Lang, Caps get rare laugher in 7-1 rout of 'Canes

His first career hat trick sparks 4th win of season


November 13, 2003|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Can one win make a difference or be a sign? The Washington Capitals aren't saying so, but they're hoping that's the case after last night's well-played, 7-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

"As long as we don't get ahead of ourselves, it can make a difference," said Capitals goalie Olie Kolzig, who made 29 saves and missed a shutout by the length of Brendan's Witt skate, which caused a puck to ricochet past Kolzig's glove for the Hurricanes' only score of the night.

"The score was 7-1, but it's only one win. That's all. We should take a little confidence from it and build on it and not think we're better than we are."

The win was only the fourth in 16 games for Washington, but there were a number of things that occurred to give the Capitals encouragement.

Washington, 4-11-1, is still at the bottom of the NHL, but it finally got a win in this four-game homestand and has a chance to improve in the Southeast Division standings this weekend with back-to-back games against the Tampa Bay Lightning at MCI Center tomorrow and in a rematch in Carolina on Sunday.

Robert Lang, who has been Washington's most consistent forward, recorded the first hat trick of his career and gave the Capitals a rare early lead when he beat Carolina goalie Kevin Weekes (13 saves) 1:24 into the opening period.

It was that lead that Washington's penalty-killing unit was protecting when it foiled six consecutive minutes of Carolina power-play time in that opening period and set the tone for the rest of the game.

"We've had slow starts much of this season and not bounced back," Capitals coach Bruce Cassidy said. "We needed a lift, and tonight our penalty-killers gave us one. It energized us and got the fans behind us. And even though it is only one win, I'm going to get carried away about it for 24 hours. I've been talking about too many losses."

Lang's three goals and assist might have led the way but others joined in. Dainius Zubrus scored twice, once on the power play, Brian Willsie scored his first goal of the season and the eighth of his career, and rookie Alexander Semin scored his second goal of the season. Jaromir Jagr chipped in two assists, as did Peter Bondra.

"We started well from the first shift," Lang said. "Now, it's really important for us to calm down and play the same way in our next game. We've been close many times, but if we only play good hockey for 40-50 minutes it means nothing. We have to play 60 minutes. We did that tonight and it feels great."

Carolina 0 0 1 - 1

Washington 1 2 4 - 7

First period - 1, Washington, Lang 8 (Jagr, Witt), 1:24. Penalties - Gonchar, Was (holding stick), 7:13; Kwiatkowski, Was, double minor (high-sticking), 9:12. Second period - 2, Washington, Zubrus 5 (Lang, Gonchar), 13:53 (pp). 3, Washington, Willsie 1, 17:12. Penalties - Halpern, Was (interference), 9:18. Ward, Car (holding), 13:22. Cole, Car (interference), 14:40. K.Adams, Car (slashing), 19:34. Third period - 4, Washington, Zubrus 6 (Bondra, Semin), 3:34. 5, Washington, Semin 2 (Bondra, Eminger), 4:15. 6, Carolina, Bayda, 4:34. 7, Washington, Lang 9 (Miller, Jagr), 4:50. 8, Washington, Lang 10 (Gonchar, Zubrus), 14:34 (pp). Penalties - Gordon, Was (interference), 5:18; Boulerice, Car, minor-major-misconduct (instigating, fighting), 9:04; Peat, Was, major (fighting), 9:04; O'Neill, Car, double minor (cross-checking), 11:52; Cole, Car, double minor (elbowing, roughing), 17:06; Doig, Was (roughing), 17:06. Shots on goal - Carolina 10-11-9-30. Washington 7-8-17-32. Power-play opportunities - Carolina 0 of 5; Washington 2 of 7. Goalies - Carolina, Weekes 4-5-3 (17 shots-13 saves), Storr (3:34 3rd period, 15-12). Washington, Kolzig 4-10-1 (30-29). A - 16,649 (18,277). T-2:18.

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