LANDOVER -- The Ottawa Senators didn't know what they were flying in to. Sure they knew about the near-30 inches of snow engulfing the area. Sure they knew about the reports that another snow storm was on its way.
But they didn't count on being snowed under by newly named All-Star Peter Bondra and his Washington Capitals line mates Michal Pivonka and Keith Jones.
Bondra came like an avalanche, producing a hat trick and two assists. Pivonka and Jones could have been flagged for piling on. Pivonka produced a career-high six points with two goals and four assists and Jones also produced a career high with a goal and three assists.
All of it combined to bury the Senators, 6-1, before a sparse crowd at USAir Arena, where about half of the 11,511 who bought tickets showed up.
While all this was going on, Washington goalie Jim Carey was covering his net, allowing just one goal by Tom Chorske on 24 shots.
The victory was Washington's 20th of the season and improved its record to 20-17-4, and gives the Caps a firmer grip on sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Capitals will try to keep blistering the net tomorrow night when they face the Western Division-leading Detroit Red Wings at 7:30 and try to stretch their home unbeaten streak to nine games.
Bondra pulled Washington into a first-period tie at 12:42 of the opening period with his 22nd goal of the season. And then he assisted on both of Pivonka's goals. The first came on a power play with 4:29 gone in the middle period, when Bondra made a beautiful cross-ice pass from near the baseline to Pivonka waiting wide-open at the far side of the crease.
Pivonka's second goal came when Bondra left a drop pass for the center, while Jones ran interference, totally screening Ottawa goalie Don Beaupre (20 saves), who used to be Washington's No. 1 goalie.
Washington's fourth goal arrived when two Ottawa defensemen chose to go toward Joe Juneau, who played occasionally with Pivonka and Bondra last night. Juneau had gotten the puck from Pivonka and as the defense collapsed toward him he sent the puck to the hustling Bondra, who stretched for the puck and then slid it under Beaupre's outstretched arm at 6:27.
All of it was quite a change from the first period, in which there was little flow to the game by either team. Neither team had played since last Saturday, when Washington lost to the New Jersey Devils, 3-1, and the Senators fell, 5-4, to the New York Islanders.
Capitals coach Jim Schoenfeld reshuffled his defensive corps, starting Sylvain Cote with Joe Reekie for the first time since Dec. 10, when the Capitals beat the Winnipeg Jets. That move shifted rookie Brendan Witt and second-year man Sergei Gonchar together. But he kept his top pair, Mark Tinordi and Calle Johansson, together.
And by the second period, everyone had reshuffled to their former lines.
The Senators scored on a 45-foot blast by Chorske that clanged off the post to beat Carey with 5:28 gone in the opening period.
It was the 25th time in 40 games that the opposition has beaten the Capitals to the scoreboard. But Washington didn't let that stop it, as it kept plugging away. Steve Konowalchuk got a couple swipes at the puck and Bondra got a shot that Jones followed up at 12:57.
But the pretty shots were all stopped by Beaupre.
It took a crowd gathering at the front of the Ottawa net with 2:13 left in the period for Bondra to get Washington's tying goal.