As time wound down with the Washington Capitals holding a comfortable three-goal lead, things suddenly got uncomfortable. That lead over Dallas became a one-goal cushion with 2:03 to play -- an anxious time, especially for a veteran goaltender who had never beaten the Stars.
"As a goalie, you dream of those situations," said Olie Kolzig, who made the one-goal advantage stand as the Caps beat the Stars 4-3 last night at Verizon Center. It was Washington's second straight win and Dallas' third straight loss.
"With the game on the line and a one-goal lead, the other team pressuring you, I like to think I come through more times than not," Kolzig said. "I thought we wouldn't get to that stage when it was 4-1 with five minutes to go, but they're a veteran team, they've got skill and they poured the coals to us at the end. The bottom line is we won.
"And I think that kind of rounds it out for the NHL, doesn't it?"
With last night's win over the Stars, Kolzig now has at least one win over the other 29 NHL teams. Kolzig had been 0-9-1 against Dallas with a goals-against average of 3.50, nothing to brag about.
Kolzig played a strong game, but he also had plenty of support. It was 2-0 after the first period, but the Stars made it a 2-1 game seconds into the middle period.
Washington shot out to a 4-1 lead before the second was over, though, and played aggressive defensively for most of the rest of the game. The Caps often kept Dallas penned up in its own zone for minutes at a time, beating the Stars to loose pucks.
"Our speed was a huge factor tonight, and that gave us the two points," coach Glen Hanlon said. "It was a great game with our youthful exuberance and speed. The pace of our game was as good as it has been. It was the difference against a team that has played three games in four nights."
The game was marred by an injury to Washington defenseman Jamie Heward with about five minutes left in the contest. He sustained a deep cut in the face from one of Mike Modano's skates and will be sidelined indefinitely, according to a team spokesman. The exact extent of the injury was not known last night.
Washington got goals from Richard Zednik, Chris Clark, Matt Pettinger and Alexander Semin, the latter netting his 10th of the season to match his career high. It was also his second in as many games since returning from an injury.
The game marked the return of Potomac native Jeff Halpern, who had been a Caps stalwart for six seasons and served last season as the team captain. He did not figure in the scoring.
"After the first little while, especially after going down 2-0 pretty quick, you start forgetting who you are playing and where you are," Halpern said. "It wasn't the effort I personally would have liked, coming back here. It's a tough loss."
Alex Ovechkin missed a penalty shot attempt in the second period, his third penalty shot miss in his brief career. He deked one way, the goalie didn't follow and he lost control of the puck.
Notes -- Brett Hull, son of Hall of Famer Bobby Hull and a solid player himself, was traveling with the Stars. Dallas hired him as a consultant when he retired from Phoenix. ...
Center Dainius Zubrus was a late scratch. The team said he was ill but did not go beyond that. He did not practice Tuesday, and the team said he was being rested. Zubrus has just one point in his last five games and was minus-8 defensively while the team was going through its losing streak. Jakub Klepis took Zubrus' place centering the first line. ...
The Caps are home against Buffalo tomorrow with the unusual starting time of 8:08 p.m. The game was scheduled for a late start when the Caps were told there would be a basketball game -- since canceled -- in the building in the afternoon.