|ReCap: Capitals at Hurricanes by: Mike Smuland March 10, 2002|
|Peter Bondra is back. The streaky right wing continued his recent resurgence Sunday afternoon against the Oilers, notching his 18th career hat trick and keeping the Capitals in striking distance of the playoffs.
A day that ended so well got off to a rough start as the Caps entered the first intermission in a 2-0 hole amid a smattering of boos from the home crowd. Edmonton got started just 1:13 into the game after Mike Comrie converted a Ken Klee turnover into an early lead; sliding the puck five hole on his second whack at the puck past a sleepy Kolzig.
"I was in a bit of a fog at first. The 3 p.m. (start time) changes my routine,” admitted Kolzig.
Washington registered its first shot six and a half minutes in off a mid-ice shot from Sylvain Cote. The majority of the first period took place in the neutral zone as Washington attempted to hinder Edmonton’s superior speed.
The Oilers managed to break through at 11:54 when Todd Marchant took a feed from Jochen Hecht and calmly wristed the puck past Kolzig.
Peter Bondra earned the Caps a last minute power play after being hauled down by Moreau, but Adam Oates - open in the slot - couldn’t handle a crisp pass from Jagr.
Bondra continued to apply pressure to begin the second period. Despite being absolutely mugged behind the Oiler’s net, merely two feet from a ref, he continued to press until he got his first of the night.
As the Washington power play ended, Adam Oates fed Sergei Gonchar at the point. Gonchar winded up for a slapshot twice in succession - pulling Grier to the ice - before sending a pass across the slot to Bondra in the lower circle. Bondra lifted a one-timer over Tommy Salo for his 31st of the season at 1:17.
Bondra notched his second of the night on a thrilling breakaway initiated by an equally impressive assist from Glen Metropolit who had just been taken LW Chris Simon’s place on Bondra’s opposite wing. Off a Kolzig save, the puck rose high into the air. Metropolit followed the falling puck to the Washington blue line and one-timed a perfect pass to Bondra, splitting the defense, just as rubber met ice.
Bondra didn’t hesitate, keeping his head down and charging forward in a sprint toward Tommy Salo. Salo showed good patience, but opened up considerably for an easy five hole shot and Bondra’s 32nd of the season at 13:14.
A few minutes later, Joe Sacco and Steve Staios tangled in a slow motion fight that saw Staios pause to talk to the linesman before whiffing badly on consecutive roundhouse punches.
Coach Wilson’s line juggling continued to pay dividends in the third period when Dmitri Khristich - promoted to third line center - notched his sixth goal of the season at 4:16. Khristich eluded his stumbling defender, collected a pass from Ken Klee and lifted a backhander over a flopping Salo.
After a tense series of play in front of the Capitals net - which saw former Capital Anson Carter clear the cross bar on an open net chance - Bondra completed his first hat trick of the season with just 1:34 remaining in regulation.
Leading an odd-man rush down the ice, Bondra stared down teammate Brendan Witt and faked a pass his way before whipping a wrist shot past Tommy Salo.
+ J.F. Fortin continued his rapid development with solid positioning, great poise with the puck and relentless checking. He also got his second NHL point in as many games, with a secondary assist on the final goal.
+ After a weak first period, Olie Kolzig was solid in net by playing his game - patient, positionally strong goaltending.
+ Adam Oates continued his eleven game scoring streak.
Minus Jaromir Jagr went pointless, despite his continued strong skating…
Minus Coach Ron Wilson benched Ulf Dahlen in the third period, saying after the game “If you’re sleeping on the bench, I’m not going to wake you up.”
Patrick Boileau was recalled from the Portland Pirates and was on the ice for the pre-game skate, but did not play.
Salo continued a streak of poor performances following the embarrassing goal he allowed vs. Belarus in the Winter Olympics.