- The Washington Times - Friday, November 8, 2002

It was only a few days ago that Washington Capitals right wing Jaromir Jagr was telling teammate Jeff Halpern that he wasn't very fast. Last night Halpern had a chance to put that theory to the test.
With the score tied, overtime starting to run down and the Caps killing a penalty, Halpern came up with the puck in the Florida Panthers' offensive zone. He glanced and noticed Jagr already had made one of his wide turns and started the other way.
"Our number one priority was killing the penalty but you know he has so much talent," Halpern said. "My options were to ice it or let him kind of run over it, where it's almost like a football pass. He was saying he wasn't fast but sometimes he's his hardest critic."
Halpern chipped a pass just over the outreached stick of Valeri Bure and it fell in the neutral zone. Jagr scooped it up, with Bure tagging along and tugging at his jersey. He came in on goalie Jani Hurme, deked right, came back to the left and tucked the puck in shorthanded with 64 seconds left for a 2-1 Washington win.
Olie Kolzig picked up the victory, his first since he came back from a wrist injury. He was backed by an early goal from Robert Lang on a power play but Florida drew even early in the third when Kristian Huselius scored on a breakaway.
Had Washington lost, coach Bruce Cassidy might have opened the practice rink last night and forced his troops into that arena. The Caps scored on their first power play attempt but then practiced shooting blanks on their next five, missing some incredibly open shots.
"The wrist felt pretty good," Kolzig said. "I battled around, fell on it a couple times. It didn't give me too many problems. I handled the puck quite a bit but I think I've got to worry about the space between my legs more right about now."
Kolzig hadn't played since Oct.25 at Tampa Bay in a 3-2 loss. Three days later, during the morning skate before a game in Pittsburgh, he sprained his left wrist and missed five games, his teammates going 2-3-0. The wrist is not fully healed and probably won't be until it is surgically repaired during the offseason if the goalie decides to go that route.
Hurme wasn't ticketed to play last night for Florida but an injury put him in the game. Roberto Luongo sustained a back injury of unspecified nature late in Wednesday's 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Luongo was hurt when teammate Viktor Kozlov was pushed on top of the goalie as Mario Lemieux was scoring a goal late in the third period to tie the game and forced overtime.
Hurme, drafted by Ottawa in 1997, had appeared in only two other games for the Panthers this season, beating Dallas 3-2 in overtime on Oct.30. He earlier had played 32 minutes against Atlanta but was not involved in the decision.
Florida recalled veteran Wade Flaherty from San Antonio to back up. He had been 0-4-1 with a GAA of 4.55 for the Texas team.
Notes Defenseman Brendan Witt bruised a shoulder in the first period after colliding with Florida's Ryan Johnson and did not return. He was to be re-examined today. Luckily, the Caps are carrying eight defensemen, a move that is bound to pay off sooner or later. Center Glen Metropolit and defensemen Steve Eminger and Alex Henry were last night's healthy scratches, meaning Eminger postpones officially joining the NHL fraternity for another day. Once he plays 10 games he is credited with one year's service in the league toward pension and benefits. General manager George McPhee said yesterday he would like to keep the 19-year-old at least until Christmas and have him play for Canada in the World Junior tournament. The Caps play host to Philadelphia tomorrow night then Dallas next Wednesday.


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