- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 15, 2003

RALEIGH, N.C. In a way, it was just like last year. Carolina was playing the Washington Capitals close, overachieving if you will, and scoring just enough to pull it out.
But there were significant differences this time. The Caps this season appear to be on the way to winning the Southeast Division while the Hurricanes, Stanley Cup finalists last June, appear headed for early tee times.
Nonetheless, Carolina threw a roadblock in Washington's path last night, coming out strong from the start and continuing that play to the end to earn a 3-1 victory, its first over the Caps this season.
In fact, so badly has the season gone for Carolina that the win was only its third since Christmas, a run of 2-17-1-3, while the Caps were going in the other direction. Washington (27-22-7-3, 64 points) leads the Southeast Division by six points over second-place Tampa Bay (22-21-9-5).
"We weren't ready to play," Caps coach Bruce Cassidy said. "We had a sloppy workout [Thursday], and sometimes that's to be expected [after] a good win the other night. But we weren't ready. It's not so much being down 1-0, it's giving them the mindset they can beat you, because lately we've had their number [3-0 this season].
"If we had come out ready and showed them we meant business, it might have been a different game. They're a team that's kind of reeling, but we gave them life, they played well, they think they can beat you, and they went out and did it."
Carolina left wing Jan Hlavec scored the winner six minutes into the third, a pretty goal off a 3-on-1 break. Hlavec carried all the way and put a wrist shot from the middle of the left circle high into the top right side of the net. Goalie Olie Kolzig, who had more than given the Caps a chance to win, never had a chance.
Twelve minutes into the third, Washington's Michael Nylander twisted and turned and ragged the puck while a screen formed, then shot into a crowd in front of goalie Kevin Weekes, and the seeing-eye puck found a path into the net. It came on the Caps' 28th shot.
Washington had 31 shots on Weekes all told, but most were directed into his belly or chest protector. Rarely was he put to much of a test, and as a result he broke a personal 13-game winless streak.
The Hurricanes were making a stop at home seemingly to get laundry done. The team just returned from a five-game road swing that included stops on the West Coast and Texas, played the Caps and left immediately for games in Philadelphia and Toronto.
But it was Carolina that had the better legs right from the start. The Hurricanes didn't let the standings faze them, taking it to the Caps from the outset.
Carolina nearly went up by a goal slightly more than two minutes into the game. Jeff Daniels fired into a crowd that had gathered in front of Kolzig, and the goalie didn't get a clear view. He got a piece of the puck, but it dribbled through his legs, rolling toward the goal line. Kolzig dived and gloved it just in time.
Five minutes later, at 6:47, Craig Adams scored his third of the season. Carolina caught the Caps deep in the offensive zone, grabbed a loose puck and broke the other way on a 3-on-1. Adams carried all the way and took an excellent wrist shot from the middle of the left circle. It beat Kolzig in the top right corner, the Hurricanes' seventh shot of the game.
It was another 2:22 before Washington even got its first shot, a 45-foot wrister by Nylander that Weekes handled but with a slight degree of difficulty a trademark for the goalie, who seems to turn routine shots into adventures.
In the opening seconds of the second period, Weekes had another adventure. He was caught behind the net, and Jeff Halpern nearly got to the front of the net in time to tie it before the goalie recovered.
Five minutes later, however, Weekes was at his best. He went down to make a stop on Robert Lang and made two more before the puck was frozen.
Twelve minutes into the second, the Caps' first line put heavy pressure on Weekes and actually drove one shot through him. But the goalie did what Kolzig had earlier and stopped it just in time.
Jeff O'Neill scored into an empty net with seven seconds left for Carolina's final goal.

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