- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 7, 2001

TORONTO But for a bad goal and more than a few defensive lapses, the Washington Capitals' four-game winless streak would have been snapped last night. Instead, the streak reached five.
The Caps rebounded from what has now become a typically horrible first period to play their way into a second period tie only to see that evaporate in a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs last night.
The Caps, 0-4-1 in their last five, open a three-game homestand tomorrow night and play six of their next seven at MCI Center, where they play much better than on the road this season. Or where they treat themselves much better, depending on your point of view.
And the club may have lost more players last night. Defenseman Brendan Witt was visibly in agony last night on the bench in the third period, doubled over in pain. And defenseman Joe Reekie left the game in the first period, returning for spot duty in the third. There was no definitive injury report on either player, nor was their availability for the Carolina game tomorrow night known.
"It's been a while since we generated that much offense, but [goalie Curtis Joseph] made a lot of saves. The post saved him. We even had a penalty shot, and he made a great save on Joe Sacco there," coach Ron Wilson said. "The effort was there, but we still had a couple blown defensive zone assignments when you need it. We were in position to get a point, we had the other team on their heels for most of the second half of the game and we gave at least one point away."
The first period was played primarily in the Washington end, but the second was played primarily in the Toronto end, as if someone snapped fingers in the dressing room between periods and woke up the Caps.
"First of all we talked about skating," Wilson said when asked what was said between the first two periods. "We hadn't skated and couldn't feel sorry for ourselves. [Toronto] got a quick one-two there, our knees buckled and we didn't recover until the start of the second period. Give our team some credit for bouncing back. We gained some momentum from power plays, and it continued. It was a solid road effort. Unfortunately, we couldn't come up with a point."
Left wing Jonas Hoglund whipped around the corner and swept in a rebound in the third period for the winner, snapping a 2-2 tie in the third period. Mikael Renberg added a late tally in the last two minutes.
It was the 12th time in 15 games this season that Washington has allowed the first goal in a game and the 11th time that the Caps have surrendered a goal in the first 10 minutes of a contest.
Ineffective penalty killing produced the first Toronto goal when defenseman Dmitry Yushkevich ripped a shot from the right circle under goaltender Olie Kolzig's right pad at 6:57.
Inattention to detail led to the second, just 12 seconds later. Tie Domi came in on Kolzig and put an excellent move on the goalie, who still came up with a good save. But the puck lay there in the crease with Kolzig unable to reach it and his teammates responding as if their skates were affixed in concrete. Garry Valk reached in and tapped it in the net for a 2-0 lead.
The rest of the period followed a script that has become frustratingly familiar. For nearly 13 minutes only Kolzig played as if he had a pulse, turning aside onslaught after onslaught. Take him out of the equation and the Leafs' lead may have been double figures.
But Kolzig kept his team in the game until the coma wore off and it awoke. And when they came to life, it produced the same result as the first 20 minutes, only reversed.
Sergei Gonchar, who hadn't scored in 11 games, unloaded a 45-foot slap shot on Joseph during a power play at 7:23 of the second, with the puck glancing in the net off the goalie's glove. Andrei Nikolishin fed Gonchar for the score after nearly putting one past Joseph himself.
Just 1:27 later the game was tied. This time Nikolishin fed Peter Bondra as the wing was crossing the top of the slot. Bondra shot off balance, leaning to his left, and still snapped the shot past the Toronto goalie into the top right corner.


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