- The Washington Times - Monday, January 29, 2001


The Washington Capitals sat around between periods making good-natured fun of Chris Simon. Of course, if Washington's penalty-killers and goalie Olie Kolzig weren't atop their game, there might have been nothing to laugh about.

But the Caps defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 yesterday before a legitimate sellout (18,672) at MCI Center, taking the season series 2-1-1. It was a typical Caps-Flyers game rough and physical with a little controversy.

Sergei Gonchar, Peter Bondra, Adam Oates and Ulf Dahlen got the Washington goals, with Oates' game-winner coming in his 1,100th NHL game. Kolzig won his 21st game of the season, turning aside 33 of 35 shots during a game in which his team was shorthanded 12 minutes more than Philadelphia.

But it was the incident that left the Caps making fun of Simon that finalized the course of the game. The Caps led 2-1 at the time the left wing became involved with Flyers center P.J. Stock. Simon came out the loser big time, drawing three back-to-back minors (kneeing, elbowing and unsportsmanlike conduct) and a 10-minute misconduct.

Stock was doing his job, agitating all game, and he finally pealed Simon to the breaking point. The unsportsmanlike conduct penalty came for yapping at the officials, the misconduct for slamming the penalty box glass with his stick.

"I should keep my mouth shut after I get the penalty," Simon said, "but I'm an emotional guy and I let someone get the better of me… . The guys kind of rallied around me, kind of laughing in between periods, teasing me a bit."

Said coach Ron Wilson: "The guy is holding Si, he brushes him aside, the guy puts on an act and it ends up being a penalty. Si is just frustrated, as the rest of us were. I don't blame Si at all." Nonetheless, Wilson benched last year's leading goal-scorer for the rest of the afternoon after the penalties were served.

The fans counted down the final five seconds of the penalties, and there was a standing ovation from a good portion of the house for the defensive effort.

It could have been a disaster. Washington surrendered two power-play goals Saturday in Montreal and gave up one less than three minutes before Simon pulled off the rare triple. But the Caps prevailed, killing 4:27 to the end of the second period and the rest when the third period opened. So successful were the penalty-killers that the Flyers had only five shots in the six-minute span.

But penalty killing saps a team, especially one as old as the Caps. The penalty-killers were the only ones on the ice for an extended period of time in the second period (8:27), and the Caps were a tired bunch once 5-on-5 play finally resumed.

"I like the ice time, and I like to kill penalties," said the 38-year-old Oates, who logged 20:32 yesterday, a long day but not his longest. "I like to kill the penalties. I like to play defense. Our power play is working. Playing Philly motivates you, and to be honest I'm a very fortunate guy to be able to play that much."

Gonchar's goal was his 11th. Bondra's was his team-high 27th and came off a super pass from Andrei Nikolishin seconds after Kolzig made a series of acrobatic stops to keep Washington ahead. Dahlen's was into an empty net, his 11th of the campaign.

Washington did have a scary moment midway through the second period when Kolzig used his left collarbone to stop a huge drive from defenseman Danny McGillis. It stunned the goalie for a moment, then play continued.

"It hit me just on top of the chest bone," he said. "It's a good thing I started to wear a new throat guard a couple days ago. Danny's a big man, and he put all his weight into that one. It was fortunate that I didn't get it where there's no padding, or I could have been in real trouble."

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