- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Jaromir Jagr did not have the type of performance he had hoped for last night in his first game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team that traded him to Washington last July.
For that matter, the Caps didn't have the type of night they had hoped for against Pittsburgh. The team, whose power play ranked No. 1 in the league entering the game, wasted five opportunities with the extra man and had to rally for a 2-2 overtime tie against the Penguins.
Washington is now unbeaten in three against Pittsburgh during regular season play (2-0-1) but winless in its last three this season overall (0-1-2).
Meanwhile, the Caps lost a key performer when Andrei Nikolishin was injured during the second period and did not return. The team said after the game the center had a bruised left leg and was day-to-day. He has six goals and 19 points centering one of the top two lines this season.
Jagr helped the Penguins win two Stanley Cups and won five scoring championships but asked for a trade last summer and went to the Caps. Last night was the first time in his NHL career he had played against his former team.
"To me it was the same, like a regular game," he said. "I didn't feel any different. It's too bad, I thought it would be a lot better hockey."
While the hype centered on Jagr, it was Johan Hedberg, the small Pittsburgh goalie who was the center of hype last spring during the playoffs, who was the star. He repeatedly turned aside what appeared to be sure Washington scoring strikes, the biggest with about five minutes left in regulation when he stopped Ulf Dahlen from converting a perfect Adam Oates pass.
"We had enough scoring chances 5-on-5 to put them away. Hedberg made some unbelievable saves," coach Ron Wilson said, "some on the power play but more 5-on-5 and the big save on Dahlen. That ended up being the difference. He saved them a point for sure."
The game was scoreless through the first, thanks to Hedberg. The Caps had five power plays and failed to convert, the goalie rejecting all seven shots he faced. He turned back a power play in the second.
"We had a lot of opportunities on the power play and we don't get a goal," Dahlen said. "If we get a goal on the power play, we win the game. The penalty-killing was good (3-for-3) but the power play has to put the puck in the net at home."
Yet it was a heads-up play coming off a penalty-kill that allowed Washington to gain the tie. Chris Simon had been sent off for slashing and as he was about to be freed, Peter Bondra intercepted a pass and started for the other end. Simon joined the rush, creating a 2-on-1, and accepted a pass from Bondra as they closed in on Hedberg. Simon lifted the puck over the goalie's left leg at 4:42 of the third and the scoring was done for the night.
All of the other scoring took place in the second, two of the goals coming within 12 seconds. Alexei Kovalev converted a blind feed from Robert Lang and beat Olie Kolzig in the top right corner at 4:25. Twelve seconds later, as the Caps were backing into their zone on defense, Jagr intercepted a pass and fed Dahlen, who had already turned back, behind the defense. Dahlen was alone and beat Hedberg.
The teams meet again twice before Christmas.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide