- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 6, 2002

COLUMBUS, Ohio It would have been a great story line had the Washington Capitals been playing in Florida last night, winning on a recount, but it was Ohio and all that mattered to the Caps was that they won.
Peter Bondra went from potential goat to hero, powering the Caps to a 4-3 overtime victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Washington regained the .500 level at 6-6-1; the Jackets fell to 5-6-1.
Bondra lifted a shot high into the top of the net after newcomer Michael Nylander had done a superb job keeping the puck alive, fighting off defenders and waiting for Bondra to get into position.
"Actually, Sergei [Gonchar] and Bondra collided in the neutral zone, so I had to wait and be patient," Nylander said. "I went to the net, went around the net. and [the Jackets] collapsed and I knew Bondra was on the far post. He was wide open. He made sure, he stopped the puck and had an open net. It's great. It's a great win for us."
With 16 seconds left in regulation, Bondra had taken a tripping call, the kind that seemed to be passed over on other occasions. Columbus had a power play during most of the first two minutes of the overtime but couldn't get anything going. Bondra got his chance with time expiring.
"Definitely, I was worried," said Bondra, who scored earlier. "I made a mistake; next time I will be more careful. Mike Grier got a big goal for us at the start of the third that gave us some energy. Nylander, he's got so much patience with the puck. I knew he saw me and he made sure he put the puck on my stick. I took my time, I didn't want the puck to bounce on me. It ended up to be a big goal."
Grier's first goal of the season had brought the Caps back to a tie after they had blown a two-goal lead with a bad second period. Grier, in alone on goalie Marc Denis, scooped up the rebound of Ken Klee's shot and backhanded it high into the net 17 seconds into the period.
For a while, Washington was in complete control. The Caps got a 2-0 lead by playing smart, opportunistic hockey, nothing overly physical but enough to keep everybody honest.
Midway through the first, with Columbus serving a penalty for a faceoff violation an infraction rarely called the Caps moved the puck around well. It finally came to Bondra at the top of the right circle, and he drilled a one-timer past Denis.
Just before the 15-minute mark, Caps defender Rick Berry took a roughing call, and Washington turned it into an advantage. Shorthanded, Steve Konowalchuk poked the puck free, Jeff Halpern poked it through a defender and went in. He fired a backhander through Denis' legs for Washington's first shorthander of the season.
But it apparently doesn't take much to upset the Caps' fragile psyche. Nylander was called for high sticking late in the period, and Washington was never the same. The Caps were en route to a streak of five straight penalties carrying them through the second period, and Columbus converted three of them, Washington's less than inspired play a contributing factor.
Geoff Sanderson put Columbus on the board, snapping a rebound into the left side. J.F. Fortin closed his hand over the puck early in the second, and Tyler Wright ripped his own rebound into the net to tie the score.
Midway through the second, Jaromir Jagr and Wright became involved in a minor altercation, and Berry came to Jagr's aid. All three got minors.
It took the well-traveled Ray Whitney 41 seconds to find the range. Positioned in the middle of the ice along the blue line, Whitney shot what appeared to be a very stoppable, unscreened shot that Sebastien Charpentier either did not see or simply missed. That boosted the Jackets into a 3-2 lead.
Notes
Steve Eminger and Glen Metropolit were healthy scratches for the second straight game; defenseman Alex Henry also was a scratch. Goalie Olie Kolzig practiced yesterday and is scheduled to work out today after the Caps return. No quick decision is expected on his return to action.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide