Olie Kolzig won his first game 11 seasons ago, a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders. He won his 250th last night by the same score against the same team.
The Washington Capitals goalie recorded the milestone victory at Verizon Center against the team he has defeated more than any other (24 times) in his fourth try at No. 250. Kolzig moved into a tie with Johnny Bower for 35th place on the NHL’s wins list.
“It’s a nice milestone, but it’s just 250, and hopefully there will be a lot more and a Stanley Cup,” the 35-year-old Kolzig said. “Physically I feel great. Mentally I feel great. For me, it’s all about family and where my family’s going to be in two years. I’ll probably play until I’m 40, but for now, just two [more] years and we’ll see where it goes after that.”
Caps coach Glen Hanlon, a former NHL goalie, enjoyed the milestone: “It’s a team game, but doggone it, [Kolzig’s] been a battler here, and it meant a lot to him. On nights like this when he gets a milestone, we just feel great, especially with the commitment he’s made to the community and the team and his wish to finish his career here.”
But Kolzig didn’t have the only standout performance last night. Alex Ovechkin and Bryan Muir had two goals apiece as the Caps put a serious crimp in New York’s effort to overtake Montreal and gain a playoff spot. The Islanders now trail the eighth-place Canadiens by nine points in the Eastern Conference.
The other Caps goal came from by left wing Jeff Friesen, who also assisted on one of Muir’s scores to give him 500 career points in 801 games.
Ovechkin, who also assisted on Muir’s first goal, is now in sole possession of second place on the NHL goal-scoring list with 41, one behind leader Jaromir Jagr of the New York Rangers. Ovechkin snapped the three-way tie for second place when Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk and Carolina’s Eric Staal did not score last night.
Ovechkin is the ninth Caps player to score 40 goals in season. Peter Bondra was the last when he scored 45 in 2000-01. His 41 goals ties him for second place all time among rookies with Eric Lindros in 1992-93. The record is held by Teemu Selanne, who had 76 in 1992-93.
“I don’t look at history,” Ovechkin said. “I feel no pressure. … I’m glad I’m scoring a lot of goals. I’m glad some of the goals are winning goals [a team-high four]. Right now our team is rebuilding, and probably next season or maybe in two seasons, we go to playoffs. We have a young team, and I feel grateful.”
The first period was dreadful, a continuous parade to the penalty box by both teams. Ovechkin opened the scoring 2:27 into the second, and Friesen broke a 1-1 tie. Then the 20-year-old rookie put the Caps up for good with a half-second left in the period.
“I was surprised because I know you cannot score in six seconds until the end of the period,” the Moscow native said. “I score [with a nice assist going to rookie defenseman Mike Green], and I watch half a second on the clock.”
Notes — The Caps Road Crew, a group of fans that attends the club’s away games, is raffling off an autographed Ovechkin game-worn jersey. Proceeds will go to Caps’ Charities. Tickets are available at the club’s table at Section 104. …
Defenseman Jamie Heward, who was run into the boards headfirst Saturday night in Atlanta, was a medical scratch with what the team is describing as an upper body injury. There is no estimate on how long he might be sidelined. …
Defenseman Steve Eminger was back in action after missing 16 games. He sprained an ankle when he caught a skate in a rut Jan. 13 in Anaheim. Some adjustments were made to the skate on the injured foot, and he was able to return. The Caps have lost 149 man-games to injury.