates 1 (Dahlen, Jagr), 15:14 (pp). Penalties - Sawyer, Ana, major (fighting), 2:54; Zettler, Was, major (fighting), 2:54; Leclerc, Ana (charging), 7:05; Vishnevski, Ana (roughing), 7:52; Nikolishin, Was (interference), 12:17; Trnka, Ana (holding stick), 14:57; Pettinger, Was (tripping), 15:46; Klee, Was (cross-checking), 16:32. Third period - 5, Washington, Simon 3 (Oates), 17:57 (en). Penalties - Zettler, Was (high-sticking), 5:09; Bondra, Was (roughing), 14:26; Vishnevski, Ana (roughing), 18:54; Whitfield, Was (roughing), 18:54; Nikolishin, Was (tripping), 19:05. Shots on goal - Anaheim 5-14-11-30. Washington 11-12-9-32. Power-play opportunities - Anaheim 0 of 6; Washington 2 of 6. Goalies - Anaheim, Giguere 4-5-1 (31 shots-28 saves). Washington, Kolzig 7-9-1 (30-29). A - 17,298 (18,672).

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