Bondra's last-minute tally lifts Caps to 3-2 win

Kolzig makes 38 saves to thwart Canadiens

Jagr adds goal, assist

Hockey

December 24, 2003|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Peter Bondra had worked hard all night, taking chances, playing defense, helping to negate a major penalty by drawing the opposition into a slashing penalty on a breakaway.

So maybe it was just that as the final minute was being played Bondra found himself at the far post and in the perfect position to knock in the Washington Capitals' game-winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens.

"Sometimes it takes being in the right spot at the right time," Bondra, the Caps' all-time leader in points, and power-play, short-handed and game-winning goals, said after his goal with 53.8 seconds left gave the Caps the 3-2 win.

"Goal scorers - not that I'm calling myself a goal scorer, but if you work hard, the puck will find you, sooner or later for the good of the team."

The puck doesn't always find the Capitals at the right moment. But last night Washington, 3-2-2-1 under coach Glen Hanlon and 11-20-3-1 overall, found a way to win on a night when not everything went their way.

Twice the Capitals had the lead. First on a beauty of a power-play goal by Jaromir Jagr (goal, assist) at 1-0 in the second period. And again at 2-1, when Jeff Halpern scored with the two teams skating 4-on-4.

The first lead lasted until the 3:18 mark of the third period when former Cap Jan Bulis beat goalie Olie Kolzig (38 saves) with a straight-on shot.

The game got dicey after that.

Caps defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski drew a major five-minute penalty for checking from behind. His target, Saku Koivu, got two minutes when he threw a punch in response.

That's when the Caps' timing got incredibly good.

"It was a major turning point," said Caps wing Mike Grier. "But [Halpern] scored 4-on-4 and then Bondra cut the power play by getting free and drawing them into another two-minute penalty. It was a big moment."

In the end, it was the Capitals who made the biggest play as rookie defenseman Dwayne Zinger and Grier managed to get the puck to the crease where Bondra was able to knock it home to clinch the game.

It was Washington's first win against Montreal this season, having lost their first two meetings, 5-1 and 5-3.

"In all seriousness," said Hanlon, "there is something to be said for spending three days with a win under your belt. It's good for your mental disposition. Tonight, resiliency was the key. On the bench, you can sense when you have it. The right guys are saying the right things. You could tell tonight that their goals didn't get us out of our game."

Montreal 0 0 2 - 2

Washington 0 1 2 - 3

First period - Penalties - Jagr, Was (hooking), 1:53; Bondra, Was (slashing), 19:05; Dagenais, Mon (interference), 19:18. Second period - 1, Washington, Jagr 13 (Zubrus, Gonchar), 5:37 (pp). Penalties - Souray, Mon (cross-checking), 4:27; Zinger, Was (interference), 8:46; Doig, Was (tripping), 19:03. Third period - 2, Montreal, Bulis 7 (Koivu, Bouillon), 3:18. 3, Washington, Halpern 4 (Jagr, Gonchar), 4:56. 4, Montreal, Ryder 7 (Bouillon, Ribeiro), 8:24 (pp). 5, Washington, Bondra 14 (Grier, Zinger), 19:06. Penalties - Koivu, Mtl (roughing) 3:49; Kwiatkowski, Was, major-game misconduct (checking from behind), 3:45; Souray, Mtl (slashing), 6:07. Shots on goal - Montreal 11-14-15-40. Washington 6-10-6-22. Power-play opportunities - Montreal 1 of 7; Washington 1 of 2. Goalies - Montreal, Garon 3-4-1 (22 shots-19 saves). Washington, Kolzig 9-19-2 (40-38). A - 12,469 (18,277). T-2:20.

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