LANDOVER -- The Colorado Avalanche, its lineup filled with goal-scorers, spent most of the third period in the Washington zone last night as USAir Arena, putting shots on goal, testing Jim Carey's reflexes and the Capitals' defense.
But the Capitals came out on top in the nerve-jangling game, notching their second win of the season, 3-1, as the sparse crowd, announced at 9,742, chanted what sounded like, "We want Bondra."
The Caps (2-1) will play here again tonight, meeting the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30.
With more than a minute left in last night's game, Colorado pulled goalie Stephane Fiset for a sixth attacker, but Washington was up to the task.
Carey made save after save, one of the best coming with 36 seconds left when he stopped a slap shot by Joe Sakic to preserve a 2-1 lead. Carey finished with 25 saves.
And, with 26.8 seconds left, Dale Hunter put the game on ice with a shot from the blue line into the open net.
The Caps got off to an outstanding start. The game was just 39 seconds old when Owen Nolan came calling on Jim Carey, on a breakaway. But Carey didn't flinch, knocking the puck unceremoniously into a distant corner.
About five minutes later, when the Caps were on their first power play, Calle Johansson and Joe Juneau combined to relay the puck to Keith Jones in the slot. Jones turned, and without getting everything on it, was able to flip it between Fiset's left foot and the post for Washington's first goal.
For Washington, which had scored on just two of 17 previous power plays in their first two games, it was a nice moment. It would get even better in the middle period.
With 3:23 gone, and the Capitals on their second power play, Pat Peake picked up a rebound at the side of the Avalanche net, pulled it back into the danger zone and tucked it past the fallen Fiset for a 2-0 led.
It stayed that way until there was 1:58 left in the period. At that point, Washington's propensity for putting Colorado on the power play -- six times through two periods -- proved costly.
The Avalanche, which is tied for third in power play prowess with a 27.3 percent success rate, used a goal by Sakic to tighten things at 2-1.
For Sakic, who went into last night's game tied for the league goal-scoring lead, it was his fifth goal in five games. Although Carey was in the right place, Sakic took a pass from Mike Ricci and blasted it at the net. The puck hit Carey's pads and bounced past him into the goal.