- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2003

BOSTON — Nearly a quarter of the way into the season, the Washington Capitals still are seeking their first winning streak. Last night the NHL-leading Boston Bruins scored twice in the first 13:01 and held on for a 3-2 victory over the Caps at FleetCenter.

Washington (5-13-1), which had not played since edging Carolina 2-1 Saturday, has yet to win when giving up more than one goal and is 1-10-1 when its opponent scores first. The Caps haven’t had as few as 11 points this deep into a season since 1981-82, the year before they began a streak of 14 consecutive playoff appearances.

“We went power against power and our big guns got outplayed early, but they bounced back and gave us a chance to win,” Caps coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Our last 40 minutes were pretty good for our team on the road. If we were a confident club and we were winning, we probably would have found a way to not squeeze our sticks and get that tying goal.”

Jaromir Jagr broke up Boston rookie Andrew Raycroft’s shutout at 18:34 of the second period, taking a feed from Kip Miller and firing a shot that caromed off Bruins defenseman Nick Boynton and then the ice before finding the net to cut the Bruins’ lead to 2-1. The goal, Jagr’s sixth, extended his scoring streak to six games (two goals, six assists).

After Martin Lapointe made it 3-1 at 13:34 of the third period, defenseman Sergei Gonchar drew the Caps back within a goal 26 seconds later by rocketing his second of the season over Raycroft’s glove on power play assists from Jagr and Robert Lang.

Lang raised his career-high scoring tear to 10 games (seven goals, nine assists). Jagr just missed on a good chance in the final seconds after the Caps had pulled goalie Olie Kolzig.

However, Lang’s 10 goals are one better than the combined output of Washington’s other healthy forwards, except for Jagr, Dainus Zubrus (seven) and Peter Bondra (six).

“With the exception of the one line, guys are struggling to find their offense,” Cassidy said. “At some point, we’re going to need our other lines to contribute offensively. Every team does. If they were creating and not scoring, you look the other way. They have to put a little bit of an onus on themselves to create and see where that leads us.”

Washington had won two of its past three games with Kolzig allowing one goal in each victory. Last night the 2000 Vezina Trophy winner displayed quick reflexes in stopping Glen Murray’s snap shot from the slot 2:02 into the action.

However, after Kolzig thwarted Hal Gill’s shot from the left point a little more than three minutes later, his teammates couldn’t clear the zone. Ian Moran got the puck back to Gill in the same spot.

Again, Kolzig made the save on the long shot but gave up the rebound. This time, Mike Knuble beat Lang to the loose puck and tucked it into the open left side of the net at 5:17.

After the Caps had surrendered one shot during a slashing penalty to Jeff Halpern at 8:34, Bruins captain Joe Thornton passed the puck to Murray streaking ahead of Gonchar. Murray’s shot from the right circle seemed to surprise Kolzig as it soared past his glove and into the net at 13:01.

“We couldn’t handle their big guys down low,” Jagr said referring to Murray, Knuble and Thornton, who average 6-foot-3 and 223 pounds. “They’re not the fastest skaters, but sooner or later they’re going to score.”

Washington’s No.1 line of Jagr, Lang and Miller and the top defensive tandem of Gonchar and Brendan Witt were on the ice for both of Boston’s first-period goals.

Halpern’s hustling charge to the net drew a hooking penalty on Moran 25 seconds into the second period, but Washington’s power play had all the life of a dead fish. A second power play at 5:56 had more energy but didn’t produce a single shot until Lang’s hooking of Moran ended the advantage 16 seconds early.

Jagr’s goal didn’t provide the Caps with any momentum as they tested Raycroft once in the first half of the third period. And just as Washington was about to go 4-for-4 on the penalty kill — this one after an elbowing call on Jason Doig — Boston rookie Patrice Bergeron drove to the net and dished the puck across the crease to Lapointe. The veteran redirected it at Kolzig, who fumbled it into the net as if it were a hot potato.


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