|Recap: Capitals at Rangers by: Matt Witting October 10, 2001|
| The Capitals were coming off of a loss at Boston in which they did virtually nothing right. The Rangers, with newly acquired Eric Lindros, were waiting at Madison Square Gardens ready to take advantage of any carryover of sloppy play. Unfortunately for them, the Caps learned their lesson and came out firing.
The first period was all Capitals as the Rangers, outplayed early and often, resorted to cheap shots and thuggery to keep the game close. The rough play backfired for them, however, as they were whistled for six first period penalties resulting in five Caps power plays. Washington’s power play unit, completely ineffective on Monday, made 18 year old rookie goaltender Blackburn pay for his teammates transgressions by converting their first three PP chances. The first goal was scored when Bondra fed Jagr down low on the left side. Jagr drew the defense to him and slipped the puck to Gonchar at the point who skated into the high slot and beat Blackburn stick-side low at 5:12 of the first. The power play was a result of good play by Stephen Peat. He caught Mike York with his head down while chasing a puck and leveled the little guy. Mr. Purinton, taking exception to the clean hit, came over and cross-checked Konowalchuk across the head before dropping the gloves and attacking Peat without warning. After the fight, both players got fighting majors, but Purinton also got a misconduct and a 2-minute instigation call. The second goal came in traditional Caps fashion: right off of an offensive zone faceoff. Trevor Linden won the draw, swiveled to keep his large frame between the defense and the puck, and passed back to Gonchar at the point. Gonchar let loose a laser of a slap shot, beating Blackburn glove side low for his second goal in just under six minutes. Three minutes later the Caps extended their lead to 3-0, again on the PP, when Gonchar passed to Jagr along the boards and Jagr gave the puck to a wide open Cote on the blue line. Sylvain Cote displayed the offensive talent for which he is known and blasted a terrific shot into the back of the net, through a Steve Konowalchuk screen.
A few minutes later, the Caps lost Jaromir Jagr for the remainder of the game when he was dragged down from behind while carrying the puck in the offensive zone. The Rangers player managed to both trip and tackle Jagr, resulting in Jaromir hitting the ice in a kneeling position, legs stretched out and back, then getting pulled back over his legs. He lay on the ice for several seconds, then left under his own power but did not return. Early reports are either a groin or a knee injury and no details where available. The Caps ended the first outshooting the Blueshirts 17-3, were 3-5 on the PP and killed the two Rangers chances.
The second period resembled the Boston game as the Caps tightened up, tried to force the puck and paid the price. The Rangers got their first goal only 41 seconds into the frame when Berard, courageously returning from his eye injury, collected a squirting puck behind the Caps net and fed Ciger through the crease for an easy tap in. The Caps failed to collect the loose puck, and weren’t able to maintain defensive integrity, so the Rangers got an easy goal. At 13:41 of the second New York cut the deficit to one goal on a questionable goal. With the puck in the offensive zone, Manny Malhotra took advantage of a nudge from Jeff Halpern near the goal to fall on top of Olie Kolzig and roll him into the net. While Kolzig tried to disentangle himself from Malhotra, Mark Messier fed Radek Dvorak who had the whole goal to shoot at, and didn’t miss. The Capitals showed signs of good play, and did a good job of keeping the Rangers to the outside, but were unable to keep their play up to the standards they needed. The Caps still out-shot the Rangers 14-13 and killed both NYR PPs in the second, but were unable to convert on their one chance.
The third period was a good one for Washington as they got back to responsible defense and conservative offense. Ulf Dahlen got his second goal of the year 3:56 into the frame on a strange play. Konowalchuk and Ulf were playing keep-away behind the Rangers net, and Dahlen was able to cut free for a wrap-around on the right side of the cage. Blackburn stopped the first shot, but Dahlen hit the rebound and it barely trickled into the side of the net after bouncing in the air and getting lost in the goalie’s contortions. A three minute review was needed to verify that the goal had been scored. From then on, the Caps just clamped down defensively, preventing the Rangers from getting anything going. In frustration, Igor Ulanov deliberately and viciously cross-checked a Capital in the head from the side and was whistled for a cross-checking major and a misconduct for intent to injure. A fine or suspension will be levied by the league for the hit, more than likely. With the Caps on a continuous five minute penalty with just over six minutes to go, the Rangers fans streamed out of the arena and missed Peter Bondra extending the lead to three goals only 11 seconds into the penalty. Halpern took a shot from the left circle that deflected off of Chris Simon who was screening the goalie. Displaying good skill and soft hands, Si collected the bouncing puck and slipped it to Bondra who was alone on the right side for the easy one-timer goal. After that, the Caps were satisfied to relax and play out the string. They killed off one final, abbreviated penalty to Dainius Zubrus, and left New York with a well-deserved 5-2 win. In the third, shots were tied 11-11, the Caps were 1-1 on the PP while the Rangers were 0-1.
Overall, the special teams won the game for the Caps, with some big saves by Olie Kolzig (27 shots, 25 saves). Washington was 4-7 on the PP, while the Rangers were 0-5. Dan Blackburn was very good in goal for the Rangers, but suffered from a serious lack of support. The Rangers really played a very dirty game, especially in the first period, and could have knocked Jagr out for some time. The Caps did a good job of getting back on track in all phases of the game, and are ready to head out West.
Bondra (1G-1A), Jagr (2A), and Gonchar (2G-1A) were the offensive stars of the game, while Konowalchuk got his 300th NHL point with the primary assist on Dahlen’s third period goal.