- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 24, 2002

Washington Capitals coach Ron Wilson called the result "disgusting," and there was nobody left in MCI Center to argue with him.
The Montreal Canadiens scored four times from the Caps' crease or close to it and had little opposition in doing so en route to a 5-3 victory last night. Washington's injuries also had little to do with it. Both teams are banged up, but one continued to play, realizing what is at stake.
"Throughout the game, it was pretty open in front there," said former Cap Jan Bulis, who set up the Canadiens' winning goal with less than four minutes remaining. "We had a lot of chances throughout the game, and we knew we were battling for a playoff position, battling the team we're fighting for the playoff spot. It was a four-point game. We kept coming back, and it was probably the most important game of the year for us."
Montreal never led until former Cap Joe Juneau put the Canadiens up at 16:37 of the third. Juneau was wide open as he passed through the crease at arm's length in front of Olie Kolzig. He then casually backhanded a rebound past the diving goalie, and it was curtains, the lack of defense producing the predictable result.
"We played well enough to win, yet committed some very elementary mistakes in our own end, and [that] resulted in goals against at key times, the second half of the third period," Wilson said. "If you want to consider yourself a playoff team or if that's what your goals are or if you consider this a playoff game, that's not the way you play it. You have to be poised and get the job done in your own end late in the game when you are winning."
Wilson stated before Christmas that the playoff season already had started for his struggling team, that every game was critically important the rest of the way. Last night's contest was winnable but the overall defensive effort just wasn't there as it hasn't been many times this season.
"They took advantage of some of the weaknesses on our team, the area in front of the net, clearing [out] in front of the net, knowing where the puck is, knowing where your man is," Wilson said. "A lot of times, you will see two defensemen covering the same man. I don't know why it happens, but it happens."
Yet the Caps stayed ahead most of the game. Rob Zettler scored his first goal in 153 games to put them up the first time, then Ulf Dahlen, then Matt Pettinger 3:21 into the third period. Then it was payback time for some former Caps. Richard Zednik tied the game three minutes after Pettinger scored, followed by the Juneau-Bulis collaboration.
"The unfortunate part is when you have so many injuries you can't bench anybody," Wilson said. "What do you do? If you sit somebody, nobody is there to play. At some point, we'll get a bunch of healthy bodies back. But it's defense. It's not about scoring more goals; it's about stopping the other team from scoring. To allow Montreal to score four goals [the fifth was an empty-netter] against us, it's disgusting, it really is. They shouldn't score two. We've got to do better defensively."
For Juneau, a player who shines during playoff season, it was his first game-winner of the season, but it was satisfying to come against his old team.
"It was nice to come back three times that shows a lot of character," Juneau said. "We need efforts like Zed's, who stayed with it and scored after he was checked pretty good by [Brendan Witt]. It takes everybody contributing to beat good teams, and we got that tonight."

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