Work in Sports
WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- General manager Craig Patrick looks like a genius.
Defenseman Janne Laukkanen scored twice and Ron Tugnutt stopped 32 shots en route to his second career playoff shutout as the Pittsburgh Penguins blanked the Washington Capitals, 7-0, in Game One of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Laukkanen and Tugnutt were part of Patrick's three moves at the March 14 trade deadline. They were acquired from Ottawa for Tom Barrasso, Pittsburgh's all-time winningest goalie.
"You're not going to score seven too often," Tugnutt said. "When you do, you've got to win them. We took the crowd out of the game and it made a big difference. The big play was to get the lead and get their fans out of it. This is only the first game and there is a long way to go yet."
Due to a scheduling quirk here and at Mellon Arena, the next two games in the series will be at Pittsburgh, which gives the seventh-seeded Penguins an even stronger hold of home-ice advantage over the second-seeded Capitals.
Laukkanen started the scoring just 2:30 into the contest. Skating in from the right faceoff circle, he fired a slap shot, which sneaked between goaltender Olaf Kolzig's left shoulder and pad before trickling into the net.
Kolzig was pulled after two periods, allowing six goals on 19 shots for the Capitals, who allowed seven tallies for the first time in a postseason game since a 7-1 setback when the two teams battled in the first round of the 1995 playoffs.
"I wouldn't go anywhere near blaming our goaltender," Washington coach Ron Wilson said. "In the first, they had five odd-man rushes and we had none. We constantly got caught up ice. We made elementary mistakes. In front of Olie, they really let him down."
Tugnutt was not tested with any serious threats and sealed the shutout by stopping rookie Glen Metropolit in the final seconds.
Chris Simon, who shedded his role as enforcer to score 29 goals during the regular season, was involved in two controversial plays during the second period. Both Matthew Barnaby (back) and Peter Popovic (jaw) were injured due to questionable cross checks by the 6-4, 231-pound left wing.
"We're here to play hockey, not the other stuff," Pittsburgh coach Herb Brooks said. "We're here to play hockey the way it was supposed to be play. We'll just have to let the review process take its course."
Washington was victimized by various minor penalties, which wiped out power-play chances, and Pittsburgh capitalized. Of the four even-strength tallies by the Penguins, three were scored during 4-on-4 situations.
"Obviously, the game is a disaster," Wilson said. "But, it's only one playoff game. You just tear up the page like a calendar and throw it away. It's not the way we scripted it to go. We don't want to play them 4-on-4 and we did that. We didn't want to take silly penalties and we did that. Then, it's lights out."
Superstar right wing Jaromir Jagr, who took the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top scorer, collected four assists, including a cross-ice pass on Robert Lang's power-play goal, which made it 2-0 nearly midway through the first period.
Laukannen added an assist as the Penguins took a three-goal lead after 20 minutes. He fired a pass from the right point to Martin Straka, who redirected the puck while in a goal-mouth scramble.
Jiri Slegr, Jan Hrdina and Tyler Wright each collected goals in the second period to put the game out of reach and prompt a shower of jeers from Washington's home crowd. The Capitals were a league-best 26-7-8 at home.
Wright's tally came on a 2-on-none rush. Jagr looked like he was going to shoot the puck, but he fooled Kolzig in the slot and backhanded a pass to Wright, who had to just tap the puck in for his first career playoff goal.
Game Two is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. EDT.