- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 1, 2001

Three players achieved milestones last night as Washington closed the gap on the front-running Carolina Hurricanes with a performance in which the Capitals dominated most of the way. Which raises a question: Why can't the Caps play at something close to that level most of the time?
Washington drove Arturs Irbe out of the net with four goals in the first 14 minutes and went on to record a 6-2 victory over the Hurricanes, narrowing Carolina's lead in the Southeast Division to seven points. The teams play tomorrow afternoon in Raleigh, and a Caps sweep would reduce their deficit to five points with 41/2 months to play.
The three players who moved up the ladder of NHL success:
Adam Oates, who had a goal and assist to give him 1,301 points in his 17-year NHL career, a plateau that only 20 other players have reached in league history. He is just the sixth active player Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux and Doug Gilmour are the others to earn that many points. He is also just 20 assists short of the goal he has been shooting for throughout his career, 1,000 assists.
Peter Bondra, who had two goals to move past retired Hall of Famer Mike Gartner and become the all-time leader in goals scored for the Caps with 399. He tied Gartner's 397 total Wednesday night but also committed a huge blunder with a bad pass that allowed Buffalo to score the winning goal. His next goal will be his 400th all with the same team, highly unusual in today's ever-changing personnel picture.
Right wing Jaromir Jagr had two assists to give him 1,100 points in his 12-year career.
"That's a phenomenal number, 1,300 points," Caps coach Ron Wilson said of Oates. "You have to play a long time to get 1,300 points and then you have to be very successful and Adam has been both. That's a remarkable number.
"Everyone will talk only about Peter's goals, but then if you watched the way he played tonight, he was very responsible defensively and that's probably why he ended up scoring some goals. In this league if you cheat you're often not rewarded, and Peter has been playing at both ends of the rink. That's why he's leading our team in goals [17] he's a complete hockey player."
Bondra scored twice in the first period, Sergei Gonchar and Dmitri Khristich adding one apiece, but memories of Wednesday night when the Caps watched a 3-0 lead evaporate were soon flashing through a lot of minds. Carolina cut the deficit in half before the first period ended, and it took goals by Ulf Dahlen and Oates to end any doubt in the second after the Hurricanes had outshot the Caps 20-3 over 13 minutes.
"We can enjoy this for about 10 minutes, then we have to focus on the next game," Dahlen said. "The game coming up [tomorrow] is huge, and we can't afford to enjoy this too much. … We're not in a position to enjoy anything right now."
Even with the victory, the Caps are still three games below .500 and four positions out of a playoff spot.
In an interview with The Washington Times just before he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame earlier this month, Gartner reflected on someone eclipsing one of his records.
"It doesn't bother me in the least," he said. "Two things have to happen for somebody to break a record like that. First, you have to play in one city for a long time. Second, you have to be very successful, and Peter has done both. He's been a very productive player, and there aren't many guys who have been more productive. He deserves that honor."
Caps rookie right wing Stephen Peat was a healthy scratch for the fifth game in a row. He was joined by center Trent Whitfield and defenseman Rob Zettler as spectators.

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