Series (Game 1 of 1)

Washington leads 1-0

Game 1: Friday, October 11th

Predators 4

(0-1-0, 0 pts)

Capitals 5

(1-0-0, 2 pts)

7:00 PM ET, October 11, 2002

Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia

1 2 3 T
NSH 1 1 24
WSH 0 2 35

R. Lang (Capitals - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

P. Bondra (Capitals - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 1

J. Jagr (Capitals - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 2

Cassidy leads revamped Caps to win in debut

WASHINGTON (AP) -- If the referees call every game like this, look out for the Washington Capitals. It's hard to beat a power play that features Jaromir Jagr, Peter Bondra and Robert Lang .

In a game that included 21 penalties, the Capitals scored three power-play goals -- including twice on 5-on-3s. It was during a two-man advantage that Lang poked in the winning goal with 1:04 remaining to give Washington a 5-4 opening-night victory Friday over the Nashville Predators.

"There were a lot of power plays and a lot of penalty killing,'' said Jagr, who had one goal and two assists. "Guys who don't play on the power play or penalty killing got about two shifts during the game. It's going to be tough for those guys.''

It was definitely tough on the Predators, who had three 5-on-3 deficits in the game. The league's crackdown on penalties made for a wild game that included five goals in the third period.

"You can't get any flow to the game when there's that many penalties,'' Nashville left wing Scott Hartnell said. "A lot of cheap stuff was called, suspect penalties.

"With all the new rules and stuff, you figure the refs would be at the top of their game, ready to go. But all those things happen. I don't know how many penalties there were, but it's a joke. Half the game is played with the power play. It's not fun.''

Bondra had two goals and an assist, including a goal that the ricocheted off the boards and hit goaltender Mike Dunham in the back before going in.

Lang is one of 10 new faces from opening day a year ago for the younger, faster and healthier Capitals, who also hired 37-year-old Bruce Cassidy from the minors as their new coach. Another newcomer, Kip Miller, had one of his three assists on Lang's winning goal.

Cassidy tried to play it cool after the game, saying the import of his first NHL victory hadn't sunk in it. Lang claimed otherwise.

"He was really excited. He was jumping up and down,'' Lang said. "Who wouldn't? I was, too.''

Stephen Peat also scored for the Capitals. Andy Delmore, Vladimir Orszagh, David Legwand and Greg Johnson netted for the Predators.

Nashville was called for 11 penalties, Washington for 10.

"You've got to be disciplined,'' Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "The first 5-on-3, we were taking a penalty and (Scott) Hartnell goes and punches someone. That's self-discipline right here. That was a turning point.''

Bondra scored his first goal during that two-man advantage, but the Predators also killed a 59-second stretch of 5-on-3 in the third period. The Capitals later did the same for 56 seconds. But the Capitals got one more chance at the two-man advantage when Clarke Wilm was called for obstruction and Cale Hulse for tripping Jagr 22 seconds apart. The Capitals had several chances before Lang knocked in the loose puck from the left side for the winner.

By the time the last power play was over, both teams had a renewed sense of how the game might be different this season.

"Teaching old dogs new tricks is never easy, but that's just the way it's got to be,'' Cassidy said. "Players will adjust.''

Game notes

With three points, Bondra needs 53 to become the franchise's all-time leader. ... Jagr is 29 goals from 500. ... Cassidy became the fifth of 12 Capitals coaches to win his first game with the franchise. Red Sullivan (1974), Danny Belisle (1978), Terry Murray (1989) and Ron Wilson (1997) were the others. ... The first-round draft picks of both clubs made the opening day roster. Washington's Steve Eminger (No. 12 overall) played Friday; Nashville's Scottie Upshall (No. 6) was a healthy scratch.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press