- The Washington Times - Monday, February 10, 2003

Less than three minutes into last night's game against Montreal, Washington's Robert Lang and Brian Sutherby got off point-blank shots that Canadiens rookie goalie Mathieu Garon kicked aside.
Two minutes later, Dainius Zubrus and Josh Green came in on a 2-on-1. Zubrus, the former Canadien, ripped a shot into Garon, and the goalie stopped that, too.
Twelve minutes in, Jaromir Jagr took a brilliant feed from Michael Nylander and got off a point-blank shot, then tried to hammer the rebound back from where it came. Zilch.
If this is starting to sound repetitious, it was that kind of night. A tired Montreal club scored a pair of goals that Olie Kolzig might have stopped on a better night and handed the Caps their fourth shutout of the season 2-0.
"We just weren't ready to play," Kolzig said. "We got 25 games left. They're a tired team, struggling with key guys out of the lineup, started their young goalie, and we just weren't ready. He made some big saves early for them. Don't get me wrong; we did have some great chances. But I would like to think we've got a better team in here than they do.
"It was just one of those nights, and we can't afford to have them any more. … It's that time of the year when you can't afford to have those kind of nights, but we've got to learn. I thought we learned last year that we can't give games away, and we might have done that tonight."
Jose Theodore, Montreal's MVP goaltender last season, sat out the game because he played (and lost) the night before in Toronto and because he hasn't exactly been playing like an All-Star this season.
Garon, 25, hadn't earned a win in the league since Oct.26, 2001, when he beat Buffalo. The 1996 draftee (44th overall) had a lifetime NHL record of 5-9-1 with two shutouts, a goals-against of 3.04 and a save percentage of .887 before last night. He played 50 games for the Quebec Citadelles in the American Hockey League this season before being recalled when the Canadiens traded Jeff Hackett.
"He's a guy I had in Hamilton when I coached there," said Canadiens coach Claude Julien, who broke a personal four-game losing streak with Montreal. "He is, in my mind, the best goalie in the [AHL]. For him to come out tonight and do what he did, he gained the confidence of his teammates [and] he showed me what he showed me all season [in Hamilton]. He was square to the puck all night. He had to make a couple big saves to keep us in there, but he was outstanding."
He may have been outstanding, but there were times when he didn't have to be. The Caps picked up where they left off the other night against the New York Islanders, going shotless in their first power play. They managed to make Garon react four times in their second opportunity with the extra man, but that still leaves them with five shots in their last seven power plays and on an 0-for-10 run.
Saku Koivu snapped off a wrist shot that beat Kolzig between the left elbow and the goalie's body at 17:54 of the second, and that was the winner. Former Cap Jan Bulis got the second goal 6:20 into the third on a backhander with defenseman Brendan Witt on him.
"It was one of those Sunday afternoon beer league games, and they were better than us at finishing," coach Bruce Cassidy said. "They're a tired team. They're not a big strong team, and I don't think we made them play our game or got them out of their game, out of their rhythm. We didn't do a lot physically against them.
"If we get one early, maybe it changes the complexion. That was the other thing: We needed a lift somewhere along the line. We needed to make something happen, a goal or a big hit or something. But it didn't happen, and the game slipped away."
Notes
Defensemen Rick Berry and J.F. Fortin and forward Alex Henry were the healthy scratches last night for the Caps. Henry was out to make room for Ivan Ciernik. Berry hasn't played since mid-January and Fortin since Dec.30, at least in the NHL. Fortin has been down to Portland twice for conditioning stints. … The Canadiens called up defenseman Mike Komisarek from Hamilton, Ontario, to replace Patrice Brisebois, who might have had heart problems, and then scratched him.

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