- The Washington Times - Friday, November 3, 2000


ST. LOUIS For just a few seconds early in the second period last night, the Washington Capitals on the ice thought goalie Olie Kolzig had a puck trapped between his pads and a whistle would stop play. The Caps paused, waiting for the stoppage. The St. Louis Blues didn't hear any whistle and didn't stop.

And therein lies the difference in the game.

Kolzig and St. Louis goalie Brent Johnson played excellent hockey, but it was the Blues' netminder who won 2-0, the second goal an empty-netter with 24 seconds left. It was the first goal that hurt.

Washington (2-6-4-1) had just killed off a penalty against Kolzig called for slam-dunking Michal Handzus into his net when Dallas Drake drilled a shot down the slot. Kolzig made what everybody thought was a routine stop, closed his legs and waited for a whistle so the tired Caps could change lines.

There was no whistle. The puck wasn't lodged between the goalie's legs but fell onto the ice in front of him, where the Blues could see it but Kolzig couldn't. He finally did and tried to swipe it off to one side while his teammates stood around as if a whistle had blown.

It hadn't, which the Blues' Pavol Demitra knew. He was to Kolzig's left around the side of the cage, grabbed the loose puck and tucked it in the side past defenseman Dmitri Mironov, who was casually leaning on the cage. The time was 5:31 of the second, but the game was over.

"It hit me in the pants, and I was late to get my gloves in front of me to hold the puck," Kolzig said. "I thought I got there in time for the wraparound, but I don't know how he put it in. It was a broken play, they got the puck to the net, and that's how you create goals. We did the same thing, we created a lot of things, but we didn't get any goals."

A large part of that was due to Johnson, the 23-year-old Massachusetts product. He stopped all 30 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season; he is now 5-0-0.

"Olie made all the key saves, but that kid threw a shutout at us, and that was the only way they were going to win the game," said Caps coach Ron Wilson, who indicated he was very proud of his team.

"We played a great road game," Wilson added. "We pretty much dominated the play in the third period. Johnson made a tremendous number of saves. If we can put forth the same effort and be consistent throughout lineup, we're going to win a lot of games. I think we're finally feeling comfortable about ourselves."

What he didn't say was that the Caps had numerous chances in the first period, especially when they had four consecutive power plays, but did little to create anything. Washington displayed a casual attitude as if there was plenty of time to get something started, when in reality they were involved in a goalie confrontation. The wasted chances of the third period came back to haunt them, especially in view of a strong final period that went for naught.

Notes The Caps stay here overnight, then fly to Fort Lauderdale for an afternoon practice. Washington plays reeling Florida tomorrow night and is in Tampa on Sunday night. That is followed by four straight home games, the high point of the season thus far… . Left wing James Black and right wing Joe Murphy were the scratches, with defenseman Ken Klee still nursing a sore right wrist after surgery. He is expected to come back at some point during this trip and was removed from the injured reserve list Wednesday when Rob Zettler was returned to Portland, Maine… .

Remi Royer, the tough guy the Caps picked up last summer from Chicago, has been suspended for two games in Portland for coming off the bench to fight. Stephen Peat is still out with a groin injury and Jamie Huscroft is sidelined with a concussion, leaving the Pirates suddenly short on defense… . Left wing Brad Church, a former Caps first-round draft pick, was American League player of the week.

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