|ReCap: Capitals @ Blue Jackets by: Mike Smuland March 23, 2002|
|Ulf Dahlen awoke from his long slumber with two goals to lead Washington to a 5-2 win, securing its first three game road win streak of the season; the Capitals also moved within two points of Montreal for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Washington made it look easy over the first thirty-nine minutes, but needed a late scoring outburst in the third to seal the victory.
Ulf Dahlen got Washington started at 6:26 on an awesome individual effort. Dahlen grabbed a loose puck along the boards at center ice, skipped into the Columbus zone, weaved across the slot and snapped a beauty past Ron Tugnutt.
Washington rode that lead for the remainder of the first period, trading chances with the persistent Blue Jackets. Olaf Kolzig continued to look alert in net and Washington was unable to take advantage of a shaky Tugnutt.
Just 0:36 seconds into the second period the Caps gave themselves some breathing room. Steve Konowalchuk passed to Peter Bondra on the goal line. Bondra skated laterally behind the goal and made a sharp pass to Andrei Nikolishin in the slot; Niko buried his chance before Tugnutt even blinked.
Fran Kucera and Peter Bondra both shot pucks off the pipe and killed back-to-back Columbus power plays over the next fifteen minutes.
The Blue Jackets took advantage of their fourth power play with the Caps unable to protect the crease shorthanded. Kolzig made two quick leg saves before Geoff Sanderson swooped in uncontested to lift the puck over Olie with just 51 seconds left in the second period.
Washington finally got its first power play at 4:27 of the third, but was held to one shot. Columbus continued to press and it was only a matter of time before the contest was tied.
Jody Shelley took two whacks at a loose puck in front, clearing it through a gaggle of legs and over Kolzig to even the match at 2 apiece. A minute later, Washington received their second power play when Jaroslav Spacek tripped a driving Dahlen, but the Capitals were again denied.
Ulf Dahlen took matters into his own hand at the 14:07 mark, one-handing the puck in front of him from behind the net. Tyler Wright tumbled to the ice and Dahlen patiently positioned himself in front of the net before sending a backhander past Tugnutt to put the Caps back on top.
Just 18 seconds later Jaromir Jagr got his inevitable point of the night. Dainius Zubrus fell to the ice, but managed to puck the puck forward; the puck ricocheted off the defenseman to a streaking Jagr and he punished the puck with a blistering shot to the upper-right corner.
Kolzig was strong the rest of the way with multiple saves over the last five minutes. Promising defenseman J.F. Fortin put the nail in the coffin with the first NHL goal of his young career on an empty net shot with twelve ticks left in regulation. Washington skated out of Nationwide Arena with a definitive 5-2 win.
+ Ulf Dahlen broke out of a long drought with his two hard-fought goals.
+ Washington's defense continued to show signs of marked improvement, led by the top unit of J.F. Fortin and Fran Kucera.
- Washington continues to face a major penalty deficit game after game.
Journeyman defenseman Patrick Boileau got the nod with Sergei Gonchar out of the line-up. Boileau was matched with Brendan Witt to make the third pair tonight...Gonchar is expected to sit out tomorrow's match against the Pittsburgh Penguins as a precautionary measure