The teams took turns scoring goals. Fortunately for the Washington Capitals, Peter Bondra scored last.
On a see-saw night when four players -- Stu Barnes, Jaromir Jagr, Chris Simon and Bondra -- got three points each, Bondra's explosive slap shot from the top of the right circle with 3:48 to go was the difference in Wednesday night's 5-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"Every time we score, they come right back down at the other end and score," Washington coach Ron Wilson said. "It was up and down, up and down, even right to the end."
Bondra, who got his 500th career point with a second-period goal, finished with two goals and an assist, a welcome performance for a player who scored 52 goals last season but has slumped at times in the Capitals' slow start.
After launching his game-winner, Bondra fell to his knees, pumping his arms in relief and celebration.
"You work hard, sometimes it needs a little bit of luck," said Bondra, who has nine goals this season. "Tonight, I had it. Big goal for the team. Big win for the team."
Simon had a goal and two assists for the Capitals, who broke a two-game losing streak. Barnes scored three goals for his third career hat trick and Jagr had three assists to reach 28 points.
Barnes took four consecutive shots and scored on three of them over a span of more than 14 minutes, feasting on his old friend and former juniors teammate Olaf Kolzig.
"For years, I never could score against him," said Barnes, who has 12 goals this season, including eight in his last six games. "It was funny, I got one against him last year and tonight. A little love-fight out there, you know."
Martin Straka's 10th tied the game at 4-4 with 9:06 to go, coming only 24 seconds after Adam Oates had given the Capitals the lead for the fourth time. Jagr, who assisted on both of Barnes' power-play goals, alo set up Straka for his 23rd assist.
With the Penguins trailing 3-2 after two periods, Barnes tied the game 1:41 into the third with his second power-play goal by stuffing in the rebound of his own blocked shot.
Simon opened the scoring by putting away a nice fallaway pass from Brendan Witt 39 seconds into the second period. Barnes responded at 7:22 with a slap shot that Kolzig, screened by Dmitri Mironov, never saw.
At 12:18, Bondra, taking a pass from Calle Johansson, raced down the center of the ice on a breakaway. Goalie Tom Barrasso blocked the first shot, but Bondra put in the rebound to make it 2-1.
Barnes responded again, sliding in Rob Brown's cross-crease pass on a power play at 15:08. The Capitals took back the lead when Andrei Nikolishin skated around a pile of three players, including Barrasso, to scoot home a loose puck at 18:44.
"It was certainly an entertaining game," Pittsburgh coach Kevin Constantine said. "Of course, you want to be on the winning side."
Earlier in the day, the Penguins traded Petr Nedved, Chris Tamer and Sean Pronger to the New York Rangers for Alexei Kovalev and Harry York. York was at the MCI Center but did not suit up. Kovalev is expected to join the team Thursday.
The Capitals played without suspended players Richard Zednik, who is sitting out four games for high-sticking a player in the face, and Craig Berube, out for three games for abuse of an official during the 12-player fight last Saturday at Boston. Also, team officials said Jan Bulis, who sprained his ankle in the Bruins game, will be sidelined four to six weeks.
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