- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 17, 2004

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Landon Wilson wasn’t acquired by the Pittsburgh Penguins to spark their power play, but he did just that.

A checking forward with three power-play goals in 339 previous NHL games, Wilson scored twice with the man advantage to help Pittsburgh beat the Washington Capitals 4-1 last night and push the Penguins’ unbeaten streak to six.

“I got an opportunity to get on the power play, but they had nothing to do with me,” said Wilson, who has five goals in 11 games since being acquired Feb.22 from Phoenix. “Dickie Tarnstrom made a great pass to me on the second one, and I got a lucky bounce on the first one.”

Wilson staked the Penguins to a 1-0 lead 6:31 in when his shot from the goal line to the right of goaltender Olie Kolzig bounced off Kolzig’s arm and into the net. Wilson added his second of the night with 7:48 to play when he beat Kolzig from the left circle off Tarnstrom’s perfect pass.

“I’m just trying to go out there and play hard and earn my keep,” said Wilson, who has points in five of eight games. “I’m getting a chance to play, and I’m getting [scoring] chances, and when that happens some of them are going to go in.”

Mike Eastwood and Matt Hussey, playing his first NHL game, also scored for the last-place Penguins, 5-0-1 in their last six games and 7-2-2 in their last 11. Pittsburgh, unbeaten in four home games (3-0-1) after enduring a 16-game home winless streak, climbed within five points of Washington in the overall standings.

The rebuilding Caps, whose only goal came from Alexander Semin, have lost eight of nine and four straight on the road.

“We’re in a rebuilding stage, and let’s face facts. It’s not going to be an easy year or two years,” Washington defenseman Brendan Witt said. “It’s a little tough right now because no one likes to lose. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my whole hockey life.”

After Wilson’s fifth goal of the season gave Pittsburgh the lead, Eastwood made it 2-0 with 53.5 seconds left in the period when he deflected Ric Jackman’s shot from the right point past Kolzig for his fourth goal.

“He has been a tremendous pickup,” Penguins coach Ed Olczyk said of Wilson. “We like to see solid individuals get an opportunity to play. He has been in the league a while, and he has the experience.”

Hussey, an emergency recall from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League earlier in the day after Aleksey Morozov developed a sore back, fired a backhander past Kolzig on his first shot at 8:07 of the second period to make it 3-0.

Hussey participated in a game-day skate with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton yesterday in preparation for a game against Philadelphia.

“We had just finished the skate, and the coach called me into his office,” Hussey said. “I had no idea what it was about, and I was pretty shocked and excited at the same time. I just wanted to play hard in the system and try to do my best. The goal — that’s an extra.”

Just 1:28 after Hussey’s goal, Semin beat goaltender Sebastien Caron from the left circle on the power play after taking a pass from Josef Boumedienne at the right point.

“We’re getting behind the eight-ball and playing catch-up all the time,” Washington’s Brian Willsie said. “It’s kind of embarrassing because we’ve got a capable team here, and it just comes down to effort and hard work.”

Notes — The game was the first of three between the teams in a 20-day span. … The Caps have allowed a power-play goal in 11 of 12 games. … The Penguins have scored a power-play goal in seven consecutive games. … Pittsburgh’s Milan Kraft extended his scoring streak to five games (2-7-9) with an assist on Wilson’s goal.

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