|Recap: Canadiens at Capitals by: Matt Witting October 20, 2001|
|Prior to last night the Capitals had not won two straight games this season. Prior to last night the Canadiens hadn't given up a single power play goal nor had they lost consecutive game this season. After last night all three of those statements can be thrown out the window as the Caps won their second straight game, sending Montreal to its second straight defeat on the strength of three second period power play goals.
Coming off of a so-so road trip, the Capitals only had this one home game before hitting the pavement again for four more away from home. The team came out looking somewhat confused in the first period and, as usualy, surrendered the first goal of the game. The Canadiens were buzzing early and managed to beat Olie at 9:17 of the first to give themselves a one goal lead. Dackell fed Benoit Brunet who dropped the puck back to Patrice Brisebois. Brisebois skated to his left and shot a weak wrister through a screen of three of four players in front of the net. Kolzig never ever saw the puck and it made it's way through the maze in front and bounced through his five hole. Washington had a couple of great chances late in the first, but Jose Theodore, very solid in net so far this year for Montreal, shut the door. The Caps outshot Montreal in the first 14-8 and neither team could convert on their two power play chances. The Caps looked good on their first man advantage, but Peter Bondra ended it early with a silly boarding call while chasing the puck on a clearing attempt.
The second period was all Caps, just like in their first home game against New Jersey. They got on the board less than 70 seconds into the frame on a power play chance. Richard Zednik was sent off for cross checking at 1:05 and must have set a record for shortest stay in the penalty box when Bondra scored off of the faceoff at 1:07. Oates won the draw (of course) back to Bonzai and he let loose a "laser beam" (according to Kolzig) that beat Theodore easily. Tie game. Less than a minute later the Caps jumped out to their first lead of the night. Joe Reekie picked Joe Juneau's pocket and fired a perfect pass up to Jagr who was streaking for Montreal's goal. Jagr, slowed a little by his bad knee, split the defense and went in alone on a breakaway. He juked left, then right, the went left and lifted the puck over a sprawling Theodore for his second of the season at 1:56 of the period. The Canadiens were visibly dis-spirited and made little coherent effort to get back in the game. The Caps took advantage of their listlessness with Souray off for roughing in the sixth minute. Gonchar led the break out of the Caps zone and passed to Bondra. Bondra sped through center ice, drawing the defense, then passed left to Trevor Linden. Linden charged into the offensive zone, hesitated for a moment looking to pass, then decided to take it himself. He barely got around Stephane Quintal's outside shoulder, but then used his large frame to bull towards the net and fire the puck seemingly through Theodore, all while fighting Quintal off. It was a great move on the power play and was just the kind of powerful play that the Caps need from him. Congrats on the first goal, Trevor!
With three goals in 6:22 of the second Washington went from trailing 1-0 to a 3-1 lead, but they weren't quite done. Gino Odjick got sent to the box at 12:50 for holding Oates' stick and the Caps got their fifth power play of the game. Oates won the faceoff across to Peter Ferraro who dropped the puck back to Gonchar. Gonchar, in turn, slid the puck over to Bondra and he beat Theodore again for his second PP goal of the night and the Caps third. Despite threatening, Washington didn't get any more in the period thanks to great play by Theodore. Olie was equally solid in his end, stopping a couple of great chances by the Habs. The Caps outshot the Canadiens 12-10, were 3-3 on the PP and 1-1 on the PK.
The third period went by very quickly, in fact, there wasn't even a single whistle until the 6:43 mark of the frame. Jeff Hackett replaced Jose Theodore in net, the second time in two home games that the Caps have chased the opposing goalie. The primary excitment came when Jagr lost the puck on a power play allowing Chad Kilger to go in alone on Kolzig. Jagr chased him down but was judged to have fouled him and Kilger got a penalty shot. Kilger tried to go glove side high on Olie, but Kolzig shut down the angle and the shot went high and wide. The crowd roared and gave Olie the Goalie a standing ovation. Each team had one power play in third, but nobody scored. Kenny Klee had what was universally believed to be a goal when he received a great pass out of a scrum in front of the net and seemed to beat Hackett cleanly. The goal light went on, the players began to celebrate....and play continued. No good replays were shown, so it was impossible to see what happened.
A great home win for the Caps and a great confidence booster going into a very difficult game in Philly on Saturday. The power play is clicking, the defense is playing very well, Olie was fabulous (if he saw it, he stopped it) and the five-on-five offense looked much better as well. Bondra played on a line with Halpern and Dahlen, filling in for Kono, and looked good, although he had some difficulties at times. He'll probably be a great fit there given time to adjust. Peter Ferraro had a PP assist, just like his twin brother Chris, a healthy scratch, did against the Kings. Despite being small, the Ferraros look to be good fits with Jagr thanks to their speed and very good passing skills and awareness.