- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 3, 2002

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. Washington saved the best for last.

The Capitals scored three times within 10 minutes last night, wiping out a Pittsburgh lead for a 3-1 victory over the Penguins. It avenged an earlier 6-3 preseason loss.

Jaromir Jagr scored his first goal of the preseason, Chris Simon his second and Sergei Gonchar his third for Washington to back some super goaltending from Olie Kolzig.

The Caps are now 2-3-0-1 in the preseason with two games to go.

It was a night of special teams for the Caps. The Caps killed off all three penalties while scoring twice on seven power-play chances.

The best news of all was the appearance of defenseman Calle Johansson, who played for the first time since last Nov.8; he had major shoulder surgery four days later.

It was also a night of solid performances by some of the younger Caps, notably defenseman Steve Eminger, center Brian Sutherby and right wing Mike Farrell.

Washington was facing Johan Hedberg in goal, a player they have had little luck against. He stonewalled Washington for 45 minutes, turning aside the first 15 shots he faced before he faded.

Hedberg was in goal the last time the Caps and the Penguins, for that matter were in the playoffs in April2001. He was the surprise starter in the first round, a refugee from the Manitoba Moose in the International League with nine NHL games of experience. He did a trick on the Caps and his magic prevailed for a while last night.

The only scoring in the first two periods came 13:43 into the game when Washington was guilty of a terrible turnover and Pittsburgh converted. Gonchar, attempting to clear the puck under pressure, passed from the rear boards and the puck glanced off center Kip Miller's skates. Pittsburgh's Shean Donovan scooped up the loose puck, closed a few feet on Kolzig and ripped a low shot into the short side, an unassisted goal.

At least one Cap Simon played with the intensity usually reserved for stretch drives. He took good runs at center Kent Manderville repeatedly and at defenseman Rick Berry. The latter at one point went after one of the smaller Caps, Chris Ferraro, which drew a quick response from Simon. That level of intensity had been missing from training camp until last night.

Notes No surprises with the list of players the Caps made available for tomorrow's waiver draft. Washington exposed veteran Craig Billington but at 36 and making $875,000 a season, the goalie probably won't be claimed. Sebastien Charpentier was protected as Olie Kolzig's backup. Will the Caps, picking 12th, make any claims? They protected Ryan Van Buskirk, an expendable minor league defenseman, leaving the possibility that they are at least prepared to do something (if a team claims a player, it must drop a protected player, hence Van Buskirk's inclusion). A few unprotected players Washington might be interested in: Anaheim defenseman Jason York, Boston forward Michal Grosek, Dallas forward David Oliver or ex-Cap Tim Taylor, the well-traveled center Tampa didn't protect. No movement reported on the labor front; Andrei Nikolishin and Dainius Zubrus continue their holdouts. The Caps are home against Carolina tomorrow night and finish the preseason Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia. Mario Lemieux hasn't played in a game since Feb.27. Four-year-old First Union Arena in Wilkes-Barre seats 8,l43, has been sold out for 60 straight American Hockey League games and doesn't have an available seat for Pittsburgh's minor league team this season.


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