- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 13, 2002

UNIONDALE, N.Y. The one factor that cost the Washington Capitals perhaps more victories than any other last season was penalty-killing, or the complete lack thereof.
The Caps dug themselves another penalty-filled hole last night against the New York Islanders, but for the second night in a row they were able to dig themselves out.
In fact, Washington scored a power play goal of its own with less than five minutes left and overcame a stubborn Islanders team 2-1 to win its second in as many tries this season at the start of an eight-game road trip. But it didn't come without a lot of tension.
Washington was outshot by a 3-1 margin most of the night the final tally was 36-14 and it took a lot of brilliant work on the part of goalie Olie Kolzig to keep the Caps within reach, especially when New York had a 16-3 edge in the first period.
"It was our first back-to-backer, we got in late Friday night, we were tired, it was the Islanders' home opener and they had a lot of jump and we survived in the first period," Kolzig said. "And that was the difference."
No, the difference was penalty-killing.
Washington, which took 10 penalties in each of its first two games, has killed 14 of the 17 power play opportunities the opposition has had. New York's only goal last night came late in the first period when Alexei Yashin ripped a shot high into the top right shelf with the man advantage.
"You're on the road, you need goaltending, you need special teams, and you always seem to kill a little more on the road than you do at home," Caps coach Bruce Cassidy said. "Tonight some of the calls went against us, and we killed them. I could get used to that. Our guys were a little maligned [against Nashville in Friday's opener], but they're hard-working guys."
Jeff Halpern's checking unit, with Steve Konowalchuk and Mike Grier on wing, seemed to be on the ice every other shift as it tried to kill penalties or spell the first two units.
"That line was assigned a tough job whenever we could get them out against a top offensive line, especially Yashin's," Cassidy said. "Other than the power play goal they got, I didn't think [Yashins line] was dominating at all. Maybe he said something as the captain that put us over the top, I don't know."
The second period was getting old by the time the Caps got around to tying the game. With an extra attacker on the ice on a delayed penalty, Peter Bondra nailed a shot that goalie Chris Osgood knocked down and out. The rebound came deep into the crease, from where Glen Metropolit chipped it back in and over the goalie.
Overtime was looming when Washington was awarded back-to-back power plays. Nothing happened on the first, but the Caps kept buzzing. Finally, defenseman Calle Johansson took a shot from the slot but topped it, the puck dribbling off to the right. It came to Jaromir Jagr who got it under Osgood, and the goalie knocked it in trying to stop the shot.
"I liked our second effort after the first period," Cassidy said. "The guys started to play, and you could see it. Jagr wanted the puck and to be the go-to guy and you need that your best players have to rise to the occasion."
Notes Clip and save: It may never happen again. Before last night's game, Washington enforcer Stephen Peat had more goals (one) than penalty minutes (zero). Defensively he was plus-1, which was more than six other Caps could say. When the JumboTron put up the partial score Pittsburgh 4, Rangers 0, the Coliseum exploded. It was even louder at 5-0. No love loss between neighbors. Mike Farrell, who played in the opener, was a scratch last night, putting Matt Pettinger in the lineup. Sylvain Cote and Rick Berry were the defensive scratches.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide