- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2003

It happened with such suddenness that it was almost mind-boggling. The Washington Capitals had a two-goal lead one minute, and less than 2-1/2 minutes later they were down by a goal. Years ago, this happened fairly regularly, but not lately.
The St. Louis Blues scored three times in a span of 2:14 and rode the momentum to a 5-3 victory over Washington last night at MCI Center. It was the Blues' eighth straight game against the Caps without a loss (7-0-1).
"No, I didn't see that coming," Caps coach Bruce Cassidy said. "I know they have the ability to do that. … There were three plays that happened, nothing spectacular, nothing awful on our part or spectacular on their part."
Nonetheless, the Blues turned a lopsided game around in seconds, tying it with a pair of goals 32 seconds apart and scoring the winner 2:14 after the first of the three went in.
"It wasn't like there was sustained pressure or anything I think they got three goals on what, four shots?" Cassidy said. "They were just plays that … on two of them, the puck had eyes. The second goal was a good goal, [Keith] Tkachuk makes a living doing that."
Tkachuk had two goals, the last an empty-netter with 29 seconds left to seal the victory. Scott Mellanby, Pavol Demitra and Al MacInnis had the other St. Louis goals.
Josh Green, Jaromir Jagr and Dainius Zubrus scored for Washington, which lost for only the third time in regulation since Dec. 14.
Washington had been dominating the game, had taken advantage of opportunities to take the lead against a very good Western Conference team and had been smothering the Blues in their end seconds before the roof fell in.
"Obviously, they picked it up, had a couple nice plays by their skilled guys," said defenseman Ken Klee. "[Tkachuk] reached over Sergei Gonchar and tipped it through, but Tkachuk's their big player. Goals are going to happen. Obviously we'd like not to have those turnovers and just keep getting it deep, keeping [pressure] on them. But we had some turnovers, kept giving them life and they battled their way back into the game."
Still, this is a Washington team that suddenly has discovered the art of scoring, and a one-goal deficit didn't appear to be impossible to overcome. It was.
"We played pretty responsibly in the third," said Blues coach Joel Quenneville. "I think they had a couple chances, but for the most part I thought we played aware of trying to shut them down."
It is hard to blame Olie Kolzig. The first goal he allowed, 16:35 into the first, came off a rebound when the Caps were down two men. Tkachuk redirected the second past him from point-blank range, Demitra's was a perfect shot by a goal-scorer and MacInnis' drive from the point in the closing seconds of the middle period wasn't even visible on TV replays.
"We just kind of let off," said Zubrus. "We were leading 3-1, we had a couple chances, I had a chance to make it 4-1 but didn't. Then they scored one goal and then jumped on us. Their good line kept going and kept going. We played pretty well in the third, we had chances to tie it up, but we didn't. We had chances to put it away, leading 3-1 if we kept our minds the same way it was in the first part of the game, but we didn't."
Notes Robert Lang had two assists to give him 14 points in 10 games. … Jagr's goal gives him seven points in his last four games. … Jagr also is 15-25-40 in 24 home games this season. … It was Mike Grier's 500th game, Michael Nylander's 600th. … St. Louis goalie Brent Johnson is now 4-0-0 vs. the Caps with a goals-against of around 0.50. … Green's goal was his first in his last 28 games.


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