Tampa Bay won 4-2 (Game 2 of 6)

Tampa Bay won 4-2

Game 1: Thursday, April 10th
Game 2: Saturday, April 12th
Game 3: Tuesday, April 15th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 16th
Game 5: Friday, April 18th
Game 6: Sunday, April 20th

3:00 PM ET, April 12, 2003

Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa, Florida

1 2 3 T
WSH 3 1 26
TB 1 1 13

J. Jagr (Capitals - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 2

P. Bondra (Capitals - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 1

M. Nylander (Capitals - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Jagr has two goals, two assists as Caps take 2-0 lead

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Jaromir Jagr played as if he had something to prove.

 Jaromir Jagr

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 11 games.

"I know they have a stranglehold," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "We need everything going to crawl back into this."

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 again.

"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 disciplined."

Game notes
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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press