Last year, Glen Metropolit was the ninth-leading scorer in the International Hockey League, a career minor-leaguer stuck in Grand Rapids, Mich., hoping someone would give him a chance.
On Wednesday night, the 25-year-old rookie helped the Washington Capitals erase three weeks of frustration.
"It felt good, I was overwhelmed," Metropolit said. "You dream about getting your chance and scoring. I was lucky."
Metropolit started the season skating as a right wing on Washington's top line with Adam Oates and Peter Bondra. But he didn't make it two periods into the season opener before being benched because he couldn't keep pace with his swifter linemates.
He was sent to the Capitals' American Hockey League farm team in Portland, Maine, where he had five goals and three assists in 12 games until he was recalled to Washington on Tuesday.
"Now he's got to maintain it," Capitals coach Ron Wilson said. "The list is long of guys who come up in their first game and do well and then don't do much."
Washington, which had gone 0-5-1, averted its longest winless skid since an 0-7-1 drought from Feb. 1-March 5, 1998. The Capitals had not scored more than two goals in a game since beating Philadelphia 5-4 on Oct. 12.
"They were desperate to get a win we knew that," Ottawa defenseman Wade Redde said. "They had a tough road trip (0-3-1) and sooner or later they were going to break out.
Bondra added a goal and an assist for the Capitals and Oates assisted on both of Metropolit's scores.
Patrik Traverse scored for Ottawa, which had won two straight and four of five.
The Capitals killed off two Senators power plays and have now held off 16 consecutive man-advantage chances.
Bondra's team-high ninth goal made it 1-0 at 4:40 of the second period. Jan Bulis set up a 2-on-1 break and Metropolit passed to Bondra, who beat goaltender Ron Tugnett at the left post.
The goal marked the first time in five home games that Washington had scored first.
Just 1:07 later, Traverse tied it with his first goal of the year. He one-timed Bruce Gardiner's feed from the left boards, squeezing a shot between Olie Kolzig's glove and the right upright.
The Caps took a 2-1 lead on Metropolit's first career goal at 7:22. Metropolit stayed with the play after his shot from the left circle was blocked and skipped off Adam Oates' stick, and converted from close in on the left side.
Oates and Metropolit teamed again as the Caps took a two-goal lead 1:24 into the third period. Oates dug the puck out of the right corner and worked a pretty give-and-go, with Metropolit, who had played 291 minor league games before making his NHL debut in the Capitals' season opener, scoring on a slapshot from the right circle.
Working with a rare, third-period lead, Washington held the Senators to three shots in the final 20 minutes.
"Our defense wasn't confident with the puck," Redden said. "We were tentative, more so in the third than anywhere else."
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