Work in Sports
PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Jaromir Jagr is backing up his words.
Jagr's power-play goal 5:49 into overtime gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals and a commanding two games to none lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Before the series, the reigning Hart Trophy winner declared he wanted to duplicate the feat of Penguins owner Mario Lemieux by bringing the Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh. After collecting four assists in Thursday's opener, Jagr set up the Penguins' first goal before getting the game-winner.
Defenseman Ken Klee gave Pittsburgh its second power play of the extra period when he was penalized for holding at 5:08. Jagr had the puck along the right boards by the faceoff circle and held it there for several moments before taking a couple of strides toward the net. He snapped a perfect wrist shot that sailed over goaltender Olaf Kolzig's left shoulder and under the crossbar for his third career playoff overtime winner.
"All game long, we didn't do anything on the power play," Jagr said. "I didn't want to shoot it. I haven't shot very well. I just tried to put it on the net. You don't look, just shoot on the net. It was a difficult angle, (you) hope that somebody gets a rebound."
It was Pittsburgh's only goal on nine power-play chances but put the Penguins in the driver's seat in the best-of-seven series. Because of a scheduling conflict, Game Three also will be in Pittsburgh on Monday before the Capitals host the next two contests, if necessary.
"We're still far away. Anything can still happen in this series," said Penguins right wing Alexei Kovalev. "Being up 2-0 doesn't mean that much."
Peter Bondra scored the lone goal for Washington, which improved from an embarrassing 7-0 home loss in the opener but has never won a playoff series after losing the first two games.
"I thought we played a great game," Caps coach Ron Wilson said. "I can't control what is a penalty and what isn't. One team is allowed to do something, and the other team pays the price. It is very frustrating to see the other team get warned for interfering, for slashing, and the same offenses, we don't get one warning and we are in the box."
Pittsburgh had another power play earlier in overtime after Klee broke his stick across Jagr's body in the final minute of regulation.
"I thought that was an awful call in overtime, but what can you do?" Wilson asked. "Kenny Klee slashed Jagr at the end of regulation and Jaromir Jagr hit him over his head with his stick. The referee says he didn't see that. Had it been the other way around, he certainly would have seen Chris Simon hit someone over the head with his stick. I don't accept that explanation when there are two officials on the ice."
Simon, who led the Capitals with 29 goals during the season, served a one-game suspension for cross-checking Peter Popovic in the series opener.
Penguins coach Herb Brooks wasn't about to second-guess referees Don Koharski and Paul Stewart.
"A penalty is a penalty is a penalty, I guess," Brooks said. "I didn't get a good look at the call. Obviously, it was big for us to score on the power play."
While Jagr got the glory, goaltender Ron Tugnutt kept the Penguins in the game with 37 saves. He stopped all 27 shots over the final two periods and overtime after Bondra scored a power-play goal on a deflection 17:18 into the game.
Tugnutt, acquired before the trade deadline from Ottawa in a deal for Tom Barrasso, Pittsburgh's all-time winningest goalie, was at his best in the second period, when he came up with six saves during the same power play.
"To have success in the playoffs, your goaltender has to play well," Jagr said. "Tugnutt did that today. ... We stole this game, shouldn't have won."
"At the beginning of the second period was the defining moment," Brooks added. "Tugnutt was outstanding. Our penalty-killers did just a great job."
Pittsburgh tied it at 14:06 of the second period on Jan Hrdina's second goal of the series. Kolzig stopped Jagr's slap shot, but Hrdina got to the rebound and backhanded it past the goalie.