- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 29, 2002

RALEIGH, N.C. It wasn't the same Carolina lineup you remembered from last season's Stanley Cup finals, not even close. But it was a win, finally, and after three straight preseason losses the Washington Capitals weren't about to give anything back.
Washington broke into the victory column last night, thumping the Hurricanes 6-1 to go 1-3-0-1 in preseason, new coach Bruce Cassidy's first victory at the NHL level.
"I think our guys were tired of losing, to tell you the truth," Cassidy said. "They worked hard this week, and you could see it coming. I thought the Dallas game was a lot better, practice [Friday] was sharp. It's been a good week for us."
Olie Kolzig went the distance for Washington on goal and could not be faulted for a first-period power play rebound that got behind him. But he was rarely in trouble against a Carolina lineup dotted with names soon to be axed from the parent roster.
With Kevin Weekes down with a groin problem, Arturs Irbe tended the Carolina nets for the second night in a row and did not look as sharp as he has in some games against the Caps. He played only two periods.
While the end result was successful for the Caps, there were some stubbed toes en route. For instance, Washington will have to develop into one of the best penalty-killing teams in history if the current trend continues. The club took five minors in the first period, and the regular Carolina lineup might have turned those chances into more than one goal.
The Caps have been taking inopportune penalties with abandon so far Philadelphia scored four power play goals in one game against Washington a tendency that could wipe out gains in other areas.
Peter Bondra scored three times for Washington, with Glen Metropolit, Jason Doig and Kip Miller contributing one apiece. Kolzig was among those recording assists.
"The goals are coming, I think we're coming together as a team, the [new] system is starting to work, we're more in sync with the guys all thinking the same way," said Bondra. "And we played 60 minutes, pretty much the whole game."
The Caps took a bench minor in the first period, their fourth bench penalty in five games. Defenseman Brendan Witt rejoined the team after spending most of the week with his ailing wife. The Caps are off today. They practice at the crack of dawn tomorrow, then take part in the annual alumni charity golf tournament at Bethesda Country Club. They play Pittsburgh on the road Wednesday, play host to Carolina on Friday and face the Flyers in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon to conclude the exhibition season.
Any developments in the Andrei Nikolishin-Dainius Zubrus stalemates? Nope, said general manager George McPhee. Center Jeff Halpern didn't skate yesterday and has yet to appear in one of the team's preseason games. He has recovered nicely from knee surgery but has a groin problem that won't heal. With Halpern, Nikolishin and Zubrus unavailable, the team is running awfully short up the middle.

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