Khristich, Capitals On Rolls -- Washington Unbeaten At Home In Nine Games
AP: Boston Globe
LANDOVER, Md. - Dimitri Khristich scored one goal and set up another as the Washington Capitals extended their home unbeaten streak to nine games yesterday by tying the Chicago Blackhawks 2-2.
Chicago, the best defensive team in the NHL, put the clamps on a Washington attack that had been averaging six goals in its past three games. But Khristich nevertheless extended his goal-scoring streak to four games with a second-period score that made it 2-2.
Khristich also got an assist on Kelly Miller's first-period goal. Jim Hrivnak stopped 29 shots for Washington, including a sprawling save on a close-in shot by Chris Chelios with three seconds left in regulation. Washington had to kill a two-minute penalty in overtime to stay unbeaten at home (7-0-2) since Nov. 20.
Chicago goalie Ed Belfour, 10-1-2 in his last 13 starts, had 18 saves. Michel Goulet and Dirk Graham scored for the Blackhawks, who have lost only one of their last nine road games.
Each team managed five shots in a 1-1 first period. The Capitals opened the scoring at 2:06 on Miller's slap shot from the right circle, and Chicago pulled even at 18:41 when Goulet took a pass from Brent Sutter in the slot, deked Hrivnak and lifted a backhander into the net.
The Blackhawks had an apparent second-period goal taken away after it was ruled that Steve Larmer kicked the puck into the net. Minutes later, however, Chicago's Christian Ruuttu sent a lead pass to Graham, who scored from the crease at 13:27.
Washington made it 2-2 when Khristich took a pass from Michal Pivonka and tapped in a power-play goal at 15:23.
NOTES -- Second-year Russian defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov caught the Blackhawks' Jocelyn Lemieux in the mouth with a high stick Tuesday night; the cut required 120 stitches. "You never see me do that," complained Lemieux, realizing his own reputation is that of something less than an angel. "He'll learn. Maybe when someone takes his knee out." Konstantinov's view: "I put my stick (waist-high). He is small guy. It was just an accident." -- How about the Capitals' Pat Elynuik and wife Colleen, whose son was born Christmas? His name: Campbell Patrick. -- The Flames finally came to contract terms with defenseman Gary Suter, who has stepped up during Al MacInnis' prolonged absence because of a separated hip. Suter signed a two-year deal worth $750,000 and $800,000. MacInnis passed a big test two weeks ago when doctors said the hip appears clean of any avascular necrosis (rotting of the joint that derailed Bo Jackson). The hard-firing defenseman has just started back on the exercise bike, could skate as early as Jan. 15 and might be able to play Feb. 15. He went down Nov. 11 at Hartford in an awkward fall into the boards. "Mostly, I feel lucky," said MacInnis. "It could have been worse." -- Mike Muller, a second-round choice of the Jets last season from the University of Minnesota, is playing with Moscow Dynamo this year. "My sister said it best," said Muller, home for the holidays. "It's shocking how nice they are to each other. They let each other play." According to Muller, the 6-foot-4-inch, 215-pound Viktor Kozlov is, indeed, "first-pick material. He's good and he's beefing up." -- A meeting Tuesday in Manhattan of the NHL's expansion committee could determine rules for a June draft, provided Miami and Anaheim will be ready to roll by October. Word is that each existing club might have to expose a goalie who has no fewer than 15 games of NHL experience.
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