- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 27, 2001

There is nobody in the Washington Capitals dressing room unaware of the club's various streaks, and obviously there is nobody who wouldn't like to see them extended.

By the same token, however, nobody appears ready to go suicidal when the team finally loses a game.

"It's no big deal if we don't win the next game," said left wing Steve Konowalchuk, who immediately threw in a qualifying phrase: "if we continue to play consistently good. We'll be upset if we lose, but the consistency is important."

Washington plays host to the Chicago Blackhawks tonight to open a stretch in which it plays eight out of 10 at home. The Blackhawks defeated Washington 3-1 on Jan. 19, concluding a run in which the Caps lost four out of five. Washington currently is on a five-game winning streak.

The date is significant because Washington has lost only once since that night in the United Center, Jan. 27 in Montreal. Washington is 10-0-2 in its last 12 games, the third-longest unbeaten streak in team history (13-0-1 in '83-84 and 9-0-5 in '82-83). The 12-game streak is tied for the longest in the league this season.

There are other streaks, including a pair of 6-0-1 runs at home and on the road. Washington had a nine-game unbeaten streak at home earlier this season, but the seven-game road run is tied for the fourth longest in club history.

Adam Oates, 38, is showing that experience is more important than age with a 10-game point streak (two goals, 12 assists), his longest with Washington and the longest current run in the league.

"I think we're a good team, and we happen to be on a streak," coach Ron Wilson said. "Usually you get six or seven games into one of these streaks and you get some lucky bounces and fluky wins, and that hasn't happened. In fact, we seem to have played better. The last four or five games we've played some pretty good hockey."

Wilson and several of his players said there was no indication anybody was starting to get uptight about extending the run or making a mistake that might end it.

"If you make a mistake, you know the guy beside you is going to get you out of it," left wing James Black said. "We have a lot of confidence right now, and guys aren't afraid to make a mistake. We back each other up."

"When you're playing like this, you're loose, you're having fun, you're not worried about the next shift or the next game. You're relaxed. You just go out and play," Konowalchuk said.

"We have something good going right now, and we want to continue it," right wing Joe Sacco said. "It won't last forever. We know that, but we would like to keep it going for a while. The key to this whole thing is we've been consistent for the last 2 and 1/2 months, maybe longer, playing the same way every night. That gets you results."

Wilson didn't see any downside either but appeared worried that somebody was searching for the wrong angle.

"I don't know whom we're supposed to please," he said. "If you get on a streak, it's at the wrong time, you're peaking too early. If you're not winning now, something's wrong. I don't understand what you're supposed to do in sports. Somebody's always looking for something wrong.

"Right now we're just trying to maintain what we've been doing and build a consistent effort every night. We've been very consistent for three to four months now, and that's positive."

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