- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2001


The Washington Capitals were flat out of miracles. If ever there was a time of reckoning for one of the league's hottest teams, it came last night.

The Caps suffered a let down that some teams have after the trading deadline and came up with one of their poorest efforts in weeks. Taking nothing away from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, but the Caps were major contributors to the visitors' 2-0 victory at the MCI Center.

The victory went to Jean-Sebastien Giguere who fashioned his third shutout within the past 10 days and fourth in his past 10 games. He turned aside 33 shots (he has stopped the last 77 shots he has faced) but did not have a difficult night because he had excellent support in front and faced an uncoordinated attack.

But Washington's five-game winning streak is history and the team failed to widen the gap between itself and Carolina, 15 points in arrears in the Southeast Division. The magic number to win the division stays at 14 and the two teams meet tomorrow night here.

The Caps played without two regulars who had been traded earlier in the day wings Jan Bulis and Richard Zednik. Three newcomers, who were unavailable last night, will join the Caps at practice today.

It wasn't so much that the Caps did a whole lot of things wrong, it was that they didn't do enough things right. The result was a sloppy effort that wasn't intended but may have been overdue.

"We needed something like that to happen," coach Ron Wilson said, "because I don't think we've put together enough complete games, especially recently. We've managed to storm back with a good 20 minutes or something like that but tonight … it's not that we didn't try but we weren't mentally sharp at all. We didn't take advantage of what the goalie was giving us he was down and we were shooting low; we didn't get to the net [to create traffic].

"We just seemed out of sync, even on our power play. The emotion of two guys leaving the team probably has an effect you can't discount. On the other hand, we've seen that if we're not all working and pulling in the same direction, you can't win. And we didn't play smart enough to win."

Giguere started the game as one of the hottest goalies in the league. He had allowed only three goals in his last four games before last night, winning two by shutout including one in overtime. He posted a goals-against of 0.75 with a save percentage of .975.

Dominic Roussel opened the season battling Guy Hebert for playing time in the Anaheim net, but Giguere joined the fray after being called up from the American League in January. Giguere and Roussel played so well that Hebert became expendable and ended up with the New York Rangers.

But Giguere is no overnight sensation. He was originally drafted 13th overall by Hartford but played only eight games for the Whalers. He was traded to Calgary and then Anaheim and had played only 30 games before this season, a figure he may top before this campaign is over. Last night was his 24th appearance.

Anaheim scored a goal in each of the first two periods, but it could have been worse for the Caps. Washington constantly dodged the bullet. A lucky bounce usually kept the puck out of harm's way when the Ducks were on the doorstep.

Defensively, Anaheim did not give Washington much of a chance. The Caps had a ton of shots but most were from another ZIP code as the Ducks kept the slot area pretty clear. Available rebounds were far and few between.

And it made no difference who was on the ice. Peter Bondra had more linemates last night than a square dancer as Wilson shuffled personnel with almost every shift. The high-scoring wing would be on the right for one shift, on the left on the next. If he was confused he didn't show it, nor did the Ducks.

The game was less than two minutes old before Samuel Pahlsson ripped a 40-foot wrist shot over Olie Kolzig's left shoulder. Nearly four minutes into the second period Tony Hrkac took advantage of a variety of errors by the Caps to hammer a drive past Kolzig.

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