- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Jaromir Jagr blasted a shot into the open right side of the net with 37 seconds left in overtime, powering the Washington Capitals to a 4-3 victory over the New York Islanders last night.

Jagr had four points for the night, two goals and two assists, to give him 11 in the past two games. The last NHL player to have 11 points in consecutive games was Jagr's former Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Mario Lemieux in November 1995.

The win moves the Caps three points ahead of idle Tampa Bay in the Southeast Division. The Caps now have points in 13 straight games (8-0-3-2).

The Isles have never won a game at MCI Center and are now 0-11-2. Washington is 22-1-3 in its last 26 games against the team that once dominated it.

The winning goal came on a rare overtime power play with Michael Peca in the box for holding Mike Grier's stick. Ironically, it was Peca who scored with less than five minutes left in regulation to force the extra period.

"I think I finally started playing my game," Jagr said. "I'm not pressing, have patience. I didn't have patience and when you're struggling you don't have patience. You try to be everywhere but you're nowhere. When you have confidence then you [can] play your game, you don't waste energy. And that's the way I'm playing right now."

Robert Lang made a series of excellent moves with the puck, drawing the opposition to him and leaving Jagr wide open. Lang then threaded a pass to the big wing and it was all over.

The Islanders took the lead in the first five minutes with some unintended help from Washington. Mattias Timander fired from the right point into a gang of people in front of Olie Kolzig. The shot hit a Washington stick and deflected past the helpless goalie at 4:36.

It took New York exactly one minute to get into serious trouble. Mark Parrish went off for tripping at 5:07 and the Islanders bench was called for too many men on the ice 29 seconds later, putting Washington up a pair for 1:31.

Washington wasted no time. The Caps fired away at Chris Osgood, forcing him to make stops four times in less than a minute, before Sergei Gonchar unloaded a slap shot from the left point that tore through the goalie's pads at 6:37, tying the game with Jagr and Robert Lang assisting.

Seconds past the halfway point of the first, Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek let a heavy shot go from the right point. It caught Kolzig square in the face, knocking the 6-foot-3 goalie down. He rebounded quickly and seconds later stoned Mattias Weinhandl, who fired a point-blank shot at the goalie.

The Caps got a wake-up call with about five minutes left in the first. Jagr, the team's charismatic leader when he is on a mission, was rudely hauled down and slammed to the ice, which probably should have been a penalty. The right wing turned, looked for a referee's arm in the air signaling a penalty, saw none, and fumed.

Seconds later the tie was broken. With the puck in his possession, Jagr fought off defender Arron Asham and then whipped a shot into the top right hand corner of the net, Osgood not moving until the puck passed at 16:02.

"I think [the officials] stopped calling the stuff they called before when you have the puck," Jagr said, referring to obstruction calls. "Somebody was holding my stick."

Less than two minutes later Michael Nylander passed cross-rink to Jagr, who instantly one-timed a pass down low to Kip Miller. Kelly Miller's younger brother casually redirected it into the net for a 3-1 lead at the first break.

New York closed to within a goal in the second when Oleg Kvasha drilled a rebound into a gaping hole in the cage.

Notes Washington had scored first in eight straight games before last night. The Caps didn't lose any of them in regulation. The Caps play host to the New York Rangers tomorrow night, Toronto Friday night and then hit the road for a pair, Saturday in Ottawa and Monday afternoon (Martin Luther King Day) in Boston. Carolina is in town on Jan. 22.



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