Washington right wing Peter Bondra made history last night and got his wish.
Bondra became the first player in Washington Capitals history to win the NHL goal-scoring title, and Pittsburgh's Jaromir Jagr became the first European to win the point-scoring title.
"He is very good player, and I think it is good for him to win the point title," said Bondra, who was out to dinner with his family when he learned of his achievement. "And it . . . is good for me to score most goals, too."
Bondra's 34 goals were enough to earn him the top spot when Jagr, who went into last night's game against Florida with 32, and produced just one assist in Pittsburgh's 4-3 loss to the Florida Panthers.
That loss, coupled with Quebec's 4-1 win over Hartford, assured the Capitals a first-round matchup against the Penguins this weekend in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Capitals will open the playoffs Saturday or Sunday with Game 1 in Pittsburgh. Game 2 will be in Pittsburgh Monday night and the two teams will return to USAir Arena for Games 3 and 4, May 10 and 12. If needed Game 5 will be back in Pittsburgh, May 14, Game 6 in Washington, May 16 and Game 7 in Pittsburgh, May 18.
"I think it's super that Peter's won it," said left wing Keith Jones. "Peter has done a great job for us all season. He's scored big goals for us all year. I bet of his 34, 25 of them were big, big goals. And along with Jim Carey, he's the reason our season turned around the way it did. My hat goes off to him."
Michal Pivonka, who centers the line on which Bondra plays was also happy for his teammate.
"It was great watching Jagr tie him Tuesday night and then seeing Peter moving ahead like that," Pivonka said. "And now he's won it. We've been playing good together for our years now and I'm happy he won it. I don't think I'm playing any better, but Peter is. And Peter playing better helps me and it helps the team . . . and it would be great if Peter still has some goals on his stick for the playoffs."
The playoffs against the Penguins will not be easy, despite the Capitals' 7-2 victory over them Tuesday night.
"I think it's going to be exciting," said Jones. "The fans and players have a real rivalry built up with each other. But if we look at the 7-2 victory as the kind of series it will be, we're fooling ourselves. I think we know if we hadn't gotten a terrific performance from [goalie] Olie Kolzig Tuesday, it wouldn't have turned out like that."