- The Washington Times - Friday, January 20, 2006

Even before the Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues reached a shootout last night at MCI Center, Caps goalie Olie Kolzig had to stop a penalty shot.

In the first minute of overtime Kolzig saved a Mike Sillinger penalty shot, which had been awarded when Ivan Majesky closed his hand over the puck in the crease. Washington went on to win 5-4 when Matt Pettinger, who missed the previous four games with an injury, beat St. Louis goalie Curtis Sanford with his team’s first shot in the sudden death portion of the shootout, the segment of the game designed to break ties.

The Caps extended the Blues’ losing streak to eight while running their own shootout record to 6-3. Washington is on a three-game winning streak, its longest of the season and longest since Jan. 10-13, 2003. Facing a penalty shot in overtime was just one of the twists in a game that neither team could take over.

Three of the Blues’ four goals came on their eight power plays as the Caps’ improving penalty killing had a tough night.

“It was one of those games at the start when I felt it was definitely going to be a winnable game,” Caps coach Glen Hanlon said. “As it started to go on, then a couple power play goals against and then, ‘Oh, no. This is going to be one of those games where you’re in total control and there’s going to be one bad bounce or something.’ ”

Kolzig, who made 30 saves, was not exactly dominant but he came up with the save of the overtime penalty shot and then turned back three of the four shootout chances he faced.

“I was just happy to get the win. It was an ugly game,” Kolzig said.

Even usually cheerful Alex Ovechkin was in a dour mood for part of the contest. Toward the end of the second period, he stormed to the bench, threw his mouth guard to one of the equipment managers and stormed back to the ice. He later said he was upset his team — and himself, he said — had played such a lackluster second period, allowing a goal and scoring none.

Ovechkin did get his name into the team’s record book, easing Bobby Carpenter (1981-82) into second place for most goals scored by a Caps rookie. Ovechkin got his 33rd last night and earned a key assist to continue his freshman rampage. He scored the first Caps shootout goal of the night, giving him six goals in nine tries, tops in the league.

But it was a night where muckers and grinders had a chance to shine. Besides Ovechkin, Washington’s regulation goal scorers were Ben Clymer (with his seventh), Chris Clark (ninth) and Brian Willsie (seventh). Pettinger got the winner, a goal that doesn’t count in his personal totals. Pettinger is now 2-for-4 in shootouts.

“I said from the beginning of the season I thought we had a better team than a lot of people predicted and I think we’re taking it up to another level now,” Kolzig said. “Guys are playing with a lot of confidence. We’re playing together, we’re gelling together.”

Notes — Center Jeff Halpern and defensemen Jamie Heward and Steve Eminger, all with “lower body” injuries, were out last night as the Caps’ total of man games lost to injury hit 113. All are listed as “day-to-day.” Veteran center Andrew Cassels was a healthy scratch for the ninth time in the last 10 games. The Caps practice at 11:30 a.m. today at Piney Orchard. Defenseman Nolan Yonkman took a hooking call early in the second period and probably saved a goal. Salute to the Military Night, with 6,000 tickets provided to service personnel in the area, drew a lengthy ovation from the crowd.

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