Down 2-0, Caps rally, go up 2-0 on Pens Kolzig comes up big as starter in 5-3 win


PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins have three of the top four scorers in the NHL, but last night, in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the Washington Capitals and Olie "The Goalie" Kolzig didn't seem to care, as they killed a four-minute major penalty in the final 4: 57 to secure a 5-3 victory.

The win puts the Amazing Capitals up 2-0 in this best-of-seven series that returns to USAir Arena on Monday.

"Pittsburgh has such an explosive team, this series isn't over," said Kolzig, who made his first playoff start. "We're a realistic hockey team. We've been up 3-1 in this series, with a solid healthy team and lost. Now we're really beaten up. So we know we've got a long way to go."

Kolzig probably also knows that only nine times in Stanley Cup playoff history has a team lost the first two games and come back to win the series. But Pittsburgh was one of them in 1991-92, when they rallied to beat the Capitals and went on to win the Stanley Cup.

But last night, no one really cared about that. Last night, the Capitals had so many heroes it was hard to know where to start.

Pat Peake, who wasn't even sure he would be well enough to play in this series until just before Game 1 Wednesday, scored back-to-back power-play goals in the second period to even the game, 2-2.

Mike Eagles, who had only one playoff goal in his 12-year career, made it 3-3 and kept the Caps in it just 40 seconds after Petr Nedved had scored his second goal of the night to put Pittsburgh back on top at 12: 33 of the second.

The power-play unit came through again with 8: 17 to play, when Peter Bondra gave the Caps their first lead of the night. Michal Pivonka put the game way, as he did in Game 1, with an open-net goal. This one came with 51.3 seconds to play.

And the Caps, ranked 22nd in penalty killing but backed brilliantly by Kolzig, stopped the league's No. 1 power-play unit for six of the last seven minutes of the game, including the full four-minute major brought on when Pivonka high-sticked Mario Lemieux with 4: 57 left.

"It was just such a tantamount effort for our penalty-killers," Capitals coach Jim Schoenfeld said. "Your legs are burning anyway from stopping and starting. Then you've got to leave your feet and get back up. It takes so much energy and a lot of effort and they just gutted it out.. . . .

"We were uncertain whether we could come of here with a one-game lead. We thought the odds were insurmountable."

The Caps proved themselves in Game 1, when Kolzig came in for starter Jim Carey with the team behind 4-1 and emerged with a 6-4 victory.

Last night, Schoenfeld pulled an early surprise by starting Kolzig instead of No. 1 Carey. Even though the Caps fell behind 2-0 on a power-play goal by Nedved and a bouncer from the point by Chris Joseph, the Capitals did not fall apart.

"The joke on the bench was 'We've got 'em where we want 'em now, " said Peake happily. "But that's not in the game plan. But the job is getting done. Our team has confidence coming from behind."

So far in this series the Capitals have kept Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr off the scoreboard.

"I'm surprised its gone on this long," said Schoenfeld.

Saud Pittsburgh coach Ed Johnston: "It came down to special teams tonight. But we did a little bit more tonight. I think, we are trying to get a little more traffic in front of the goal keeper. The positive thing is tht we are creating more shots."

Last night, with time running out, Jagr went to the bench, put his hand to his forehead and shook his head.

He seemed to be asking the question everyone else is: Who are these Capitals? Or who do these Capitals think they are?

I don't know, I don't know," Schoenfeld said. "All I know is I want them to get two more wins."

Pub Date: 4/20/96

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