Mario's show hits the road

Rare sellout sees Capitals lose to Lemieux, Penguins

Posted: Tuesday, January 09, 2001

WASHINGTON -- Mario Lemieux had to settle for best supporting role in the road debut of his comeback show. The star was Martin Straka.

In his first road game since ending his 3 1/2-year retirement, Lemieux won a face-off to set up Ian Moran's game-winning goal with 12:39 to play as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals 5-3 Monday night.

But it was Straka whose fourth career hat-trick showed the Penguins second line can be potent, too. Straka became the first Pittsburgh forward not on the Lemieux-Jaromir Jagr-Jan Hrdina line to score an even-strength goal since Lemieux's return five games ago.

''The last five games, they've been scoring every goal,'' said Straka, whose last three-goal game came on Nov. 28, 1998. ''We couldn't put any pucks in the net from the second or third line. Hopefully we're going to take some pressure off.''

Robert Lang and Moran scored 40 seconds apart as Pittsburgh became the first team to defeat Washington when trailing after two periods. The Penguins, who had won three of four at home since Lemieux's return, have outscored their opponents 49-33 in the third period this season.

''We never panic with the talent that we have here,'' Lemieux said. ''We know that if we're close in the third period we can get a couple of goals.''

Adam Oates, Peter Bondra and Ulf Dahlen scored for the Capitals, who also lost a one-goal game to Lemieux and Co. last week in Pittsburgh. The Caps were again asked how they can solve the Penguins, having lost 9 of the 11 meetings against a team that is also a regular nemesis in the playoffs.

''I don't know, but maybe get a couple of them on our side,'' left wing Chris Simon said.

For the first time since his return, Lemieux did not score a goal. He had two assists, however, giving him at least two points in each of his five games.

As an example of Lemieux-mania, the Caps sold out the MCI Center for only the second time all season -- and they did it several days in advance. Thousands of Penguins fans made the trip, their cheers more than competitive with those of the home fans.

On the game-winner, Lemieux won the face-off in the left circle. The puck went to Hrdina, who passed to Moran. Moran's slap shot beat goaltender Olaf Kolzig to the stick side for his first goal since Dec. 29, 1999, also at Washington.

Washington coach Ron Wilson said the goal shouldn't have counted because Jagr should have been penalized for tripping Steve Konowalchuk after the face-off. Wilson, also citing a no-call on a nasty high stick by Josef Beranek into Oates' face, accused referees Shane Heyer and Richard Trottier of being intimidated by the Penguins star power.

''It's hard enough to check those guys, but when they're allowed to foul people, that's plain and simply not right,'' Wilson said. ''Get people in here who won't be intimidated, that's what you need. Tonight that wasn't the case at all.''

Stars 2, Rangers 1

NEW YORK -- Marty Turco, in only his 11th NHL game, made 37 saves -- allowing only a third-period goal -- as Dallas beat New York.

Ed Belfour stormed out of a pregame skate Saturday in Boston after a dispute with coach Ken Hitchcock and was suspended on Sunday.

Turco, who had his first career shutout Saturday, is making the most of his chance to play. In the last five games he stopped 130 of 133 shots. He denied 64 consecutive before Eric Lacroix scored his second goal of the season 5:39 into the third.

Flyers 2, Blues 1, OT

ST. LOUIS -- Keith Primeau tipped a loose puck past Roman Turek at 3:01 of overtime as Philadelphia beat St. Louis.

Primeau got both of the Flyers' goals, has 16 on the season, and has scored five times in the last three games.

Dallas Drake's third-period power-play goal had tied it for St. Louis.

Canucks 2, Predators 1

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Todd Bertuzzi broke a scoreless tie with 1:28 left in the second period and Bob Essensa stopped 16 shots for Vancouver.

Essensa was 1:07 away from his first shutout with the Canucks, but Richard Lintner scored after Nashville pulled its goaltender. Essensa improved to 10-3-1 as the Canucks won for the third time in four games and fourth straight at home.

Donald Brashear also scored for Vancouver.



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