WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two nights after the Washington Capitals gave
up the Southeast Division lead, Sergei Berezin helped them inch
their way back.
Berezin had a goal and an assist to lead Washington past the
Colorado Avalanche 2-1 Sunday, getting the Capitals to a point
of Tampa Bay for the division lead. The Lightning moved into first
when the Capitals lost at home to Los Angeles on Friday night.
Acquired from Chicago at the trade deadline, Berezin has scored
in his first two games with the Capitals, including what proved to
be the game-winner Sunday with 3:16 left in the first period. The
goals have been invaluable for the Capitals, who have played the
past three games without the injured Jaromir Jagr.
''I'm not on fire. I am playing with one of the best centermen
in the league, so that always makes it easier,'' Berezin said of
his linemate Robert Lang, who assisted on Berezin's goal. ''He made
a great play to give me an empty-netter. I don't get those often,
but I will take 20 of them.''
Sergei Gonchar scored the game's first goal during an aggressive
first period in which the Capitals outshot Colorado 13-6. The
defenseman knocked in a puck that deflected off Berezin's stick
into the slot with just more than eight minutes left in the
Joe Sakic scored for Colorado, which lost consecutive road games
for the first time this season. The Avalanche remain four points
behind Vancouver in the Northwest Division.
''It just shows how good we've been on the road, and it shows
how disappointing this weekend has been,'' Avalanche coach Tony
Granato said. ''There's 10 (games) to go, and there's no more time
for back-to-back losses.''
Just more than five minutes after Gonchar's goal, Lang skated into
the offensive zone and threaded a pass through defenders that
Berezin knocked in for his 20th of the season to make it 2-0.
''He's scored goals in two of our last two games. That's what he
does,'' Washington coach Bruce Casey said. ''He fits in nicely with
Robert Lang; they seem to have a little chemistry. I don't know if
he will stay there with (Kip) Miller and Jagr returning, we hope in
the near future, but we'll find a place for him. If he scores a
goal a game, we'll find a place for him.''
Alex Tanguay passed from behind the net to a cutting Sakic in
front, and he converted just less than three minutes into the period to
make the score 2-1. However, Colorado, playing without star center
Peter Forsberg because of a charley horse sustained in the defeat Saturday against Detroit, couldn't solve Kolzig (21 saves) again.
The Capitals have earned points in eight of their past nine
games. ... The game Sunday was Washington's last at home before its
six-game road trip through Canada that starts Thursday in Calgary.
... Colorado defenseman Bryan Marchment assisted on Sakic's goal;
it was Marchment's first point with the Avalanche since joining the
team earlier this month.