- The Washington Times - Friday, December 22, 2000


BUFFALO, N.Y. Olie Kolzig, who didn't become a starter in the NHL until the second game of the 1997-98 season, is well into the process of wiping the name of every other Washington goalie out of the Capitals' record book.
Last night Kolzig won his 128th career game, a 3-1 victory over Buffalo, to move into a tie with the retired Don Beaupre for most wins by a Washington goalie. It was a rather routine game for Kolzig all he had to do was stone the Sabres while he waited for his teammates' offense to get started.
Steve Konowalchuk (his ninth), Peter Bondra (13th) and Andrei Nikolishin (seventh) provided the offense as Kolzig ran his personal record against Dominik Hasek to 9-6-1, putting Hasek's assumed title of "world's greatest goaltender" somewhat in doubt.
"Fortunately, a goalie's success is determined by how the team plays," Kolzig said. "It was kind of a microcosm of our season so far. The first period was like we started the season, scrambly, sort of out of control. The second period we start to get things going and play in unison, and the third period we were in cruise control, everything was coming easy to us, not allowing any chances. You can look at that like the beginning, middle and end of our season last year and it looks like we're doing that again.
"It was a big victory, it was a good couple days for us. I plan to get a lot more victories than I have right now."
What Kolzig nearly did last night was get into a fight with Buffalo forward Vaclav Varada 13 minutes into the second. Varada had been bumped around in front of the net then came in contact with the 6-foot-3, 235-pound netminder who at the time was in a tie game and not in a friendly mood. Varada dropped stick and one glove before wiser, cooler heads jumped into the scene.
"We were on the road and trying to keep it simple," said Bondra. "They gave us a couple chances and we put them in. Before the game we knew it was going to be tight, either team is not going to score many goals [against] the two best goalies in the league. It was going to be a question of who was going to be more patient and tonight we were more patient."
For the Caps, the game may have been marred by the injury to defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who crumpled to the ice seven minutes into the middle period after taking a crunching hit from Erick Rasmussen. Gonchar had his head down, trying to dig a puck off the rear boards, when Rasmussen caught him cleanly, shoulder to chest. Gonchar left the ice under his own power but did not return.
Coach Ron Wilson said his star offensive defenseman (3-1-4 in his last three games, 5-5-10 in his last 10) probably suffered a slight concussion but would be reevaluated today back in Washington.
After a nearly comatose first period, Wilson shook up his lines and that move immediately paid off. He moved Konowalchuk to Adam Oates' top line and the left wing scored on his first shift. Bondra and Nikolishin scored with a new linemate, Matt Herr, after Richard Zednik was demoted to the fourth line. Zednik has just two goals in his last 22 games.

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