The Washington Times - March 18, 2013, 12:26AM

A funny thing happened on the way to Steve Ott and Steve Oleksy dropping the gloves. The Buffalo Sabres agitator asked the Washington Capitals rookie defenseman to fight, then didn’t.

Ott took punches just to draw a penalty.

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“Steve Ott’s been doing that for years,” coach Adam Oates said. “If anything give them two each, He goes up, we got it on the video, he went up [and said],‘Let’s go!’ and Stevie drops his gloves. And the ref…very frustrating.”

Oates and his staff warned Oleksy that Ott was known for those kinds of antics and to be prepared.

“But it’s still hard when a guy kind of confronts you,” Oates said. “Because part of being a fighter is you got be ready so the guy doesn’t get the drop on you with the first punch. That’s part of it and the guy knows how to play that game.”

That was Oleksy’s problem. In his eighth NHL game, he couldn’t afford to give Ott a head start if the Sabres center actually fought when he said he would.

“It’s a tough position,” Oleksy said. “Any fighter will tell you, when you’re in tight with a quick drop, if he comes through with one and I’m not ready, it only takes one at this level. The guys are too strong and throw too hard. You have to be ready whenever.”

Oleksy was ready because Ott tried to stir things up earlier in the night. Two minutes into the third period, he tried to shove Nicklas Backstrom before captain Alex Ovechkin came up from behind and face-washed Ott to pull him away.

“Obviously we’re without [defenseman John Erskine] in the lineup; some teams might think they’re stronger than they are,” center Mike Ribeiro said. “To have the captain step up like that, I think it’s just great for the team.”

Ovechkin and Ott each got two minutes for roughing.

“It’s his game,” Ovechkin said of Ott. “He’s good player and he try to do everything he can for his team.”

Ribeiro and Ott were teammates with the Dallas Stars for six seasons.

“He’s a guy that you hate to play against but you love to have on your team,” Ribeiro said. “You like to have him when you play with him, and he’s [one of the] guys that you hate when you play against them.”

While in their respective penalty boxes, Ovechkin and Ott exchanged some words. “We just talk about some little things,” the Caps star said. “Nothing major.”

But Oleksy considered what Ott did to Backstrom and Ovechkin major enough to want to fight him.

“Obviously he was trying to take liberties on Ovi and Backstrom there. He was playing that game the whole night,” the 27-year-old tough guy said. “I’d rather it me than guys like Ovi and Backstrom. If somebody’s going to take liberties like that, they should pay the price.”

Oleksy got penalized two minutes for roughing because Ott didn’t engage in the fight. He was ticked off that it happened.

“Yeah, it’s a weird move, and it’s tough,” Oleksy said. “I think everybody in the stands saw what he was doing all night, and he kind of got away with some things, but it is what it is.”

Oates hoped that officials would have given Ott two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct to even things out. And Ott wasn’t done annoying the Caps.

“At the end when he taps Backy’s helmet off the faceoff,” Oates said, “that should be 10 minutes, get out of here.”