- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 16, 2000

The Washington Capitals won their ninth straight home game last night, bettering the team record by one, and in the process vanquished a quality opponent from the troublesome Western Conference.

The Caps beat the Colorado Avalanche 2-1, running their undefeated streak at MCI Center to 12 (10-0-2). Left wing Chris Simon, who won a Stanley Cup ring with Colorado five years ago, was the star with a goal, an assist, a critical blocked shot at the end and one of his best games with the Caps.

"Simon was on a mission tonight," coach Ron Wilson said after his team's victory over the season-long leader of the Northwest Division. "That's the best he's played against Colorado since I've been here. He wanted to prove something, and he had a great game."

Every goal last night was scored on a power play. Simon got the first, the Avalanche's Milan Hejduk got the second and Adam Oates had the game-winner a split-second before the second period ended.

That goal, in itself, was a stunning development. Such a goal rarely happens once in a season but has now happened twice in three weeks in the Caps' favor. The first time was Jan. 28 against Phoenix, when defenseman Calle Johansson scored right before time expired in overtime to break a 2-2 deadlock.

Last night Oates, to the right of goalie Patrick Roy, skated out from behind the goal line in the closing seconds of the middle period. Simon had the puck and was doing the same to Roy's left. He whipped a a pass toward Oates, and the center let go with a wrist shot. The puck went in off the future Hall of Famer's right pad, and the red light flashed, indicating it was scored before time ran out.

"I've been here four years now, and this is my team," Simon said when asked whether he still had feelings about his days with the Colorado franchise. His tenure ended when he held out and was was traded to the Caps.

"There's only a handful of guys on that team that I played with when we won the Cup," Simon said. "It's great that the team played really well, and our hats are off to [goalie Olie Kolzig]. He outplayed maybe one of the best goaltenders ever to play the game. He made the big saves when we needed them and he held us in there."

Both teams took shots that appeared to go in Peter Bondra six minutes into the second for the Caps and Brian Rolston 8 and 1/2 minutes into the third for the Avalanche. Both teams also caught iron during the course of the game, the last Joe Sakic with less than five minutes to go.

Simon connected 7 and 1/2 minutes into the second when he took a feed from Oates, kicked the puck from his right foot to the blade of his stick and wristed a shot past Roy on the short side. He said he had been practicing that drill yesterday morning at the pregame skate.

Kolzig's chance for a shutout ended when Hejduk picked up a rebound from an Adam Deadmarsh shot and lifted it over him to tie the game at 1-1.

Oates' assist moved him into a tie for 14th on the all-time assist list with 873, shared with Phil Esposito. His two points moved him into 30th place on the all-time points list with 1,171, past Bobby Hull.

Notes Last night was left wing Jim McKenzie's 600th NHL game. His role is defined by the number of penalty minutes he has 1,312. That's 35 minutes spent in silent contemplation in the penalty box for every goal he's scored… .

Ken Klee returned from the bruised foot he sustained in Nashville, meaning rookie Alexei Tezikov was a spectator, along with forwards Mike Eagles and Terry Yake… .

After a one-game home stand, the Caps are sufficiently refreshed to return to the road. They are in Chicago on Friday night, Philadelphia on Saturday night and Carolina on Monday afternoon. After that, Washington has only seven more road games this season.

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