- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2001

PITTSBURGH. Stop the presses.

The Caps scored a goal last night, four of them, in fact, three off the previously anemic power play.

Hell also froze over as the Caps tied the series in dramatic fashion.

Steve Konowalchuk put the puck in the net with 12:11 left in the first period. That was worth a celebration by the Caps. Or was all the commotion an overdone sigh of relief?

It was the first goal by the Caps since who knows when.

The last time the Caps scored, Chris Simon had long hair, and the chatterboxes in Washington were not questioning Ron Wilson's job security.

Strike up the band. Break out the confetti. Hand Konowalchuk the keys to the city. The Peking duck in Tony Cheng's neighborhood is on the house.

Konowalchuk had what amounted to a two-man advantage on his first goal, beating the return of one of the penalty-serving Penguins.

If you're the Caps, you take a goal any way you can get it. The goal-challenged can't be choosy.

The Caps have been especially casual around Johan Hedberg, the Penguins' 27-year-old rookie goalie who was playing with the Manitoba Moose until March 13. He still wears his goalie mask from the Moose, thinking it is his lucky charm. It doesn't hurt to have the Caps as an opponent, either.

Whenever Hedberg stops the puck, the towel-waving crowd chants, "Moose, Moose." The crowd does not mean Moose Skowron.

Anyway, it was assumed if the Caps expressed an interest in challenging Hedberg, he would roll over, although perhaps not as willingly as Webster Hubbell.

The Caps are stuck between a rookie goalie and a system. They usually score once a month and play defense the rest of the time. The Caps grind with the best. They go into the corners. They put bodies on people. They try to average one goal a month.

Yet a rookie goalie is an inviting target. You can't permit a rookie goalie to sip coffee during the game.

The Caps got to Hedberg early, and again late in the second period, and then in the third period, which just goes to show you that you can take the rookie out of Manitoba, but you can't take Manitoba out of the rookie.

The Caps led 3-1 after Konowalchuk's second goal of the game, showing fight, grit and a resolve to silence the history lesson. History dogs the Caps in April, whether the owner is Abe Pollin or Ted Leonsis.

Michael Jordan, one of the team's minority owners, is warming up, as usual. Jordan on hockey skates would make him a three-sport athlete, if you count his baseball foray.

By the way, do you need a Mario Lemieux jersey to complete your wardrobe? They ask that in the Igloo.

Lemieux and Jordan count each other as buddies, except when Lemieux is on the ice to score a goal or take a dive by the nearest official. All the subjective part of the sport goes to the superstar.

It was that way last spring as well, only the superstar then was Jaromir Jagr. Have you seen him around lately? Is he still with the Penguins? He is glad you asked. Take that. Take his first goal in the series as a sign that he has not lost his touch.

You always know where Lemieux is, usually scraping the ice with his chin, pleading with the men in stripes to restore order to the game.

Lemieux became all tangled with Joe Reekie, with the Penguins down by a goal with 7:53 left in regulation. Lemieux tried so hard to free himself from Reekie, but being such a tiny and frail person, he could not do it. You know how it went from there. The men in stripes had no choice but to stop play and stick Reekie in the penalty box for two minutes. You can't interfere with a player like that, even if Lemieux made the interference look a whole lot more dramatic than it really was.

So Reekie went to the penalty box, and it wasn't too long before the Penguins tied the game 3-3 on Janne Laukkanen's goal.

It is never easy with the Caps.

They had a 3-1 lead with 10:51 left in regulation and couldn't hold it. They scored three goals in 60 minutes, which is almost a record for them. They went to all that trouble on offense, and all it did was get them into overtime.

That turned out to be enough.

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