Capitals snap three-game losing skid


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Washington Capitals stopped a losing
streak by simplifying their defense.

Peter Bondra and Ivan Ciernik each had a goal and an assist as
the Capitals snapped a three-game skid by beating the Montreal
Canadiens 4-1 on Monday night.

"This time of year, when you give up scoring chances, it can be
crucial,'' Washington forward Jeff Halpern said. "When you play in
a system with three guys back, maybe four, it limits their chances
on the rush.''

Jaromir Jagr and Steve Konowalchuk also scored for the Capitals,
who had lost four of five. Bondra scored for the first time in
eight games and tried to shake off the slump.

"You have to put pressure on yourself to score -- it's my job,''
Bondra said. "But things don't always go well for you.''

Jan Bulis had the goal for Montreal, which has dropped four
straight -- matching a season-high -- and five of six.

Washington's defense, which surrendered 14 goals during the
losing streak, clamped down on the struggling Canadiens. Olaf
Kolzig, who allowed 11 goals in two games, was rarely challenged
despite Montreal's 26-18 edge in shots.

"They didn't shoot a lot tonight, but had a lot of scoring
chances early,'' Montreal goalie Jose Theodore said. "They seemed
to get the right goals at the right time. I can do more. As a team,
we can't be satisfied with being average, starting with the

Washington increased its lead in the Southeast Division to three
points over Tampa Bay.

Capitals coach Bruce Cassidy hopes the Capitals will embrace the
new defensive scheme because it's the same strategy that helped the
team gain a point in 14 straight games in December and January.

"We're going to find out,'' he said. "It's what we're looking
for, what we've been looking for. I think we can because we did it
six or eight weeks (ago).''

The Capitals took a 1-0 lead when Ciernik scored from the right
circle on a 2-on-1 break 9:08 in. Ciernik's sixth goal came off a
cross-ice pass from Michael Nylander.

Jagr made it 2-0 early in the second period. When Dainius
Zubrus' left-wing slap shop caromed off the right post, Jagr
converted the long rebound at 2:22.

Bondra extended the lead 2:41 into the third. Bondra skated down
the left wing and ripped a slap shot from the top of the circle
past Theodore.

Bulis scored his 14th goal on a goal-mouth scramble with 7:09
left after Niklas Sundstrom's shot ricocheted off the crossbar.

The Capitals went up 4-1 when Konowalchuk chipped in a centering
pass from Mike Grier with 5:02 left.

Game notes
The Canadiens didn't get their first shot on goal until
8:45 elapsed. ... Capitals LW Kip Miller was scratched because of a
sore hand. ... Montreal D Patrice Brisebois was activated from the
injured list after missing eight games due to stress-induced
arrhythmia. ... Zubrus earned his 200th career point. ... The
Canadiens had been on a 4-0-1 streak against Washington. ...
Montreal D Stephane Quintal was helped from the ice after tripping
behind the net on Konowalchuk's goal. He sustained a hamstring or
groin injury and will be re-evaluated Tuesday.