WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Washington Capitals, who have lost more games than any
NHL team, were coming off a 7-1 defeat the night before and were missing two of
their top scorers.
Oh, and they were playing the defending Stanley Cup champion New Jersey
To make things worse, the Capitals gave the Devils eight power-play chances
in the first two periods and were trailing by a goal going into the third.
Given those odds, Thursday night's 2-2 tie felt like a big-time win.
"After losing the way we did, a team can easily go south," right wing Mike
Grier said, "especially with what our record is. To come back and a play gutty
game like that against the Stanley Cup champions, it's big for us."
The game was espeically huge for Grier, who scored his first goal since
opening night and redeemed himself for a costly penalty in the ugly rout at
Buffalo on Wednesday. Joel Kwiatkowski added the tying goal in the third period
for the Capitals, who broke a three-game losing streak.
The Capitals (11-23-4-1) played without right wing Peter Bondra and center
Dainius Zubrus, who are third and fourth on the team in goals. Zubrus will be
sidelined two to four weeks with a broken bone in his right foot, struck by a
slap shot in the first period against Buffalo. Bondra is day-to-day with a
"We knew they were going to bounce back," New Jersey coach Pat Burns said.
"They had a good shellacking last night. We were ready that they were going to
upbeat their game, and they did."
Grant Marshall and Sergei Brylin scored power-play goals in the second
period for the Devils, who dominated early while the Capitals piled up penalty
minutes. Through two periods, the Devils had more power-play shots (17) than
the Capitals had total shots (12).
The Devils failed to convert a pair of five-on-three chances in the first
period, but two goals and some near misses on the power plays were enough to
"Power play is only an opportunity," Burns said. "We hit the post. If
that's a quarter of an inch inside, it's another goal."
The Capitals roared back in the third period, outshooting the Devils 14-6.
They tied it on Kwiatkowski's power-play goal with 15:59 remaining.
The goal came after New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur made a nice save on
Sergei Gonchar's shot. Brodeur got most of Kwiatkowski's follow-up from the
right circle, but the puck trickled over the goal line.
Grier broke a 36-game dry streak in the first period when he picked the puck
off the boards near the red line and started a two-on-one break with Bates
Battaglia. Grier took a pass back from Battaglia, beat Brodeur with a shot,
shook both fists and pounded the corner boards in celebration.
"It was a lot of relief," Grier said.
The Capitals killed 41 seconds of a five-on-three power play in the first
period and 59 seconds of a two-man disadvantage in the second, but the
penalties finally caught up to them when Brian Sutherby drew four minutes for
Marshall tied it during the advantage, putting in a rebound with a wrist
shot that banked favorably off the left post.
An interference penalty against Jeff Halpern gave the Devils a four-on-three
power play late in the second period, and they took a 2-1 lead when Brylin
redirected Brian Rafalski's slap shot.