- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 11, 2007

A pair of fortuitous bounces weren’t enough for the Washington Capitals to overcome a stout New York Rangers power play.

The Rangers scored three times with the man advantage in their first four chances to beat the Caps 5-2 last night in front of an announced crowd of 18,277 at Verizon Center. Michal Rozsival had two of the power play markers, and Jaromir Jagr had three assists to give him 1,501 career points.

Jagr is the second player to reach the 1,500-point plateau this season (12th in NHL history) and both have done it against Washington. Colorado center Joe Sakic became the 11th player to get there on Oct. 25 at home against the Caps

“I had to [pass]. I couldn’t score. I was awful,” Jagr said. “I’m just happy that we played good for 60 minutes. It’s not easy. We didn’t have any success here the last two years. They always play us tough.”

Both of Washington’s goals came because of lucky bounces from the same spot along the boards located to the left of the visitors’ goal.

The Caps had not scored on the power play in the past four games, and they got their first lucky break to stop the streak with 1:40 left in the first period. Alex Ovechkin lost the puck along the left boards, which resulted in a shorthanded breakaway opportunity for the Rangers. Kolzig turned that chance from Jed Ortmeyer aside and seconds later defenseman Mike Green sent the puck into the New York zone.

It kicked out between the circles, Ovechkin corralled it there and beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist for his 34th goal of the season. Lundqvist had missed the puck as it wrapped around the boards and was just getting back in front of the net. Ovechkin, like the power-play unit, had not scored a goal in four games — his second longest drought of the season.

Alexander Semin sent the puck into the zone along the boards in the same fashion 2:15 into the third period with the Caps on the power play. This time Lundqvist didn’t bother to try knocking it down, and again it bounced out in front of the net. Chris Clark was there and he backhanded the puck over Lundqvist’s shoulder for his 24th of the year.

Lundqvist and Rangers defenseman Aaron Ward complained to the officials, and the Rangers netminder went over to the trouble area and chipped at the ice with his stick and skates during the next time stoppage.

“It’s a league with good players,” Lundqvist said. “We should be able to have a good rink. I think it’s a joke to have boards like that. It could be a change in the game just because of the bounces — twice.”

The Rangers’ first two power play goals came on rebounds and the third — Rozsival’s second of the night and the game-winner — was the result of a nifty diagonal pass from Michael Nylander.

“There were a couple of iffy calls but again, even on the PK we have to bear down and box people out of the front of the net and not let them get that rebound,” Caps defenseman Steve Eminger said. “Olie’s going to make that first save, but we got to be ready to get on that puck for the second and third shots.”

Rozsival’s second goal came after Kolzig was assessed a roughing penalty for taking a swing at noted agitator Sean Avery with his glove hand. Avery had just driven to the net and may or may not have made contact with the Caps netminder.

These two teams combined for 86 penalty minutes the last time they met, and tempers were high again last night. Midway through the first period, Caps center Brian Sutherby ran into Lundqvist (which earned him a charging minor and led to Rozsival’s goal) and Rangers tough guy Ryan Hollweg took exception.

Both Caps left wing Donald Brashear and Rangers right wing Colton Orr earned suspensions after their antics in the previous meeting, and after a couple of “friendly discussions” in the game’s first 30 minutes, they dropped their gloves 12:17 into the second. Orr landed more blows, but Brashear knocked him to the ground and drew spirited applause from the Caps fans.

Afterward, Brashear flashed an index finger — first at the Rangers bench and then at Orr when they were both situated in the penalty boxes.

This was a chance for the Caps to finish a four-game homestand with points in each contest and an opportunity to gain ground in the Eastern Conference.

While the Rangers moved to within three points of the final playoff spot, the Caps remained eight points out and tied with Boston for 12th place.

“All these teams that are in front of us are four-point games and obviously must-wins,” Clark said. “It hurts even more especially against a team like that where we know we can play against and have in the past.”

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