- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 7, 2001

It wasn't so much that the Washington Capitals won their season opener last night to get the Jaromir Jagr era off to an im-pressive start, it was the way they defeated the New Jersey Devils 6-1 at MCI Center.
After a so-so first period, Washington thoroughly dominated one of last season's Stanley Cup finalists, getting goals from six individuals and a stifling defensive performance that limited the Devils to fewer than a half-dozen rebounds.
Goalie Olie Kolzig was outstanding, especially in keeping his team in the game during the first 20 minutes when New Jersey tried to put it away. Ulf Dahlen had a goal and two assists, and center Adam Oates set up three goals shifting between lines as coach Ron Wilson was given the opportunity to mix things up with a big lead.
"Jagr's presence makes you feel more confident," Wilson said. He also used Jeff Halpern's checking line "to soften up the underbelly" and "set the tone early in periods."
Halpern, Calle Johansson, Jagr, Sergei Gonchar and Peter Bondra had goals besides Dahlen as the Caps drove All-Star Martin Brodeur out of the crease after two periods.
"We knew they were going to start with a lot of shots off the bat," Kolzig said. "After the first period, I thought we did a good job of regrouping, closing the gap and not allowing them to come through the neutral zone with a lot of speed. Then you saw the talent take over in the second period, and if that's a sign of things to come, we're in for a great year.
"But all it is is a good way to start the season. We haven't won anything yet but everything that's been written about us so far is coming true; we do have the offense now."
The teams played a pretty even first period, rookie Josef Boumedienne scoring for the Devils, and Halpern getting every ounce of his weight behind a shot to tie the game at 16:53.
It didn't stay tied for long. Less than two minutes into the second, Johansson batted a floating puck past Brodeur to put the Caps up for good.
Then the Jagr era began. At 6:44 of the second, Oates won the draw and Dainius Zubrus took a shot that Brodeur rejected, but the rebound came to Jagr. With his long strides, he was on top of the goalie in a snap and whipped the puck under the left pad. It was his first as a Cap and the 440th of his 12-year career.
Nine minutes later, the Caps were killing off the closing seconds of a penalty when Jagr put the puck in the Devils' end. Oates got to it before the defenders could and sliced it through the crease, where Gonchar was coming in the back door. The defenseman scored easily, with Oates and Jagr assisting.
Dahlen capped the four-goal period when he put Sylvain Cote's rebound behind Brodeur on a power play, with Steve Konowalchuk taking a physical pounding as he blocked the goalie's vision.
Bondra greeted rookie Scott Clemmensen with a power-play shot the goalie never saw less than five minutes into the third, and the rout was complete.
Notes The Caps raised their second consecutive Southeast Division championship banner before the game. The sellout throng sang along with national anthem singer Tom Ballentine, who was troubled by a faulty microphone. … Linesman Gordie Broseker, a Richmond native, was injured 1:19 into the game when he was struck by a slap shot but X-rays were negative. He did not return.
When Johansson took the ice, it marked the start of his 14th season as a Cap, one more than the total seasons put in by Kelly Miller and Michal Pivonka. The Devils won't be back at MCI Center until April 13, when they close the Caps' regular season. Center Brian Sutherby made his NHL debut for the Caps.

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