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Series at a Glance

Codependant relationship between Caps and Pens

Click here for more on this story

Posted: Wednesday April 12, 2000 06:09 PM

By Jamie MacDonald, CNNSI.com

In some respects these two teams owe each other for their successes this season.

Twenty-five games into the 1999-2000 season, on the day Pittsburgh GM Craig Patrick fired coach Kevin Constantine and hired Herb Brooks to replace him behind the bench, the Penguins went out and blanked the Capitals 3-0. It was Pittsburgh's ninth win of the season and its first shutout. The Penguins would win 10 of their next 14 and climb back into the early playoff race.

There was no shakeup so seismic in Washington, but many credit its remarkable turnaround to a plane ride home from a west-coast trip in late December. Their first win after that trip came in an overtime thriller against the Penguins. Washington's record after the win was still 13-16-6, but the Capitals would lose only 10 games the rest of the way.
Season Series Recap

Pittsburgh 3, Washington 0

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 9 -- Herb Brooks made his return to the NHL a successful one after Pittsburgh blanked the Capitals, 3-0. It was Brooks's first NHL win since April, 1993, and it came on the heels of Kevin Constantine's firing after he compiled an 8-14-3 record.

Washington 3, Pittsburgh 2

WASHINGTON, Dec. 29 -- Adam Oates lifted a backhander over Jean-Sebastien Aubin with 27.5 seconds remaining in overtime as the Washington Capitals edged the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-2, ending a four-game winless streak. Washington took six shots, to Pittsburgh's one, in the extra frame. Jaromir Jagr scored his 28th goal of the season early in the game.

Pittsburgh 3, Washington 2

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 1 -- Martin Straka scored twice, including the game- winner with 7:19 remaining, and the Penguins snapped the Washington's 11-game unbeaten streak with a 3-2 victory. Peter Bondra said after the game, "The streak was fun ... It was rolling like a snowball. Now we have to play like that again." Prior to the game, Olaf Kolzig was named the NHL player of the month for January.

Pittsburgh 4, Washington 3

WASHINGTON, March 30 -- Fighting to hold onto the No. 7 seed, Pittsburgh became only the second team to beat Wasghington at the MCI Center since Dec. 27. Chris Simon scored his team-leading 29th goal of the season, but the Penguins held on and won the season series against the Capitals with three wins and a loss.

Storylines We're Following

Close Calls

It would be hard to bet against the Capitals at this point, but there is little reason to think this won't be a tight series. The last three times Washington and Pittsburgh met, they went to overtime twice and the third game wasn't decided until late in the third period.

Godzilla's Revenge

Olaf Kolzig, February's player of the month and a favorite for the Vezina Trophy has the opportunity to show the hockey world that Washington's Cup run in 1998 was no fluke.

In the other pipes

It would be hard to bet against the Capitals at this point, but there is little reason to think this won't be a tight series. The last three times Washington and Pittsburgh met, they went to overtime twice and the third game wasn't decided until late in the third period.

Man of the Hour

Jaromir Jagr is putting all of his energy into taking this team to the Stanley Cup. He says he wants to "do what Mario did," and carry the Pens on his back all the way to a championship. The Kid from Kladno knows he can make a difference and is looking forward to doing just that.

Man on the Spot

Always reliable, occasionally spectacular, Ron Tugnutt will be asked to keep the Penguins in a series that begins where only three road teams have won during this calendar year.

Bandwagon
Richard Zednik Can provide the same sort of spark that Sergei Berezin does in Toronto
Peter Bondra Sniper entered the series questionable for Game 1
Olaf Kolzig Suffered some tough losses to the Penguins, one without Jagr in the lineup
Jaromir Jagr In three games vs. Washington: A goal, three assists and plus-3
Ron Wilson Motivational tactics may come under fire, unless they work
Refundable Prediction

Chris Simon will score at least two dazzling goals this series, and they will make you wonder what sort of touch he'd have had around the net if his hands weren't used primarily as hammers for the last couple of years.

 
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