- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 25, 2001

SUNRISE, Fla. Peter Bondra took a pass from Andrei Nikolishin early in overtime last night, zipped into the Florida zone and looked for a friendly shirt to pass to. The only dark jerseys still on the ice were headed for the bench, so Bondra did what he does best.
He zeroed in on Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo and whipped a puck past him 45 seconds into the extra period to give the Washington Capitals a 4-3 overtime victory and three out of a possible four points in Florida during the past 48 hours.
More than anything, however, the game may have been an indication of what might lie ahead for the Caps. Bondra now has nine goals in 10 games and last night, for perhaps the first time this season and certainly for the first time since he was injured Oct. 10, Jaromir Jagr looked like the forward Ted Leonsis shelled out bundles of money for.
Jagr was on the edge all night, lurking at the edge of the circles or around the crease or dancing around on the perimeter with the puck, trying to spring somebody for a scoring chance. He darted here and there, made passes he hadn't even attempted since leaving Pittsburgh. Indeed, he looked like a $78 million man.
And he came through. He scored the goal that tied the game 3-3 early in the third on a play that left Luongo shaking his head. Jagr got behind the defense, and Ulf Dahlen found him with a perfect headman pass. Jagr came down against Luongo but didn't shoot. He stopped at the crease, the goalie waited, and the huge wing just wrapped the puck around the goalie and into the net.
"He gets a little bit healthier and of course he's going to be a dominant player," said coach Ron Wilson. "He's finding people he's comfortable with, definitely."
Last night the big right wing played with center Jeff Halpern and Dahlen playing on the left side.
Nikolishin, himself on a tear with four goals already and one in each of his last three games, and Bondra had scored earlier to help the Caps get out of a terrible 2-0 hole they dug for themselves in the first three minutes. Olie Kolzig did play a shot by Kristian Huselius very well at 1:52 and then played Viktor Kozlov's shot at 3:04 very badly, and Washington was looking at a blowout before butter melted on the popcorn.
"I was glad to see the guys battle back. This was a big character win, our second game in two nights," Kolzig said. "Being down 2-0 early to a desperate team, this is a big character win."
While Kolzig the goalie kept his team in it the rest of the way, Kolzig the realist knew where the win had to come from.
"That's exactly why we got him," Kolzig said of Jagr, "either to break the game open or to help us battle back. Bondra has done it time and time again the last two years and did it again tonight. Jagr's play first off, it was a great pass by Dahlen that's why he gets paid 11 million bucks for that move. I'm definitely glad he's on our side."
It was Washington's eighth game on the road this season against just two at home, and the Caps are 5-4-1 with two games left in October, tomorrow night in Atlanta and Tuesday night at home against Philadelphia.
"We're gradually finding our game, there's more defensive awareness as far as where everybody is and what their role is, I mean it just slowly comes together," Wilson said. "It seems like we've been on the road forever and if you include training camp, we have been. We're kind of road weary, it'll be nice to get back home."

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