TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Jaromir Jagr played as if he had something to
A non-factor in the opening game of the first-round playoff
series between Washington and Tampa Bay, the NHL's highest-paid
player asserted himself from the start Saturday in the Capitals'
6-3 victory over the Lightning.
Jagr finished with two goals and two assists. And, the
sixth-seeded Capitals, who took a 2-0 lead in the series, moved
into position to eliminate third-seeded Tampa Bay by winning Games
3 and 4 at home Tuesday and Wednesday.
"It's not over until you lose four games. We have two to go to
win the series," Jagr said. "I've been on their side before and
down two. It's definitely not over."
The loss was the fourth straight for the Lightning, who clinched
their first Southeast Division title and home-ice advantage for the
first round with two games left in the regular season.
Now they have to regroup and try to save their season in
Washington, where they haven't won since Nov. 4, 1998 -- a span of
"I know they have a stranglehold," Lightning coach John
Tortorella said. "We need everything going to crawl back into
Peter Bondra had two goals and one assist for Washington. Jagr,
meanwhile, didn't show any signs of being bothered by a sore right
wrist after being limited to one shot in Game 1 on Thursday night.
The eight-time All-Star stopped a streak of eight games without
a goal less than five minutes into the first period. He also had
assists on goals by Bondra and Michael Nylander as the Capitals
played even better than in the opener when Robert Lang scored twice
in a 3-0 victory.
The four points by Jagr matched the career playoff-high he set
April 13, 2000, when he had four assists for Pittsburgh in a 7-0
victory over Washington. The Jagr-led Penguins eliminated the
Capitals from the postseason six times between 1991 and 2001.
The Capitals traded for Jagr before last season and are paying
him the highest salary in the league -- $11 million per year -- to
get them over the playoff hump. Washington was knocked out in the
first round in 2000 and 2001, and didn't qualify last year.
Jagr's first goal was a work of beauty. He deked Stan Neckar,
then skated around the retreating Tampa Bay defenseman for a clear
path to goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, who was unable to stop a wrist
shot that deflected in off the left post.
"I don't really remember the first goal. I didn't even know I
scored," Jagr said.
"I hit somebody wide and tried to go to the net. I used to play
like that when I was 18 years old; when I had speed. I had a chance
to go one-on-one. That's what I'm always looking for."
Bondra made it 2-0 a little more than three minutes later. Tampa
Bay cut the lead on Vinny Prospal's goal, but fell behind by two
goals again when Jagr -- assisted by Lang and Bondra -- scored to
make it 3-1 with less than two minutes remaining in the first.
Nylander added Washington's third power-play goal in the second
period to make it 4-1 before Fredrik Modin brought the Lightning
back within two goals with 1:12 left in the second.
Bondra's second goal, scored after Tampa Bay's Brad Lukowich
failed to clear the puck, made it 5-2 just over three minutes in
the final period. Dave Andreychuk cut the Lightning's deficit to
5-3 at 10:44, but Mike Grier added an empty-net goal for Washington
with less than a minute left.
"We scored the goals at the right time. But it's not about
scoring goals it's about winning," Bondra said. "We won the game,
now we have to get ready for the next one."
Olaf Kolzig, who had 28 saves to get his sixth career playoff
shutout in Game 1, stopped 40 of 43 shots to outplay Khabibulin
"I've had better games. Same time, I think, if we want to win
the next game, we can't be playing the game short-handed,"
Khabibulin said. "They have a very good power play, and it hurt us
a lot today. I should have been better, but we've got to be more
The Capitals had at least three power-play goals in a game
five times during the regular season. ... The Lightning has not
held a lead in regulation in seven of eight playoff games in
franchise history. ... Prospal's goal ended a 123-minute drought
between playoff goals for Tampa Bay. The Lightning hadn't scored
since midway through the first period of a loss to Philadelphia in
Game 6 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series in 1996. ...
Bondra has 28 goals in 69 career playoff games. ... Jagr has 68
goals in 142 playoff games.