- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 28, 2001

UNIONDALE, N.Y. In a game where defense obviously took a back seat to everything else, the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders see-sawed back and forth and settled for a 5-5 overtime deadlock.
The tie keeps Washington's unbeaten streak against the Islanders alive, reaching 20 (17-0-3) games. To show that most things even out, the Caps began their NHL lives by failing to win in their first 18 games in the Islanders' Nassau Coliseum.
Dainius Zubrus had given the Caps what seemed to be the winning margin when he was credited with a goal at 17:21 of the third period, Andrei Nikolishin's shot from the right boards glancing off the wing's right leg and past goalie Chris Osgood.
But with 47 seconds left in regulation, Mariusz Czerkawski tried to center the puck from behind Craig Billington's net. The puck hit the goalie's left arm and glanced behind him, into the net, sending the game into overtime.
The game started in such great fashion for the Caps they scored three goals in just more than five minutes, connecting on every other shot.
Sergei Gonchar started the barrage at 7:13 when he pinched and was in position to tip in Ulf Dahlen's drive, which clanged off the right post. Gonchar left the game in the second period with an injury and did not return.
At 10:13, on a power play, Adam Oates got a hold of his own rebound and put a backhander past Osgood. At 12:48, five seconds after a power play expired, Oates chipped a puck over Osgood as the center was being hooked down by Radek Martinek.
But through it all, the Caps were putting up less than a stonewall defense and the Islanders were swarming through the holes. There were several odd-man breaks, an ailment the Caps thought they had cured some time ago.
New York struck twice before the first period ended, both times on power plays, both under very similar circumstances.
The first came at 15:47 after Billington made one save but ended up prone in doing so. Alexei Yashin, one of the key offseason acquisitions, lifted a rebound over the goalie and the Islanders were on the board. The second came less than three minutes later, Billington again down after making a stop. This time Mariusz Czerkawski chipped the puck over the goalie.
The one-goal lead vanished midway through the second period with the Islanders swarming in front of Billington again 11 seconds after Washington killed a two-minute, two-man disadvantage. This time Czerkawski was credited with his second of the game when he attempted to center from the left boards only to have the puck glance off defenseman Brendan Witt's right skate and past the goalie.
But Washington regained the lead with 77 seconds left in the period, as Peter Bondra scored for the second game in a row after going six straight without a goal. Sylvain Cote shot from the left point, Osgood stopped it but Andrei Nikolishin kept it in play around the net long enough for Bondra to swoop in and rap it into the net.
Washington lost defensemen left and right and at one point in the third period had only three of six healthy. Gonchar was out, Cote had a cut near his right eye and Ken Klee limped off, leaving Frantisek Kucera, Witt and Rob Zettler.
Meanwhile, Caps coach Ron Wilson went with the same lineup he has used in the past few games, the only exception coming with Billington in goal. Olie Kolzig is scheduled to start tonight at home against the Buffalo Sabres.
The healthy scratches were right wing Dmitri Khristich for the ninth straight game and the 17th time in 24 games this season, defenseman Joe Reekie for the fifth straight game, and right wing Stephen Peat for the second straight game.
The names of two goalies Osgood and Garth Snow appear in the box score for New York. Snow was inserted into the game for just 1:06 because he is a better stickhandler and the Islanders wanted to take advantage of that during the two-man advantage.


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