|ReCap: Capitals @ Oilers by: Mike Smuland March 16, 2002|
|Tommy Salo, former Capital Anson Carter and the Edmonton power play proved the difference tonight as the Capitals sank into another early goal hole and couldn't climb their way out. As in their game less than a week prior in D.C., Edmonton built a first period 2-0 lead and this time they were playing for keeps.
Poor defensive positioning in the crease hurt Washington on its first two penalty kill situations. Anson Carter scored easily 3:24 into tonight's contest after establishing himself in front of goalie Craig Billington who got the nod tonight for Washington. Sergei Gonchar drifted ahead of Carter and to his right; Carter took a pass from his left, turned and flipped an easy shot past Billington.
Soon after, Washington went on a power play of its own that saw Edmonton generate as much offense as the Caps, including a pair of clear two-on-one breakaways.
Carter, trying to turn the tables on Peter Bondra with a hat trick of his own, got his second of the night on the next Edmonton power play. This time Brendan Witt was the victim, floating in the crease ahead of Carter and allowing for an easy deflection goal off Janne Niinimaa's blast from the blue line. Just like that the Washington was victimized for two PP goals on consecutive nights and Carter had set his personal career best with 25 goals.
For the next twenty-five minutes, both teams played a bit of chess with Billington and Salo keeping things tight, despite the fast ice at Skyreach Centre. Salo was particularly strong, stopping many Caps' chances from close in. He was also clearly aided by a Caps team that was bound and determined to try and score five hole.
Jaromir Jagr finally put the Caps on the board at 18:49 of the second period, taking the puck from the blue line and weaving across the slot in the midst of four Edmonton defenders before ripping a wrist shot over Salo's left shoulder.
That would be all the goals Washington could muster and Edmonton padded its lead with a Rem Murray goal at 11:11 of the third period. Georges Laraque pinballed through two Caps defenders and the puck ended up on a streaking Murray's stick for the easy finish. Ethan Moreau added an empty netter with one tick left on the clock.
+ Olaf Kolzig got a chance to rest his knee and ankle.
+ Jaromir Jagr continued his scoring resurgence with 13 goals in his last 20 games.
- Glen Metropolit's four game assist streak came to a halt.
- Ulf Dahlen is without a point in seven straight - a stretch during which he was demoted from the top line and benched for one period.
- The Capitals have lost three straight games heading into the trade deadline; pre-deadline play was assumed to have a large role in determining whether the Caps would stock up for a playoff run or move players with an eye toward next season and beyond.
At 10:45 of the first period, a bizarre turn of events ended in a baffling decision from the referees. Colin Forbes bumped Salo, who had frozen the puck outside of his crease. Salo immediately rushed Forbes and threw a shoulder check, promptly falling on his ass. Eric Brewer then charged Forbes and the two had an evenly matched fight.
Forbes was given two minutes for goalie interference and five for fighting. Brewer was given two minutes for roughing and five for fighting. Salo was given no penalties. The lesson from refs Brad Meier and Rob Shick? Goalies are free to attack players and apparently the instigating penalty has been replaced with roughing.
Billington used his free pass about eight minutes into the third period, shoving Jochen Hecht after he tried to free the puck in Billington's glove using his skate.
J.F. Fortin rode the bench in favor of Rob Zettler who had sat out thirteen straight games as a healthy scratch. Fortin is reported to have minor bumps and bruises... Matt Pettinger was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game - the move could be a case of trade showcasing, as this was Washington's last game before the trade deadline Tuesday, 3PM EST.
The Pittsburgh Penguins claimed former Capital Jeff Toms off the waiver wire from the N.Y. Rangers.