Caps' streaking offense quiet in 4-1 defeat to Maple Leafs

14-game points run ends

Zubrus leaves with injury

Hockey

January 18, 2003|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Here were the Washington Capitals on one of the hottest streaks in team history, and here were the Toronto Maple Leafs, playing without their starting goalie, Ed Belfour, and their leading goal scorer, Alexander Mogilny, and what happens?

The Caps make goalie Trevor Kidd (24 saves) and center Darcy Tucker (two goals) look like All-Stars. The result was that the Maple Leafs handed Washington its first loss in regulation in 15 games, 4-1, last night.

It was the Caps' first regulation loss since Dec. 16 and first at home since Nov. 29.

The Maple Leafs also shut out high-flying Jaromir Jagr, who had 12 points in his previous three games, and left goalie Olie Kolzig (19 saves) still searching for his 200th career victory.

"It's like I said before," said Capitals coach Bruce Cassidy. "I think when you're on a winning streak, your game starts to slide. ... But give them credit. They got pucks to the net and their goaltender did a good job. But a couple breaks and we would have been back in it."

Washington's consecutive-game point-scoring streak (8-0-3-3) was stopped one game short of breaking the franchise record. Perhaps fittingly, the team's run of allowing three goals or fewer also was stopped one game short of a franchise mark of 18 by an empty-net goal with 29.2 seconds left by Toronto captain Mats Sundin.

But the loss was costly in a more important way, too, as Dainius Zubrus, who netted Washington's only goal that made it 2-1 in the second period, will be on injured reserve for at least a week. Zubrus was knocked out of the game by a high shoulder hit by Toronto's Wade Belak.

Washington will try to begin new streaks tonight in Ottawa against the Northeast Division-leading Senators.

"It's going to be tough," said Jagr, who made play after play last night, but could neither score nor get rewarded for several beautiful set-up passes.

"Playing Ottawa, maybe it will make us play better."

Last night's game was hard-fought, but the Capitals, who had been finding the net with abandon over the past six weeks, had no luck. They could neither hold the puck long enough for a solid shot early nor shoot straight enough to score in the first period. Later, when their aim improved, they still made life fairly easy for Kidd. Nearly everything was shot at his body.

"But I don't think it was like the earlier part of our season," said team captain Steve Konowalchuk. "There were parts of this game we controlled. I think we just made two big mistakes and the puck got into the back of our net and that makes it look bad. We had some chances, we just missed the net."

NOTE: Caps defenseman Sergei Gonchar will join Jagr at the NHL All-Star Game. Gonchar (10 goals, 26 assists for 36 points and second in scoring among defensemen) has been added to the Eastern Conference team.

Toronto 2 0 2 - 4

Washington 0 1 0 - 1

First period - 1, Toronto, Tucker 7 (Corson, Green), 7:42. 2, Toronto, Tucker 8 (McCabe, Green), 18:53. Penalties - Klee, Was (hooking), 4:58; McCabe, Tor (interference), 8:57. Second period - 3, Washington, Zubris 7 (Lang, Witt), 9:00. Penalties - Doig, Was (interference), 3:13; Johansson, Was (holding stick), 11:42; Halpern, Was (interference), 18:18. Third period - 4, Toronto, McCabe 2 (Renberg, Sundin), 6:28. 5, Toronto, Sundin 20, 19:30 (en). Penalties - Jagr, Was (ob.-hooking), 2:46; Healey, Tor (diving), 2:46; Doig, Was (tripping), 5:14; Green, Tor (interference), 6:04; Lumme, Tor (holding), 8:53. Shots on goal - Toronto 7-7-9 - 23. Washington 11-7-7 - 25. Power-play opportunities - Toronto 0 of 5; Washington 0 of 3. Goalies - Toronto, Kidd 3-6-1 (25 shots-24 saves). Washington, Kolzig 17-13-3 (22-19). A - 18,245 (18,277). T - 2:17.

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