- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 9, 2000

BOSTON The goaltending rotation for the remainder of the season has been decided by the Washington Capitals. Olie Kolzig plays 19 games in a row, and backup Craig Billington gets one.
Billington made that one count last night. He saw his first ice time since Dec. 21 in Edmonton, turned aside 49 shots if the Boston statisticians are accurate (which they are not) and backstopped the Caps to a 2-2 come-from-behind draw with the Boston Bruins.
Inflated stats or not, Billington was the difference last night, especially in the first period, when Washington was outshot 20-2 according to the stat sheet or 15-7 if you are a realist. The big stop for the veteran came just 2:47 into the game, when he rejected Andre Savage's offering off a breakaway. The 51 shots against the Caps were a season high.
Two defensemen, Sergei Gonchar and Ken Klee, got the Washington scores as the Caps ran their post-Christmas record to 13-2-4. It was not a pretty performance by either team, but none was expected after five days without competition and barely an hour of practice.
"They took a lot of shots from the perimeter and forced me to control the rebounds early," Billington said. "They just kept getting pucks to the net from everywhere, and our defense did a good job blocking out so I had a chance to get the rebound. It was good to get a point out of it."
The last time Billington was in net was four days before Christmas, when he allowed five goals to Edmonton in just two periods. He wasn't kept out of the nets for 19 games because he played poorly against Edmonton the team was awful in front of him but because coach Ron Wilson wanted to ride Kolzig's hot streak as long as possible.
"I was just saying to Olie that it's always interesting when you're in my role and you get a chance to play and see how you actually feel," Billington said, "because it will really tell the story of what you have been doing or haven't been doing. It's good when you go in there and you feel good. It tells you that the work you're doing and the drills you're doing are the right things. Obviously, to get a point was terrific, but I felt good out on the ice, and that was good for me. You can practice all you want, but it's not like playing."
Billington got beat on a power play by Savage when Klee had no stick, effectively giving Boston a two-man advantage, and the defenseman couldn't cover a rebound. Billington was beaten again when Dave Andreychuk reached out to redirect an Anson Carter pass through the goalie in the closing seconds of the second period.
Gonchar's goal, with assists from Jim McKenzie and Joe Sacco, came off the cycling drills the Caps do daily in practice. The drills create motion and confusion and, if executed properly, leave a man open. It was the defenseman who blasted a shot at Byron Dafoe that the former Cap nearly got as he dove from side to side. It was Gonchar's 14th goal of the season after he went the first 25 games of the year with none.
The tying score was a blast into the far side from the right hashmarks. Richard Zednik spotted Klee crossing through the zone and fed the puck through traffic. Klee hammered it back and past Dafoe with just 3:56 left in regulation. It was his fourth goal of the season.
The Caps were caught up again in the league's renewed enforcement of goalie-protection rules. Peter Bondra was called twice, the second time with 69 seconds left in overtime, for interfering with Dafoe. Adam Oates, Calle Johansson and Brendan Witt killed off the 4-on-3 disadvantage, but there were a few scary moments.
Notes Boston's statisticians always has been somewhat suspect, and last night was no exception. The Bruins were credited with 20 shots on Billington in the first period even though that wasn't accurate. Nonetheless, that is the most shots the Caps have given up in a period this season (the Islanders had 19 on Nov. 27). Washington had 21 against Florida in the second period Dec. 4, a game the Caps lost 2-1 …
With James Black out with a broken leg, the Caps are down to one extra player, and last night it was utilityman Mike Eagles.

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