- The Washington Times - Friday, December 12, 2003

The honeymoon period for new coaches in the NHL is generally 10 games where the players try to play better than they had been playing, which was usually a factor in the previous coach losing his job.

Glen Hanlon is 1-0 for his honeymoon period and 1-0 as the Washington Capitals’ newest coach after a sloppy 6-5 victory over the struggling Boston Bruins last night at MCI Center.

Dainius Zubrus scored on a penalty shot at 14:48 of the final period to give the Caps a two-goal lead, but that wasn’t the winner. The deciding goal came from Jeff Halpern at 18:36, his third of the season but first since Nov.4, and the Caps needed every goal available.

The victory illustrated almost every hole in the Caps’ system this season. Their collapse dropped the team 10 games below break-even for the first time since the team’s expansion dark ages.

The Caps were outplayed, outshot and outhustled as Boston dominated everything but the scoreboard and nearly took control there, too, with two goals in the final 62 seconds.

“It was a fun night,” said Hanlon, who was named coach Wednesday to replace Bruce Cassidy. “The players were sharp; we were trying to make sure we had the right people on the ice. The guys did a real good job. We’ll take a win. People complain about a lack of scoring. Well, they can’t complain about that tonight.”

Zubrus got the penalty shot when Boston goalie Andrew Raycroft threw his stick making a stop during a large scrum in front of his cage. On the penalty shot, Zubrus came straight down the middle and lifted a shot over Raycroft’s right shoulder from 12 feet in front of the net.

“We’re not very happy with the way we ended the game, but we’re happy to get a win,” the center said.

For starters, it wasn’t pretty. Just 2:19 into the game the Caps turned the puck over causing a 2-on-1 with rookie Steve Eminger the lone defender. Mike Knuble’s shot from the left side trickled through Eminger’s legs and into the net.

Boston then committed two penalties within 45 seconds, and the Caps were up two men. Peter Bondra lifted his 11th goal into the top shelf on the first half of the penalties, and Jaromir Jagr slammed his 11th into the right corner a minute later for a 2-1 lead.

Matt Pettinger made it 3-1 at 6:37, driving Felix Potvin from the cage, when his shot made it through the goalie’s legs. Dan McGillis brought Boston back within one when his unscreened long-distance shot eluded Olie Kolzig halfway through the period.

Bates Battaglia’s first goal since March20 and first as a Cap made it 4-2 five minutes into the second, but Martin Lapointe made it a one-goal game again three minutes later on a power play as the Caps’ game slowly began to disintegrate.

Starting 14 minutes into the first period, the Caps took five straight penalties, keeping themselves at a disadvantage five times within 27 minutes. The Bruins converted only one of the power plays but dominated territorially and had a lopsided 14-5 shooting advantage in the second period.

Zubrus scored with Halpern adding his goal with 1:24 to go. Then Boston came back with a pair, ageless Ted Donato scoring at 18:58 and Travis Green at 19:58.

Notes — Jagr has points in 15 of his last 16 games, and Bondra has four goals in his last six games. … Zubrus broke a three-game pointless streak assisting on Jagr’s goal in the first. …

Right wing/enforcer Stephen Peat was Washington’s only healthy scratch last night as the injury list continues to grow. Defenseman Brendan Witt joined the list with an undisclosed “upper body” injury. Witt had missed two games earlier in the season with a facial injury. Also out last night were defenseman John Gruden, whose groin injury has officially been changed to a concussion; wing Ivan Ciernik, bruised foot; backup goalie Sebastien Charpentier, hip, and center Michael Nylander, broken leg. Washington has now lost 94 man-games to injury through 29 games; the club lost only 111 last season in 82 games. …

Defenseman Dwayne Zinger, called up from Portland, Maine, with Witt out of the lineup, made his NHL debut. He and Boston left wing Doug Doull, also making his NHL debut, were involved in an entertaining fight in the second period.

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