- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 12, 2004

RALEIGH, N.C. — Washington Capitals defenseman Jason Doig knew he was in for a tough game at RBC Center last night after being suspended for two games for his hit on Kevyn Adams here two weeks ago that left the Carolina center with a serious knee injury.

So it was no surprise that Doig had a fight and was continually involved in rough stuff, but he also drew a penalty that set up a critical goal as the Capitals and Hurricanes tied 3-3.

“I had fun,” Doig said. “I expected them to take the body on me. They’re sticking up for their teammate. That’s normal. We would have done the same thing.”

The surprise was that the high-sticking minor Doig drew was on Carolina’s Ron Francis, the three-time Lady Byng Trophy winner as the NHL’s most gentlemanly player. Washington had failed on its first five power plays, but this time Peter Bondra’s shot from the right point bounced off Jeff Halpern’s left skate and into the net at 16:59 of the second period.

Then at 8:03 of the third period with Bret Hedican in the penalty box, Robert Lang took a shot from the left circle. Halpern worked the rebound free and passed to Anson Carter for the one-timer from a bad angle that beat Hurricanes goalie Kevin Weekes.

The Caps, 6-5-2-1 in their past 14 games and 4-0-1 against the Hurricanes were 5:03 from closing within three points of their division rivals and escaping the Southeast cellar for the first time since mid-October. However, Halpern was a moment late covering Pavel Brendl at the left post on a point-blank shot that beat Olie Kolzig. The goalie preserved the tie by stoning Jeff O’Neill from the slot with 2:04 left in regulation.

“It would have been almost unfair for Carolina not to get a point, because they played well,” Caps coach Glen Hanlon said. “Their will in certain areas was stronger than ours. If it wasn’t for Olie, I don’t know what the score would have been.”

Kolzig robbed the wide-open O’Neill with two minutes left in overtime by guessing correctly that he was going to shoot glove side. Bondra, Halpern, Lang and Joel Kwiatkowski all failed on good chances in the extra five minutes for the Caps, who were outshot 41-21 for the night.

“I’ve got a great track record against them for whatever reason,” said Kolzig, 15-7-8 with a sterling 1.90 goals-against average against the Hurricanes. “They come at us hard. They throw a lot of pucks at the net.”

Doig didn’t generate a reaction when he first took the ice, but after Carolina enforcer Jesse Boulerice checked him into the boards at 1:40 of the first period, the fans roared and some began a derisive cheer.

After Josef Boumedienne left Washington shorthanded at 11:19, not only did the Hurricanes manage only one shot during the power play, the Caps’ Darcy Verot and Mike Grier broke out on a 2-on-1 against Hedican. The play ended at 12:43 with Grier scoring on a backhand on the assist from Verot, the rookie’s first point in his 18 NHL games.

The goal, Grier’s third in seven games after he managed two in his first 48 contests, was only Washington’s second shorthanded goal this season.

With the teams skating 4-on-4, only Boumedienne was back when Hedican deftly fed Marty Murray for the point-blank backhand that beat Kolzig to make it 1-1 at 18:12.

Doig went off for tripping Brendl at 2:23 of the second period on a play that infuriated Carolina coach Peter Laviolette for its similarity to the hit on Adams. The penalty was seven seconds from expiring when the screened Kolzig couldn’t stop Sean Hill’s blast from the point.

Tempers then boiled over. Doig and Craig Adams fought at 4:45, and Adams gave Doig a throat-slashing gesture as they skated to the penalty boxes. Fellow combatants Verot and Bruno St. Jacques were given game misconducts.

The energized Hurricanes outshot the Caps 13-0 during the period’s first 11 minutes. Only some luck and heady play by Kolzig kept Washington close until Halpern evened the score with his ninth goal in 28 games for Hanlon compared to two in 25 games under Bruce Cassidy.

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