Capitals 12, Panthers 2
There was a huge performance lurking somewhere within Jaromir Jagr. No one wins five NHL scoring titles without displaying a penchant for compiling points in bunches and his recent scoring woes could only linger so long.
Last night, he and the Capitals combined for one of the most explosive outbursts in franchise history in a 12-2 thumping of the Florida Panthers at MCI Center.
Jagr scored three goals and assisted on four more, matching his career-high with seven points and tying Dino Ciccarelli for Washington's single-game record. The Capitals tied franchise records with 12 goals and a 10-goal margin of victory.
"It was only one game," said Jagr, who yesterday was announced as a starter in his 11th all-star game. "It was just a lucky game."
The Capitals extended their streak to 12 straight games earning at least a point (7-0-3-2), tying the third-best run in franchise history, although those streaks included no overtime losses. Washington (20-16-5-2), which moved four games over .500 for the first time this season and remained atop the Southeast Division, has not lost in regulation time since Dec. 14. The Capitals have not lost at home in regulation since Nov. 29, a span of eight games, and continue to stifle teams with their defense, allowing 22 goals over 12 games.
Jagr was directly involved in much of his team's success last night, snapping out of a deep funk He produced three points in the opening period; he had not had a three-point game since opening night (a span of 40 games). Jagr amassed seven points in 36 minutes 15 seconds minutes; he had seven points over his last 14 games. Jagr also netted his first multiple-goal game since March 21 -- a span of 52 games -- and first hat trick since March 2001, when he was still with Pittsburgh.
"When [Jagr] gets going early and gets rewarded and gets some points," Coach Bruce Cassidy said, "those seem to be the games when he has a little more juice."
Jagr's personal assault began less than two minutes into the game. He handcuffed goalie Jani Hurme (who was pulled in the second period then returned in the third period) with a high shot on the power play, and Robert Lang poked in the rebound. Less than six minutes later, Jagr, double shifting with the fourth line, stuffed in his own rebound. He finished the first period by feeding defenseman Sergei Gonchar (four points) in the crease.
Dainius Zubrus converted another Florida turnover late in the first period, making it 4-0, and Gonchar split the defense and fed Steve Konowalchuk for another goal 17 seconds into the second period. Washington set a season high with five goals in that period, and Jagr had a hand in four of them.
"Jagr was awesome," Konowalchuk said. "It was good to see him have a night like that where he just dominated. Maybe that can put him on a nice roll."
"They started circling like sharks and putting everything in the net," Florida winger Peter Worrell said. "Everything we did wrong, we paid for tonight."
Kip Miller, who set a career high with four assists last night and replaced slumping Ivan Ciernik on the top line, fed Jagr as he raced to net and stuffed the puck past star goalie Roberto Luongo. Jagr netted his 21st goal of the season, and third of the game, less than two minutes later; Miller stole the puck and fed him for a blistering one-timer, beating Luongo's glove cleanly.
"I hope they keep Kip on the left side," Jagr said. "With all the scoring titles I won, he was on the other side. . . . We have a chemistry between each other. I'll always love to play with him."
Jagr closed the second period by springing Jason Doig on a breakaway. Doig scored his first goal as a Capital and first NHL goal since Oct. 7, 1995 -- which was his first of 53 career NHL games -- gave the Capitals a 9-0 lead. Olli Jokinen broke the shutout early in the third period. Then Peter Bondra scored twice within two minutes, and Zubrus added another as 13 of the 18 skaters Washington in uniform picked up at least one point.
The fans chanted for "One more goal," as the final minutes ticked away, but Jagr took just three shifts in the final period and 12 goals would have to be enough.
"I know how it feels to be on the other side of this," Jagr said. "You have to respect the other team. I don't want to go out and score eight points, it doesn't matter. We won."
Capitals Notes: Ciccarelli scored seven points in an 8-2 win over Hartford on March 18, 1989. Jagr's other seven-point game was Dec. 30, 1999. . . . The NHL record for most points in a game is 10, set by Toronto's Darryl Sittler on Feb.7, 1976. . . . Washington's other 12-goal game was Feb. 6, 1990, a 12-2 win over Quebec. . . .
Washington last went 12 straight games with a point in 2000-2001, and compiled 14-game streaks in 1983-84 and 1982-83. The NHL began giving points for an overtime loss in 1998-1999. . . .
Defenseman Calle Johansson left the game in the second period because of a sore back -- the team believes it is a minor injury -- and Alex Henry, a defenseman converted to wing this season, moved back to defense. . . .
The Panthers had never allowed more than nine goals in a game. . . .
The Capitals are 8-1-2 against the Southeast Division and 16-9-2-1 within the conference. . . . Gonchar and Ken Klee were each plus-7 last night. . . .
Ciernik, who has two points in his last 15 games, was scratched for the first time since Dec. 13. Defenseman Jean-Francois Fortin was scratched for the fifth straight game, and forward Glen Metropolit was scratched for the 11th time in the last 12 games.