Caps get back on track, top Flames

Bondra scores twice

Gonchar goal wins it, 3-2

Hockey

March 07, 2002|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Peter Bondra had not scored a goal in a Month, and he wanted to be involved last night - but not as involved as he turned out to be.

Bondra scored twice and Sergei Gonchar netted the winning goal with 2:04 remaining to give the Washington Capitals a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames at MCI Center.

Though Bondra was happy with his two goals, he was made even happier with Gonchar's.

"I was involved in every goal but the last one," said Bondra, who made two mistakes that led directly to Calgary goals. "When Sergei scored, I was definitely happy. I was jumping on the bench. Probably, I hit my head on the ceiling, I was so happy."

The Capitals need every victory as they race toward the finish line of the regular season. And as coach Ron Wilson said, no easy games remain.

"This is like a NASCAR race," he said. "You want to get up and draft right under them, cause a little car wreck right in front of you, and you spin into the playoffs because of it."

The victory moved the Caps within three points of the last Eastern Conference playoff spot. Tomorrow night, Washington will be in Raleigh, N.C., to play the Southeast Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes.

Before last night, Calgary hadn't lost a game since the Olympic break, and the Flames are in the same situation as Washington. In fact, when they look at each other, it's like looking in a mirror.

Calgary is 11th in the Western Conference, five points out of the final playoff spot. Washington is 10th in the Eastern Conference, three points out of the final playoff spot.

Calgary is on a nine-game trip that probably will determine its fate, and the Caps are to leave on an eight-game trip next week that probably will determine theirs.

The similarity seemed carried to the extreme in the opening period.

The Caps' No. 12, Bondra, the NHL's leader in power-play goals, scored a man-advantage goal at 13:29, and the Flames' No. 12, Jarome Iginla, the league's overall goal-scoring leader, beat Bondra to tie the game a minute later at even strength.

Calgary goalie Roman Turek (17 saves) gave up the second goal 2:19 into the second period, as Chris Simon gave Bondra the puck behind the Calgary net, and he carried it to the side of the crease and shot. The puck scooted through a forest of legs and into the net for a 2-1 Caps lead.

Caps goalie Olie Kolzig (19 saves) came up big time and again in the third period, but at 14:30 of the second, he could do little as Clarke Wilm shrugged off Bondra and rolled in for a short-handed goal and a 2-2 tie.

The winning goal came after Dimitri Khristich applied a strong forecheck to win the puck along the boards in the Calgary zone. Steve Konowalchuk relayed it perfectly to Gonchar for a winning slap shot.

"That was a playoff game right there," said Caps defenseman Colin Forbes. "We had to play strong defense in that third period and wait for our chances. After the loss to Toronto [a 3-2 defeat after blowing a 2-0 lead], this will help to rebuild our confidence."

Calgary 1 1 0 - 2

Washington 1 1 1 - 3

First period - 1, Washington, Bondra 28 (Oates, Metropolit), 7:33 (pp). 2, Calgary, Iginla 40, 8:32. Penalty-Gauthier, Cal (high-sticking), 6:31.

Second period - 3, Washington, Bondra 29 (Simon, Kucera), 2:19. 4, Calgary, Wilm 4 (Iginla, Morris), 14:30 (sh). Penalties - Morris, Cal (roughing), 9:04; Begin, Cal (holding), 12:51; Lydman, Cal (high-sticking), 15:49.

Third period - 5, Washington, Gonchar 21 (Konowalchuk, Khristich), 17:56. Penalties - Niedermayer, Cal (boarding), 5:43; Jagr, Was (roughing), 19:08.

Shots on goal - Calgary 7-5-9-21. Washington 7-10-3-20. Power-play opportunities - Calgary 0 of 1; Washington 1 of 5. Goalies - Calgary, Turek 25-21-8 (20 shots-17 saves). Washington, Kolzig 22-25-6 (21-19). A - 15,817 (18,672).

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