- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 31, 2002

At first it was downright ugly. Then it got simply ridiculous. It was Halloween Eve and probably some of the Washington Capitals wished they had brought along their masks.

The Boston Bruins ruined the Caps' homecoming party last night, and the month of October, too. The Bruins scored at will against a Washington team that at times appeared to be defenseless, its own worst enemy. The final score, Boston 7-2, does not give proper measure to how badly the Caps were embarrassed.

This was the season when veteran Capitals, to a man, vowed they wanted to make up for last season's embarrassment, missing the playoffs when that possibility seemed remote months earlier. This was the season when the veteran Capitals, to a man, vowed to get off to a better start to avoid playing from behind all season, as usual.

October. Four wins, five losses, one tie, outscored 29-21. So much for vows.

Five of the best offensive players in the league on the ice at the same time with Boston two players short for one minute, 31 seconds, against a rookie goalie playing his second NHL game. Zilch. Nothing.

The Bruins didn't need power plays to score (but they did anyway). Why bother when you can score shorthanded, which they did.

It was also the ninth straight game in which the Caps have scored two or fewer goals, tying the franchise record for such futility.

It was a night to be forgotten but the players probably won't be that lucky.

"The defense, they didn't move the puck; power play didn't score; the forwards, we had so many chances [but] we can't buy a goal; goalie doesn't make any saves; that's the whole game," right wing Jaromir Jagr said.

Craig Billington lasted 22 minutes and gave up four goals on 12 shots. He had been abandoned completely by his teammates when P.J. Axelsson scored at 1:31, and he was facing a 4-on-2 break when Rob Zamuner beat him at 8:03. He had the puck between his legs at 17:28 when his teammates let the Bruins dig the puck out, Josef Stumpel scoring. Two minutes into the second period, Brian Rolston blew a 45-foot shorthanded drive past him, and it was time for Sebastien Charpentier.

"To be honest, I felt really good [before the game]," Billington said. "There's no one more disappointed or frustrated or upset than myself. I make no excuses, I hold myself accountable."

Said coach Bruce Cassidy: "I guess we got pucks to the net so I guess offensively we had a few things going.

"We're kind of stuck right now trying to find out what is Washington Capital hockey," he said. "We're trying to let the players have some freedom to play the game and accountability but we go back and forth on it. Some nights we're pretty good; other nights we're not very accountable to one another."

Kip Miller scored Washington's first goal, a power play effort, breaking an 0-for-21 streak with the extra man. Washington was 0-for-6 for the rest of the game, getting another streak started.

Steve Konowalchuk had the second Caps goal, a backhander over rookie goalie Tim Thomas, who is with the Bruins only because John Grahame is injured. Thomas may have found himself a home.

Four minutes into the first period, the Caps had a 2-on-1 break and didn't even get a shot. In fact, the Caps' first shot didn't come for another two minutes. At 12:58 of the opening period, Thomas went to clear the puck out of his crease just as Andreas Salomonsson was flying down the slot. Thomas' clear and Salomonsson's skates came together and the puck went in, but the officials ruled no goal because it went in off a skate.

The Caps had breaks, and they made some of their own. What they couldn't do was finish, which has been the story of their season.


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