CAPS 6, RED WINGS 2
Peter Bondra, who knows something about goal-scoring, looked over at teammate Richard Zednik and exclaimed, “He could have had five goals tonight.”
Three was enough, with Bondra assisting on all of them, as the Washington Capitals crushed the Detroit Red Wings, 6-2, at MCI Center and finished the month of October with a mediocre record of 2-5-4-1. However the season is finally on the upswing after another depressing start.
Zednik scored in every period and Jeff Halpern, Sylvain Cote and Joe Sacco also scored to back the strong effort by goalie Olie Kolzig.
The Caps’ solid play started with the third period in Philadelphia Sunday night and the it continued into last night with three strong periods as Washington routed a good team.
Actually, Zednik very nearly had four goals. With just under three minutes left in the game, he came in on goalie Chris Osgood and rattled a shot off the right post, missing goal No. 4 by an inch or less.
It was Zednik’s second game back after serving a four-game suspension for high-sticking. He wasted no time getting back into the swing of things.
“It was nice that that line [Andrei Nikolishin and Bondra] really clicked,” coach Ron Wilson said. “Geez, he could have had five or six goals tonight.”
Washington has had problems putting together a complete game, sometimes struggling to string consecutive good periods together. Last night was not one of those nights.
“We came out skating right off the bat,” Wilson said. “We started right where we left off against the Flyers, playing to win, we got the puck in deep and beat their defensemen to a lot of loose pucks. We stuck with the plan in the first period … tonight we just kept on going with our game plan and it was nice to see our players rewarded.”
It was also nice for a festive holiday crowd of 15,151. At the start of the game a vocal Detroit following drowned out the Cap fans but that turned and many of the Red Wing followers were gone long before Zednik completed his first-ever hat trick.
“Everybody was telling me before the game, ‘Hey, it’s your night, it’s Zed night,’ ” Zednik said, referring to a few hundred fans of the wing who had their hair bleached blonde like their hero and were assembled together in one section of the arena. “I think that was the best game all season we play.”
Zednik is one of the younger players the Caps had hoped would turn into an offensive star. For a few years he has buzzed around nets with great speed but has had problems finishing.
“I never had a hat trick,” Zednik said. “Now I have a hat trick and it feels good, especially on Zed night.”
Halpern scored in the first, Detroit tied it and Zednik put Washington ahead to stay. The Caps continued to apply pressure in the second and third periods, the Red Wings’ second goal coming with about five minutes left when they already trailed by three.
It was Washington’s first home victory over Detroit since January, 1994.
Notes Wilson had no official comment on today’s expected announcement that Herb Brooks would once again be the U.S. Olympic hockey coach; he coached the Miracle on Ice squad in 1980. Wilson did say that it was probably smart that somebody not associated with an NHL team take over as coach, although Pittsburgh GM Craig Patrick will be Brooks’ GM. What is unfortunate is that it appears Wilson and the U.S. GM in Nagano, the Devils’ Lou Lamoriello, will now get the blame for the action of what is thought to be one individual in the destruction of a dorm room, which resulted in a deeper shade of red on the faces of everybody involved after a poor performance on the ice. The player involved has never owned up to what he did. What is also unfortunate is that it appears the Olympic hockey movement in this country is again splintered, with the Minnesota faction regaining control after compromise led to the NHL being involved in the Games. Shoving aside two New Englanders Lamoriello and Wilson without so much as a courtesy phone call is an example of how wide the split is… . Some 200 fans had their hair bleached blonde as part of the Zed head promotion. Not to be outdone, the Caps hired an Elvis impersonator (and a bad one at that) to do the national anthem.