- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 16, 2003

What the end result would be was clearly visible long before it came to be.
The New York Rangers got a goal off a rebound 1:58 into overtime last night and were rewarded with a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals at MCI Center.
The win gave the Rangers their first three-game winning streak of the season, but for the Caps, their streak of games without a loss in regulation reached 14, 8-0-4-2, 22 out of a possible 28 points. The club record for consecutive games without a loss in regulation is 14 twice in the early '80s.
Joel Bouchard got the goal when he backhanded a rebound past Olie Kolzig with Mark Messier tying up defenseman Brendan Witt, who might otherwise have had a chance to prevent the shot.
"A bad line change cost us a game," said coach Bruce Cassidy. "To me, that was a November game for the Caps. We took a step backwards. You could see it coming. When a team gets on a roll and plays well, it wins for a reason. You could see it in the New York [Islanders game Monday]. I'm not disrespecting the other guys; we had some individual efforts the other night and special teams were good all around.
"Tonight it's starting to catch up to us. We'll address that, we did behind the bench and at the end of the game, but I think it's human nature, guys lose a bit of the urgency. We just have to make sure it doesn't become habitual again."
Washington scored first (for the ninth time in its last 10 games), and it looked like the magic of the previous two games was intact. Less than two minutes after the game started, Michael Nylander took a bad-angle shot from the left side, got his own rebound and circled behind Mike Dunham's cage. He curled into the right circle, spotted Kip Miller and fired through the crease where the left wing looked positively lonely. Nylander rifled a pass through the slot, and Miller hardly budged while redirecting it past the goalie.
Jaromir Jagr got a second assist on the goal to give him 12 points in his last three games.
"They played good," Jagr said. "I used to love to play against them; now they're a different club. But I think we were tired, too, no legs. We knew it was going to come, sooner or later."
For the next 10 minutes, Washington had adequate opportunities to put the game out of reach. It did not do so, Dunham being the main reason.
New York finally broke through on a shooter's goal. Matthew Barnaby passed from low on Kolzig's right across to the right point, where defenseman Tom Poti teed it up. He got everything behind the blast as the goalie tried to go from one side to the other, but the puck glanced off the inside of the right post and into the netting at 15:36.
Washington looked like the October, early November Caps in the second period, playing the Rangers more or less evenly but at times embarrassing itself. During its only power play, Washington barely escaped allowing a shorthanded score while playing very sloppy hockey; the Caps had much better luck killing two penalties.
Washington's best chance in the second came just before the end. The Rangers turned the puck over on the blue line while on a power play, and Mike Grier was on the loose puck in an instant. He went in alone on Dunham but shot into the goalie's pads.
"Some nights you're going to play well and get nothing, so we'll take the point, go back to work tomorrow and address it," Cassidy said. "I think it was good after the game, some guys said some things and it shows we may be maturing well, not maybe, it shows we are maturing as a team,"
Notes The Caps close out their four-game home stand (longest of the season) tomorrow night against Toronto. Then it's on to Ottawa to play the top-rated team in the league, then on to Boston for a Monday afternoon game against the struggling Bruins.
Washington continues to have no medical scratches. Healthy scratches last night were left wings Ivan Ciernik and Josh Green and defenseman J.F. Fortin. Fortin has played only three times since Dec.14 (some of that time was spent on a conditioning assignment in Portland, Maine) and was a coaching scratch for the seventh straight game.



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