|ReCap: Stars at Capitals by: Matt Witting March 12, 2002|
|You can't say that the Capitals didn't have a chance in this one. Throughout the game Washington generated quality scoring chances but failed to bury them often enough to stave off the desperate Dallas Stars. Special teams, goaltending and neutral zone play made the difference in the game.
As usual, the Caps fell behind early when Dallas tallied a power play goal at 7:03 of the first. Derian Hatcher fed Sergei Zubov at the point and he unleashed a slapper into traffic. Olie made the first save and the puck looked to be contained in a scrum until Darryl Sydor slipped in from the point, collected the loose biscuit and slipped a backhander past Kolzig for a 1-0 Dallas lead. The Caps looked to settle down after the goal, but 10 minutes later Jere Lehtinen again collected a rebound uncontrolled and beat Kolzig high for a 2-0 Stars advantage.
Washington halved the defecit late in the first off of some great forechecking. Kucera pinched up in the offensive zone, collected a pass and circled behind the net. He fed Steve Konowalchuk right on the doorstep, but Stevie K flubbed the shot. On a good break for the Caps, he set up Khristich at the other post perfectly and Dmitri lifted the puck over a sprawling Belfour.
The second period was back and forth with neither team generating much in the way of good chances until the 16:41 mark. On what looked to be an innocuous play, Joe Nieuwendyk collected a loose puck along the left boards, slipped his defender and sent a pass to Sergei Zubov at the point. Zubov, wide open, waited for his team-mates to completely screen Olie Kolzig and fired the puck top shelf to re-gain a 2 goal lead.
The third period just didn't have the intensity the Caps needed. They pressed, but Dallas was too strong on defense, stacking the blue line and beating the Caps to their dump ins. Washington gained a glimmer of hope when, at 9:03, Simon, Nikolishin and Gonchar kept the puck cycling down low. Simon sent the puck in front from the end boards where Gonchar and Niko were waiting. Gonchar was held up by his defender, but Niko managed to slide the puck back to a waiting Kenny Klee and set a screen. Klee wound up and let loose a low, hard bullet through traffic beating the hapless Eddie Belfour for his 6th goal on the season.
That was as close as the Caps would get, though, as they were unable to capitalize on a power play one minute later. Steve Konowalchuk then hit Brendan Morrow with a blatant high stick (which should have disqualified him from 3 Star contention, but didn't) and was assessed a double minor at 12:23 of the third. Washington killed the first two minutes handily, but Morrow got his revenge in the second half of the PP when he collected the rebound of another Darryl Sydor shot at the left post and slipped his second chance around Kolzig. Kirk Muller then closed out the scoring with an empty netter with 33 seconds to play.
The Caps weren't out played by much in this one, and got a lot of quality chances from Bondra, Jagr, Oates and Zubrus. Belfour was good, but not great, and only made a couple of great saves in the game. Kolzig was also solid on the other end with three of the four goals coming after he'd made at least one stop. The Caps defense was not good, especially when clearing the puck and opposing players from the crease. On offense the team didn't dump and chase well, and had trouble breaking down the very effective Dallas trap. A tough loss in the last home game before the Awful Road Trip, starting Friday in San Jose.
+ Ken Klee had never scored against Dallas in his career prior to this season. In two games this year he has two goals including an overtime game winner
+ Dainius Zubrus made an earlier than expected return from his broken hand and was effective, leading all Capitals forwards in shifts with 26, and fourth in ice time at 22:21. He contributed a hit, 2 shots and was +1.
+ Despite his boneheaded penalty, Steve Konowalchuk continues to look good. He led the Caps in hits, buzzed the crease, and collected an assist on the Klee goal.
Minus Adam Oates assist streak was stopped at 11 games
Minus Colin Forbes and Dmitri Khristich combined won only 2 out of 14 faceoffs, many of them in the offensive zone.
Minus The Caps turned the puck over 20 times to the Stars 10, were 0-4 on the PP and only killed 1 of 3 shorthanded chances.
Eddie Belfour was solid in net, possibly raising his trade value if rumors of him being on the block are correct.
The next Capitals home game will be March 30th when they host the Islanders.