- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 2, 2003

In the Washington Capitals’ first two trips to Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., they were beaten 3-0 and 1-0 — shut out twice by an expansion team.

The Caps were not shut out last night in the third trip to the Minnesota capital, but the end result was the same. The defensively strong Wild took advantage of the offensively challenged Caps and earned a 2-1 victory.

The loss was the sixth in a row on the road for the struggling Caps and seventh game in a row without a victory. It came one night after Washington snapped a six-game overall losing streak with a 2-1 win over Atlanta.

“The players need to be more accountable for themselves and their teammates,” Capitals coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It’s ridiculous. I’m fed up with it.”

Washington’s first goal in St. Paul came two minutes into the third period, Robert Lang scoring on a power play with Dainius Zubrus and Sergei Gonchar assisting. It was Lang’s fourth of the season.

But that was it as far as Washington’s offense was concerned. A night earlier it was a similar story, generating 38 shots on goal and dozens of scoring chances but just two goals.

“We’re right back to where we refuse to shoot the puck,” Cassidy said. “I’m talking about guys with no goals, I’m not talking about Jaromir Jagr. He’s been in this league for 10 years and he knows what he’s doing with the puck. You know, the [Brian] Sutherbys, the Halpys [Jeff Halpern], the [Bates] Battaglias — who refuse to shoot the puck and they have no goals.”

Minnesota took a lead 16 minutes into the first period when the well-traveled Wes Walz was ignored by the Caps forwards, disengaged himself from rookie defenseman Steve Eminger, put a deke on Olie Kolzig and tucked the puck in behind the goalie.

Washington might have been able to tie the score but got only two shots off on goalie Dwayne Roloson, one night after putting 20 shots on Atlanta’s goal in the first 20 minutes. Washington wasn’t a lot better in the second period, forcing Roloson to make eight stops for a total of 10 in the first 40 minutes.

Midway through the second period the Caps were stung by a player who probably never should have gotten away. Andrew Brunette scored his third power play goal of the season for Minnesota, this one like most of his others — within arm’s reach of the goalie, snapping the puck home.

He was a long-time Washington farmhand who was tagged with a poor skater label and was recalled only to fill in for emergencies. He has parlayed that poor skating into a career approaching 500 games with four teams.

Actually, the Wild thought it had a 1-0 lead before the game was 30 seconds old. Pierre-Marc Bouchard wheeled around and got off a shot on Kolzig from inside the right circle, just as Brendan Witt was wrestling right wing Richard Park to the ice. Kolzig made the stop easily on Bouchard but the rebound was invitingly close to Park as he headed for the ice. He reached out with his right skate and booted it under the goalie, off the right post and into the net.

Initially, it was ruled a legitimate goal but the Caps refused to lineup for the ensuing faceoff, forcing officials to send the play to the replay booth. After approximately five minutes of video review and discussion, the goal was disallowed and nary a peep of protest from the Minnesota bench.

Notes — Left wing Matt Pettinger, who had a key goal in Friday night’s 2-1 victory over Atlanta was a scratch last night with a “minor” concussion. He was replaced by Brian Sutherby. … That left the Caps with one healthy scratch, left wing Kip Miller, who sat out for the second game in a row. … Still no word on when center Michael Nylander will rejoin the team. He has been sidelined since the first week in October with a broken right leg and has not been seen around the Piney Orchard training complex since he ran into defenseman Nolan Yonkman behind the cage. …

Washington didn’t have to face newly re-signed right wing Marian Gaborik. The Minnesota coaching staff said he was not close to game shape, and he watched from a seat in the stands. … The Caps did have to face Alex Henry, the former Cap claimed by the Wild during the waiver draft just before the season started. The Caps spent two seasons trying to convert Henry, who they claimed off waivers from Edmonton, from a defenseman to a right wing. Now Minnesota is trying to reverse that process.

cThe Associated Press contributed to this report.

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