Caps get back on track with win over Sharks Ustorf, Konowalchuk push team to 3-2 win

LANDOVER — LANDOVER -- Keith Jones, Stefan Ustorf and Steve Konowalchuk promised to drive the net, shoot the puck and score goals, and last night they were as good as their word.

"I told you we'd score," Jones said. "When we went down 2-1, we could have said it's just not meant to be. But we came back. What a relief!"


With Jones stopping Washington's four-period scoring drought in the second period, Ustorf and Konowalchuk scored twice within 28 seconds in the third to rally Washington to a 3-2 comeback victory.

It was the Capitals' first victory in seven games, ending an 0-5-1 run. And if anyone arrived too late to see the on-ice victory dance, they would have known the outcome of this game by just stopping by the locker room.


The loud rock-and-roll music that had been missing since Nov. 4 on Long Island, when the Capitals last won, was back. The smiles were back.

The relief was palpable as the Capitals claimed that they're back, too.

All of which means Washington will spend a happy Thanksgiving before returning to the ice at the USAir Arena on Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Washington can spend the next two days assimilating the added good news that right wing Pat Peake, who remains the team's leading power-play scorer despite missing the past 10 games with thyroid cartilage damage, has been cleared to return.

Leading scorer Peter Bondra (shoulder) is still day-to-day.

"The world has been on our shoulders," said Ken Klee, who tried an amazing back-handed shot through his legs that nearly beat San Jose goalie Chris Terreri in the second period. "We've been trying to battle through it. And tonight, we were dominating and they were leading. It was rough, but I don't think we were ever real up tight."

Leading 1-0, the Capitals fell into a tie in the second period on a power-play goal by Owen Nolan and fell behind with 12:04 to play in the third when Ray Sheppard scored on a San Jose power play.

"When we were down 2-1, there was no lack of determination," said Capitals coach Jim Schoenfeld. "There was no hint of panic or allowing ourselves to be discouraged. The guys simply kept encouraging each other, saying the goals will come."


With 7:35 left, Jones came down the right side, pulling the Sharks' defense to him, while Joe Juneau sent the puck into the far corner to Ustorf.

The rookie saw Jones and figured if he could get the puck to the slot something good might happen.

"I just threw the puck toward the net," said Ustorf, after scoring his third goal of the season. "It was a terrible angle and I just wanted to get it to the net. . . . It was a big win for us and good for our confidence."

His one-timer left Sharks goalie Terreri hugging the near post. Later, Terreri (28 saves) would say Ustorf was offsides and the goal should not have counted.

It was just 28 seconds after Ustorf scored that Calle Johansson started a relay to Michal Pivonka that would lead to Konowalchuk's first goal in 10 games.

Konowalchuk, who said he wasn't a very good baseball player, batted 1.000 and scored the winning goal when he battled it out of the air and into the net with 12:53 gone in the final period.


"The puck just hit their goalie and came back to me," he said. "It was about waist-high and I hit it. . . . We had to win this game. We'd lost too many close games."

NOTE: Defenseman Joe Reekie received the Alka-Seltzer Plus award for having the team's best plus/minus number last season at plus-10.