BRUINS 3, CAPITALS 2
Bruins cut to the chase
Lapointe's strike helps bury Capitals
When the Bruins signed right wing Marty Lapointe to a four-year, $20 million contract two summers ago, the club made it clear that although Lapointe could score points, they were bringing him in because of the many other qualities he brought to the table -- leadership, toughness, and a tireless work ethic.
Injuries took Lapointe out of the mix for most of his first season here and right knee surgery delayed his start to this season. But Lapointe is now hitting his offensive stride and last night he potted the key goal -- a power-play strike in the third period -- as the Bruins beat the Washington Capitals, 3-2, at the FleetCenter.
Goalie Andrew Raycroft, who won his fourth straight game, said the team is rooting hard for Lapointe.
"He deserves it, that's for sure," said Raycroft. "Last year was a bit of an aberration. He had some injuries and couldn't really get going. Everyone knows he's not that player. Everyone knows how much he means to everyone in here. Every period, he's getting guys going and getting guys fired up and letting guys know. He's on everybody. He just deserves all the goals he's getting."
The Bruins took a 2-0 lead in the opening period on two even-strength goals. Mike Knuble potted his team-leading ninth of the season when he beat Washington netminder Olaf Kolzig at 5:17. Joe Thornton, who had the puck in the right corner of the Capitals' zone, passed it to defenseman Ian Moran at the right point. Moran relayed to partner Hal Gill, who was just inside the blue line. Gill threw the puck at the net and it appeared to hit defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski before Knuble got control and netted a forehander.
It's no coincidence that Knuble's offensive production began Oct. 18 when coach Mike Sullivan reunited him with Thornton and right wing Glen Murray. The veteran has scored all of his goals in the past 15 games, the first coming against the Kings.
Murray, who has also benefited significantly from having Knuble back on the line, potted his seventh of the season on a heads-up play by Thornton.
The Bruins captain, positioned on the far left side of the ice, fired the puck up from the neutral zone and hit Murray charging down the right side. Murray skated into the right circle and drilled a slapper past Kolzig. Murray extended his point streak to eight games with six goals and three assists in that span.
The struggling Capitals got one back in the second thanks to an unfortunate carom. Kip Miller dished a pass to Jaromir Jagr in the left circle. Jagr took a shot and it bounced off defenseman Nick Boynton and eluded Raycroft at 18:34.
"I'm 2 for 2," joked Boynton, who inadvertently directed one into his own net against the Thrashers in Atlanta Wednesday. "I'm on a streak."
Boston went on top for good during the man-advantage on Lapointe's third goal in his last five games. With defenseman Jason Doig off for elbowing, 18-year-old Patrice Bergeron backhanded a pass from the left circle between the skates of defenseman Steve Eminger to Lapointe in front. Lapointe, while being hauled down, got a shot off and it hit Kolzig and trickled over him at 11:37.
Bergeron, who lives with Lapointe's family, has been instrumental in helping his linemate get going.
"They have good chemistry," said Raycroft. "[Bergeron's] obviously a lot more special than anyone thought two months ago, that's for sure. He works hard and he really understands this is professional."
The other forward on that line, Sergei Samsonov, said it's easy to tie yourself up in knots when the points aren't coming, and he understands what Lapointe has gone through.
"Sometimes it gets to you but I think Marty knows what he does best," said Samsonov. "He doesn't need to put pressure on himself to get goals. It's going to come as long as we keep working hard as a line. I think it's great. He does a lot for the team without putting himself on the scoring sheet. It's nice to see him starting to score and getting some points. It has to do a lot for his confidence."
After Lapointe's goal, the Capitals pulled to within one again on the power play when center Robert Lang fed defenseman Sergei Gonchar for a one-timer from the point to make it 3-2 with six minutes left. That assist extended Lang's point streak to 10 games.
"They're a desperate team and they've got a lot of talent out there," said Raycroft (20 saves). "People's jobs are on the line, so we knew they were going to come out hard. Overall, I think we played a solid game."
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.