Right wing Peter Bondra returned from a groin injury tonight to record a hat trick against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, but it was still not enough for the Washington Capitals, who extended their losing streak to five games with a 5-4 loss before 17,174 at Arrowhead Pond.
It was the eighth career hat trick for Bondra, who scored the first goal on the Capitals' first shot of the game. Rookie Jaroslav Svejkovsky, recording his first NHL point, scored in the first period to give Washington a 3-1 lead. But Anaheim, which received a first-period goal from defenseman Dmitri Mironov, scored three times in the second period.
Aside from the loss, the Capitals' seventh in eight games, Washington (13-16-1) also suffered another injury. Defenseman Eric Charron, recalled from Portland (Maine) of the American Hockey League last week, left the game midway through the second period and did not return. He is day-to-day with bruised ribs.
"We had a good first period, but then stopped doing what had created the 3-1 lead," Coach Jim Schoenfeld said. "Peter came back, did what he was supposed to do, but we made a lot of mistakes."
Mironov scored Anaheim's second goal, and right wing Jean-Francois Jomphe scored twice in 13 seconds to put Anaheim ahead for good with less than two minutes left in the second period. Defenseman Bobby Dollas added the Mighty Ducks' final goal early in the third.
Bondra extended his team-high scoring total to 27 points while working with center Michal Pivonka for the first time since Oct. 26, when Pivonka tore cartilage in his right knee. The two took less than six minutes to get back in sync, taking command of a two-on-two rush when Pivonka crossed the puck from left to right in front of the Anaheim net. Bondra sent the puck past goaltender Mikhail Shtalenkov, providing what appeared to be the spark Washington had been searching for the past 10 days.
Svejkovsky recorded 34 points in 25 games with Portland this season. Tonight, playing in his second career NHL game, he took a sharp pass from Joe Juneau and backhanded it past Shtalenkov. The goal's other assist went to left wing Chris Simon, playing on the team's second line for the first time since being traded to Washington Nov. 9.
Svejkovsky's goal seemed to root the game's momentum firmly on the Capitals' bench, but Mironov's late first-period goal brought new life to the Mighty Ducks. Bondra appeared to take the momentum change personally, though, when his solo effort at 18:01 returned the Capitals to a two-goal lead.
Mironov was not finished either, however, scoring 4:49 into the second period to bring Anaheim within reach again. Jomphe then took the Ducks the rest of the way, scoring Anaheim's third and fourth goals at 17:51 and 18:04, respectively, to set a team record. Jomphe first scored by scooping up a gritty pass from forward Jar Kurt and then waiting for goaltender Jim Carey to lunge low before flipping the puck into the net. He scored again barely a breath later by coming down the left side of the Capitals' zone, drawing Carey out of the net and then sending it past his glove side.
Bondra was awarded the first penalty shot of his seven-year career by referee Kerry Fraser when Anaheim defenseman Jason Marshall illegally covered the puck in the crease. Bondra came straight in on Shtalenkov and fired high and wide to the left of the net with 59 seconds left in the second period.
"I'm disappointed because I still have to think about that penalty shot," Bondra said. "The ice is bad at the end of the period. If the ice was better, I would have tried a move, but there wasn't much I could do."
Bondra scored his third goal with 31 seconds left in the game after Washington pulled Carey for an extra skater. Bondra's final goal was the first in 26 power-play opportunities for the Capitals.
"Right now we're making mental mistakes and at this level it's going to cost you," Phil Housley said. "In the second period, we stopped skating, stopped forechecking and stopped finishing checking."
CAPTION: The Capitals' Michal Pivonka hugs Sergei Gonchar after they assisted on Peter Bondra's first-period goal.