- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2003

The Washington Capitals played Washington Capitals hockey last night, the suffocating defensive style that opponents hate to face, the type of hockey everybody knows they can play. The question is, can they do it consistently?
The Caps scored a goal in each period before Olie Kolzig was victimized by a rebound he couldn't snare, and Washington went on to defeat Montreal 4-1 to end a three-game losing streak and open up a three-point lead over idle Tampa Bay in the Southeast Division race.
The Canadiens was so bottled up they didn't get their first shot on goal until 8:43 had elapsed and they were already behind by a goal.
"That's the way you're going to win in this league," Kolzig said. "We showed it tonight. We played some good defense and took advantage of the scoring chances we had. We have to realize that good defense translates into good offense, and we showed it tonight. You don't have to get 40 shots [to win]. Create some turnovers and that's the [Peter] Bondra we're used to going down the wing and putting it just inside the post. That's the way we need to play if we want to be successful."
Bondra has been in a horrible scoring slump, and his overall play suffered as a result. Last night he had a goal and an assist, as did Ivan Ciernik. Jaromir Jagr and Steve Konowalchuk had the other Caps goals.
"It's what we're looking for, what we have been looking for," coach Bruce Cassidy said when asked about consistency. "I think we can. We did it for six or eight weeks, and we picked up points on a lot of nights when we weren't at our best. Tonight we played a patient game, and it helps to score first if you're going to play patient."
The Caps never trailed. Ciernik, who entered the game with five goals, including two game-winners, was the beneficiary of a soft goal surrendered by Jose Theodore 9:08 into the game. Ciernik, a left-handed shot, came down the right side and simply put a wrist shot on goal. Theodore, last season's league MVP, extended his left arm as if to thwart the shot with his blocker, but the puck hit the shaft of his stick and glanced into the net.
Jagr attacked the net for the second goal of the night, 2:22 into the middle period. Dainius Zubrus, a former Canadien, fired a hard shot from the left side that clanged off the crossbar and bounced straight out in front. Jagr was charging down the slot and slapped the rebound back behind Theodore. Zubrus got the first assist for his 200th NHL point. Robert Lang was awarded the second assist to give him points in four straight games.
There was a point earlier in the game when Jagr limped off, favoring a leg. It happened just 90 seconds after the start with the big right wing camped in front of the Canadiens net, screening and looking for a rebound. Sergei Gonchar wound up just inside the blue line and let loose with a laser. The shot caught Jagr on the left ankle, and he hit the ice as if he had been shot. He was back in action about two minutes later.
It became a 3-0 game less than three minutes into the third when Bondra broke an eight-game streak without a goal. The goal was vintage Bondra. He wound up as he approached the left circle, came down full bore and got all of the puck. He hit the top right corner as Theodore was just starting to reach.
"Peter's going to score eventually. I think it's inevitable," Cassidy said. "He can be streaky, so let's hope he gets on one."


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