Penguins pull even, 7-1, as Caps collapse at home

THE BALTIMORE SUN

LANDOVER -- For the Washington Capitals, it was a nightmare on ice.

Pittsburgh goalie Ken Wregget made 30 saves and came within 1:27 of his first playoff shutout since 1989 last night and the Penguins, one game from elimination, crushed the Capitals, 7-1, in Game 6 before 15,412 at USAir Arena.

This best-of-seven Stanley Cup Eastern Conference quarterfinal series is tied 3-3 and returns to Pittsburgh tomorrow for Game 7.

"I think we forgot our kryptonite," said Washington coach Jim Schoenfeld. "They threw an awful lot at us. It looked like men against boys the first 10 minutes of the game. . . . We got back on our heels and we couldn't recover. Now we go to play Game 7, and all we have to do is win one hockey game."

Washington, which once held a 3-1 series lead and is in danger of adding to its list of playoff collapses, also lost backup goaltender Olie Kolzig indefinitely with torn knee cartilage on a night when the Penguins made No. 1 goalie Jim Carey look like a 20-year-old rookie for one of the few times this season.

Kolzig played well after he entered the game with 16:23 left in the opening period and Washington losing 2-0. But after making five terrific stops, he went down.

The injury came at 10:41, as the Caps were trying to kill a 5-on-3 Penguins power play. He sensed a shot coming from the point and went down in a half-butterfly move to block it. and the puck came from the opposite direction. He extended his leg a little more to make the save and, instead of bringing his leg back to get up, he tried to get up from that position.

"I put too much pressure on my knee," he said. "It's nothing really serious. I think there is some torn cartilage on the outside of my knee and I might have torn some scar tissue from where I dislocated my knee cap last year."

Kolzig said he will have arthroscopic surgery on his knee today to determine the extent of the damage.

"If it's just the cartilage, then I've come back within 10 days from that stuff before," he said. "So I'm looking at two weeks."

Pittsburgh star Jaromir Jagr was not injured last night, but Penguins coach Ed Johnston said he kept Jagr and several other of his front-line players off the ice in the third period to prevent them from being intentionally injured by the Caps. He said he will ask the league "to address what happened here tonight."

Schoenfeld called the charge "fabrication and utter nonsense," pointing out that Johnston had tried to accuse the Caps of cheap shots on Jagr after Game 3.

"We are going to hit him [Jagr] every chance we get and we are going to hit him as hard as we can hit him," Schoenfeld said. "But to think we were really trying to injure him is really stretching the truth."

Last night, Pittsburgh got two goals each from Jagr, Luc Robitaille and Tomas Sandstrom and one from Troy Murray, his first of the season.

"A nightmare is an understatement," said Caps defenseman Joe Reekie, who failed to hold off Jagr on a breakaway at 3:37 of the first period that ended the Jagr scoring for a 2-0 lead. "I think the whole night we seemed to be catching up. And it was unfortunate with Olie coming in, making the big saves for us and then getting hurt."

"We take this as a slap in the face, as a wake-up call for us, as a shot in the arm. We know if we play like that, we're going to lose, especially against this team."

Right wing Keith Jones, who scored Washington's goal, said, "We played absolutely terrible. There is no other way to describe it. No excuse for it and no reason for it, other than collectively as a group we were the worst I've seen us all season.

"We're a team that relies on character and hard work and it wasn't there tonight. But that doesn't mean it won't be there the next game."

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