For Capitals, new coach nets 6-5 victory

Washington makes debut of Hanlon a successful one as fast start beats Bruins


December 12, 2003|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - With 1:24 to play last night, Jeff Halpern poked a loose puck into an open net for a three-goal Washington Capitals lead and what appeared to be pure padding in the team's first game under new coach Glen Hanlon.

But when the final second ticked off the clock, it was Halpern's goal that was the game-winner in the Caps' 6-5 victory over the Boston Bruins before 15,384 at MCI Center.

"We were fine," said Hanlon, who was named the head coach on Wednesday afternoon, shortly after Bruce Cassidy was fired. "All of it comes from that sense of nervousness. Every team goes through it. I told them it was a one-goal game, enjoy it."

In the locker room after the game, there was no doubt the Capitals were enjoying not only the results, but also the game they had played to achieve it, despite giving up goals to Ted Donato and Travis Green in the final 62 seconds.

The game, like most Caps games this season, started badly, with Jaromir Jagr turning the puck over in the neutral zone and Boston taking the early lead just 2:19 into the opening period on a goal by Mike Knuble.

But unlike other games, the Caps did more than go through the motions.

"I knew that goal wouldn't beat us," said Dainius Zubrus, who scored on a penalty shot in the third period for a 5-3 Caps lead. "As good as Boston is, we have players who can score. The way the team felt before the drop of the puck, I knew one goal wouldn't beat us."

It is a new era, the Hanlon era. It comes with simple directions. Never stop skating and use speed to carry the attack into the opposing team's zone.

"Before the game, Glen didn't talk a lot," said Caps goalie Olie Kolzig, who made 34 saves. "We had a meeting and he just said all the right things and positive things. He said if we keep moving our feet, good things will happen."

And they did. Just 1:26 after Boston had taken the lead, Peter Bondra scored at the right post on a 5-on-3 power play. A minute after that, Jagr (one goal, one assist) scored the team's second power-play goal. When Matt Pettinger made it 3-1 about two minutes later, the Caps had scored on three consecutive shots and chased Boston starting goalie Felix Potvin to the bench.

It was the beginning of a night on which six different Capitals found the back of the net in a variety of ways.

Bates Battaglia broke a 28-game goal-less streak that dated to March. Zubrus scored on a rare penalty shot, the third attempt of his career and the first successful one. And Halpern, who had been struggling for offense, got his third goal of the season by diving to the ice and poking the puck into the net.

It was Washington's ninth win in 29 games and broke a three-game losing streak. Its 9-18-1-1 record continues to rival the Pittsburgh Penguins (6-15-4-2) for the worst record in the NHL. Boston is winless in its past five games (0-2-3).

"There was just a different feeling out there tonight," Halpern said. "I can't speak for everyone, but for myself, it was refreshing. Like a new start. Nothing against [the previous coach], but you have the feeling that as long as you work hard, this coach will stick with you."

Boston 2 1 2 - 5

Washington 3 1 2 - 6

First period - 1, Boston, Knuble 11 (Murray, Boynton), 2:19. 2, Washington, Bondra 11 (Gonchar, Jagr), 3:45 (pp). 3, Washington, Jagr 11 (Zubrus), 4:45 (pp). 4, Washington, Pettinger 3 (Halpern, Grier), 6:37. 5, Boston, McGillis 3, 9:37. Penalties - Lapointe, Bos (ob.-hooking), 2:26; Murray, Bos (holding), 3:10; Boynton, Bos (roughing), 10:14; Lang, Was (hooking), 13:52; Gonchar, Was (interference), 16:19.

Second period - 6, Washington, Battaglia 1 (Gordon), 4:55. 7, Boston, Lapointe 7 (Bergeron, Rolston), 7:55 (pp). Penalties - Zubrus, Was (hooking), 6:14; Zinger, Was, major (fighting), 9:08; Doull, Bos, major (fighting), 9:08; Gonchar, Was (elbowing), 12:52; Berry, Was (cross-checking), 18:52.

Third period - 8, Washington, Zubrus 10, 14:48 (ps). 9, Washington, Halpern 3 (Zubrus), 18:36 (en). 10, Boston, Donato 2 (Jillson, Bergeron), 18:58. 11, Boston, Green 4 (Lapointe, Thornton), 19:52. Penalties - Pettinger, Was (roughing), 12:14; Rolston, Bos (cross-checking), 12:14; Eminger, Was, major (fighting), 12:14; Moran, Bos, major (fighting), 12:14; Halpern, Was, double minor (high-sticking), 19:57. Shots on goal - Boston 10-14-15-39. Washington 9-5-13-27. Power-play opportunities - Boston 1 of 6; Washington 2 of 3. Goalies - Boston, Potvin (5 shots-2 saves), Raycroft 8-5-4 (6:37 first, (21-19). Washington, Kolzig 8-17-1 (39-34). A - 15,384 (18,277). T - 2:30.

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