Series (Game 2 of 5)

Washington leads 4-1

Game 1: Thursday, October 17th
Game 2: Friday, January 10th
Game 3: Wednesday, January 22nd
Game 4: Friday, February 14th
Game 5: Sunday, March 2nd

Capitals 4

(19-16-2, 45 pts)

Hurricanes 1

(16-18-3, 41 pts)

7:00 PM ET, January 10, 2003

PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina

1 2 3 T
WSH 2 1 14
CAR 0 1 01

J. Halpern (Capitals - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

M. Grier (Capitals - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

A. Salomonsson (Capitals - LW): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

Hurricanes hear boos from home crowd

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The Washington Capitals spent all of last season chasing the Carolina Hurricanes in the Southeast Division.

 Kip Miller

The positions are reversed heading into the final 40 games this year.

Mike Grier and Kip Miller scored in the opening 9:31 as the Capitals gained at least a point in their 11th straight game with a 4-1 win over the slumping Hurricanes on Friday night.

The streaking Capitals improved to 6-0-3-2 during their recent hot stretch, while the Hurricanes have lost 11 of 17 and fell two games under .500 for the first time since Oct. 17 -- a 2-1 home loss to Washington.

"Our team is playing well right now and they don't need a lot of motivation or stepping on the gas," Washington coach Bruce Cassidy said.

Jeff Halpern and Andreas Salomonsson had two assists each for Washington, which tied Tampa Bay for first place in the Southeast. The Capitals also moved four points ahead of the defending Eastern Conference champion Hurricanes, who were booed throughout by many in the crowd of 16,553.

"Obviously they're frustrated and we're frustrated right now with not being able to put the puck in the net," Glen Wesley said. "We've got to stick together here as a group and believe we can do this. We've the ones that have dug ourselves a hole and we've got to get ourselves out of this very quickly."

Ron Francis' 15th goal early in the second pulled Carolina to 2-1, but Steve Konowalchuk gave Washington another two-goal lead seconds after getting out of the penalty box, beating Arturs Irbe on a rebound shot.

Peter Bondra's 16th through a maze of Carolina players 1:55 into the third put Washington up 4-1 and took the rest of the fight out of Carolina.

"In between the second and third, the main thought for everyone in the room was that we needed to start developing a killer instinct and put teams away," Grier said. "We came out from the start of the third and put pressure on them and kept an aggressive frame of mind."

The Hurricanes fell behind 2-0 halfway through the first -- and it could have been much worse.

Grier scored 46 seconds in when Carolina defenseman Sean Hill got caught out of position making a check across the blue line with the Hurricanes trying to make a line change.

"The coaches made us aware that they have been struggling a little bit in the first period and we wanted to come out hard at them and make it hard for them to come back," Grier said.

Carolina gained some momentum after killing off a 5-on-3 Washington power play for 1:27, but less than a minute later Miller beat Irbe from the slot on a nice feed from Salomonsson.

Bondra and Jaromir Jagr hit the right post in between the two Washington goals as the Capitals had Carolina's defense reeling.

"They've got some guys who can make you look foolish one-on-one and they certainly did at times," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "We just looked slow in all the things we did."

Game notes
Jaroslav Svoboda, who has gone 32 games without a goal, was a healthy scratch for the first time this season for Carolina. ... The Hurricanes have given up the first goal in 15 of their last 17 games. ... Francis wore a full face shield after getting 25 stitches in his lip late in the game against the New York Rangers on Wednesday. ... Halpern's 16 assists are two more than he had last season in 48 games. ... Carolina fell to 2-6-2-1 against Southeast Division opponents after going 11-3-5-1 last season. ... Bondra has 29 goals in 46 career games against Carolina.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press