|ReCap: Capitals @ Maple Leafs by: Mike Smuland March 21, 2002|
|By trading Adam Oates, Washington has become a team; their collective effort earned a second straight road victory over the NHL's elite squads. The Caps survived a horrible first period to rally back from two down, 4-3, snapping Toronto's nine game home unbeaten streak in the process.
If the Capitals don't make it into the playoffs they will at least finish the season as a team. Jaromir Jagr earned his first four-point game as a Washington Capital (2 goals, 2 assists), missing two empty net chances in the final minute that could have given him a hat trick.
Things didn't look good early on as Robert Reichel slid the puck through traffic and between Kolzig's pads just 1:50 into tonight's contest. Toronto also got the first power play opportunity on a Gonchar interference penalty at 7:27. Gary Roberts pinged a goal-side chance off the crossbar and Washington remained within striking distance.
A deliberate high-stick by Simon brought the Leafs a brief two-minute man advantage at 11:57. This time Toronto came through 46 seconds later when Ken Klee left Gary Roberts alone in front and Brian McCabe's pass bounced off his skate and past Kolzig for a 2-0 lead. Three Washington penalty killers had tried to collapse on the puck, leaving three Leafs open in the slot and on the other side to set up the play.
Olie Kolzig overcame his shaky start and put in a highlight reel performance the rest of the way, starting with some solid saves to close out the first period. Despite out-shooting Toronto 8-6 in the first period, the Caps had zero scoring chances to four.
The second period began with wild swings up and down the ice. Kolzig had two fantastic saves in the same shift, closing the pads on Alexander Mogilny from in close and kicking out his right leg to stuff Thomas Kaberle from the far post on a Mogilny feed.
Toronto gained its third power play as Gonchar was nabbed for holding Mogilny on the play at 0:53. The Leafs were kept to the perimeter by Washington's penalty killers. Washington seemed to gain momentum, but lacked the ability to finish chances as Steve Konowalchuk jammed a great opportunity wide from the crease.
Jaromir Jagr took over the Toronto zone to get Washington on the board at 9:05. Jagr took the puck from the left of Barrasso, circled behind the net and arched to the slot where he stopped and in one motion spun toward the goal with a low shot that hit just inside the post. Just like that, Washington was within one goal.
Both teams continued to generate chances and grow frustrated with one another. Hogue got into a short skirmish with Cory Cross and Zubrus put Darcy Tucker into the Caps bench and held him there.
Toronto had two solid chances with two minutes remaining in the second, but Kolzig was up to the challenge. Olie stopped Domi's wrister from the slot, but Toronto moved the puck out and back across ice to Gary Roberts who let go a solid blast. Kolzig squared himself to the puck and snagged it out of the air with a rising glove save worthy of the highlight reel. Ulf Dahlen nearly ended the third line's scoring woes two minutes into the third, but he didn't get enough behind his shot and Aki Berg's skate blocked the open net chance. At the 3:24 mark, Fran Kucera finally earned a goal (his first since November 25, 2000) pinching into the slot and sliding a gorgeous Jagr feed under Barrasso.
Four minutes later Dainius Zubrus sprung Jagr out of the Caps' zone. Jagr raced up the left side and shot under his former teammate Barrasso from the right face-off circle for Washington's third un-answered goal and first lead of the game.
Toronto didn't stay behind for long, though, scoring just over two minutes later. Tie Domi threw the puck into traffic and Gary Roberts flipped the puck over Kolzig to knot the score at 3. The hard fought and thrilling contest took an ugly turn with 9:14 remaining when Darcy Tucker took multiple strides and left his feet - arms forward - hitting Sergei Gonchar in the head. Gonchar lay on the ice for minutes with glossed-over eyes, suffering an apparent concussion.
Zubrus went after Tucker and both players were given two minutes for roughing. Caps coach Ron Wilson was incensed that no call was given on the initial hit. Sergei Gonchar was helped to the dressing room and did not return.
Six minutes later, rookie defenseman J.F. Fortin took matters into his own hands, also leaving the ice to check Gary Roberts into the boards. Fortin and Roberts were given matching roughing calls.
Twenty-four seconds later on the ensuing 4-on-4, Jagr and Zubrus charged into the Leafs zone on a 2-on-1. Jagr calmly lifted a perfect saucer pass over the defender's stick and Zubrus buried his chance over Barrasso's stacked pads for the game-winning goal.
+ Jaromir Jagr has taken control of the Caps. The Jagr-led top line combined for nine points tonight. Jagr's two goals came on two shots. Jagr and Zubrus were both +4 on the evening.
+ Glen Metropolit earned his first multiple-point game with two assists, though he still has yet to earn his first goal this season.
+ Washington bounced back from the Avs game, matching the Leafs in face-offs all game long.
- The Capitals defense had a tendency to back into Olie instead of holding the blue line throughout the game.
- Despite starting every game, the shutdown continues to struggle with chances to convert. Ulf Dahlen is now without a point in
- J.F. Fortin will likely get suspended for his retaliation hit. On the one hand, it was a bad idea; On the other hand, leave it to the rookie to take justice into his own hands.
Benoit Hogue took Matt Pettinger's spot on the fourth line and has claimed Don Beaupre's old number 33...Stephen Peat was returned to Portland and should play Friday night in Norfolk, Virginia against a solid Admirals squad.
Washington had formally complained to the league office before tonight's game regarding the recent string of questionable officiating.