- The Washington Times - Friday, October 20, 2000

CAPS 5, DEVILS 2

The "old look" Washington Capitals, the ones who had been missing this season, appeared last night at MCI Center to face the New Jersey Devils. And for the Devils, it was not a pretty sight.

The comatose offense roared to life, with team captain Adam Oates leading the way by earning his 900th assist as the Caps crushed the defending Stanley Cup champions 5-2.

It was Washington's first victory of the season, giving the Caps a record of 1-3-2-1 and was, without a doubt, their best game. And for the first time since the exhibition season began, the Caps played like a team, not a bunch of guys who met in the parking lot.

Oates continued his assault on the record book when he assisted on Peter Bondra's fifth goal of the season at 13:56 of the second period. He fed the right wing the puck in the middle of the left circle, and Bondra hammered it through Martin Brodeur, sending the star goalie to the bench for the night.

Oates had two goals and two assists his first four-point night since Oct. 8, 1997, against the New York Islanders. He now has 1,205 points in 16 NHL seasons and doesn't appear to have slowed much, if at all, at 38.

The goal total was the highest the struggling Caps have achieved this season and came without much of a struggle, in itself a rarity when facing New Jersey. Steve Konowalchuk put Washington up 1-0 just 3:36 into the game, and Oates' first of the contest came shortly before the end of the first period. In the opening 20 minutes, Brodeur faced just four shots and let in half of them.

The Caps were being outshot by at least a 2-1 margin for most of the game, but goalie Olie Kolzig appeared to be his sharpest since coming back from knee surgery. The first goal he surrendered came early in the second period when Sergei Nemchinov shot from a bad angle to Kolzig's left and the puck appeared to glance in off the goalie's left skate. The second was off a Devils power play.

That is not to say Kolzig wasn't occasionally in trouble. But the difference last night was that he got support from his teammates clearing bodies and pucks out of the crease.

Bondra pushed his totals to five goals and seven points as he continues to play some of his best hockey over the past three seasons. He is not only scoring at a point-a-game clip, he also is playing good defense.

Washington played shorthanded from late in the first through the end of the game. Defenseman Joe Reekie sustained a strained neck and took just seven shifts in the first period and none thereafter.

Dmitri Mironov also scored for the Caps, his first goal since last December.

Notes The Caps had been outscored 10-1 in first periods before last night, and half of those opposition goals came in the first five minutes of a game. Washington narrowed that gap to 10-3… . The missing Southeast Division championship banner mysteriously has reappeared at MCI; it disappeared between opening night and Tuesday's game… .

Defenseman Brendan Witt (bruised elbow) was out last night, giving Dmitri Mironov a chance to make his season debut. Rookie center Kris Beech was scratched while wing Richard Zednik was starting his four-game suspension… . Former Caps Dino Ciccarelli and Rod Langway attended the game last night, Ciccarelli for the second straight game. The two also are attending the Presidents Cup golf tournament… .

The Devils' Scott Stevens is the only player in NHL history to play more than 600 games with two teams, 601 with Washington and 679 and counting with New Jersey… . The New York Islanders are at MCI tomorrow night.

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