- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2004

In a season where little has gone right for Washington, the lowly Capitals had been perfect when they led after two periods. But last night at MCI Center even that streak ended as Ottawa’s Marian Hossa scored with 4:23 remaining to force a 1-1 tie.

The Caps, outshot 48-19, had to survive a penalty to Brendan Witt for inadvertently high-sticking Peter Schaefer and drawing blood 1:02 into overtime. The four-minute power play was cut short after 1:42 by an interference call on the Senators’ Jason Spezza, and Washington’s Peter Bondra had a terrific chance in the final minute but couldn’t get off a shot.

Caps coach Glen Hanlon raved about 33-year-old goalie Olie Kolzig, saying he should keep his “sensational” performance in his memory banks for when he’s retired. However, Kolzig, who shut out Chicago on Sunday, was less buoyant after making a season-high 47 saves but not emerging victorious because Hossa beat him with a point-blank backhand on assists from Martin Havlat and Spezza with Sergei Gonchar in the penalty box for hooking.

“Penalties are killing us,” said Kolzig, who has allowed three goals on 127 shots in three games since the All-Star break. “Tonight was a chance for us to steal a win, but we took a penalty late and as many shots as they were getting to the net, one found a lucky bounce to a guy right in front and he put it in. We’ve got to realize how fortunate we are in a game sometimes and not take those penalties. We were lucky [the officials] evened it up in the overtime.”

Gonchar said his penalty wasn’t smart, but Hanlon said at that point the Caps “were just trying to hang on” for the upset of the powerful Senators.

Gonchar, the NHL’s top-scoring defenseman, had staked Kolzig to a 1-0 lead with 3:24 left in the second period with a one-timed slap shot from the blue line that beat Senators backup goalie Martin Prusek. Gonchar, who had six shots in the 10 games before he was hurt, had four last night for 12 in the three games since he returned from a seven-game absence with a separated left shoulder. The goal was his sixth of the season.

“I realized that I wasn’t shooting enough compared to earlier in the year and my other seasons,” Gonchar said. “So I’m trying to shoot as much as I can now.”

The game also marked the return of Caps owner Ted Leonsis, who hadn’t seen his team play since being suspended by the NHL on Jan.28 in the wake of a postgame scuffle with a fan three days earlier. Washington, which was outscored 10-3 by Ottawa in the two games in Canada’s capital, has been outshot in all 11 games since trading Jaromir Jagr to the New York Rangers on Jan.23 because of the five-time NHL scoring champion’s $11million salary.

After a scoreless first period, Ottawa started the second period with 22 seconds left on its third power play courtesy of Brian Willsie pulling Daniel Alfredsson down to Kolzig’s right. However, Spezza’s shot from the slot after a dazzling move with 4.5 seconds left in the first period was the only puck that got through to Kolzig during the advantage.

The Caps went on the power play at 3:13 of the second period when Chris Phillips tripped Anson Carter in front of Prusek. After Alfredsson fired high on a shorthanded breakaway, Mike Grier passed across the goalmouth to Robert Lang for the one-timer that Prusek had to slide to the left post to stop.

Gonchar scored on the next power play on a cross-ice feed from Lang at 16:36 with Hossa in the penalty box for obstruction holding.

Bondra had a great chance to extend the lead to 2-0 when he was sent in alone at 5:35 of the third period, but he fired high. Not long after, Kolzig stoned Josh Langfeld at the left post.

Lang set up Bondra for another opportunity at 11:45 but his backhand went wide. Kolzig gloved Todd Simpson’s bullet from the point at 12:38. With Ottawa pressing for the tying goal, Carter had a breakaway at 14:04, but Prusek made the save.

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