- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 29, 2002

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. The Washington Capitals complained bitterly about the officiating last night, citing specific examples where they felt the calls were somewhat less than evenhanded.
But in the end, according to goalie Olie Kolzig, who had the best view of the action, the Caps were their own worst enemies.
New Jersey defeated Washington 2-1 in overtime when Scott Niedermayer scored with 50 seconds left in the extra session. The loss snapped Washington's four-game winning streak and five-game unbeaten streak, both season highs.
The Caps were clearly outplayed. They were outshot 40-15, 7-1 in the extra period. They took twice as many penalties as the Devils (six to three) and allowed New Jersey to run roughshod over them, despite the fact that the Caps have been playing well for quite some time.
But what the Caps didn't do was score more than once. They had opportunities but couldn't beat Martin Brodeur more than that one time.
"We had opportunities on the power play, we didn't capitalize, they did and that's the bottom line," Kolzig said. "Some nights you're going to get calls going your way, some nights you're not. I'd like to say something but I have two kids to raise."
The critical call came 2:51 into the extra period when Washington was penalized two minutes for too many men on the ice. The call was accurate, no doubt, but what was missed was the reason for the infraction Jaromir Jagr was on a breakaway when he was tackled by Devils defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky and held on the ice. Mike Grier came on the ice in anticipation of Jagr coming off and the whistle blew.
"I was half expecting a penalty shot," said Caps coach Bruce Cassidy. "Hopefully the league looks at that and does something about it."
It wasn't just the non-call over the Jagr incident that led to the overtime penalty that set off Cassidy and his players. There were others.
"Jagr got a two-handed slash from behind at the end," Cassidy said. "I thought the first [Devils] goal was a direct result of an interference call that wasn't called, then the breakaway."
And with three minutes left in regulation Robert Lang was hit with a very marginal slashing penalty "and to me that's the exact same thing they did to Jagr except they got Jagr on the arm and we got them on the stick."
Even with the questionable calls, it still was not one of the Caps' better games of late. New Jersey has scored three power play goals since Thanksgiving and all three have been against Washington during the past two games. That speaks volumes about a penalty killing unit that has struggled.
Despite the loss, the Caps did get a point for forcing overtime and that moved them past Carolina and into eighth place in the Eastern Conference. It is the highest the Caps have been in the standings since Nov. 18.
"You look at the shots and it looks like we got dominated," Cassidy said. "I don't know if we got dominated, but we got outplayed. We'll move on. We've played better of late; tonight wasn't one of our better efforts over the last two weeks."
Washington opened the scoring but it took the officials some time to declare it a goal. Brian Sutherby passed into the slot from the left boards. Kip Miller, who had two assists in Friday night's 3-2 win over the Devils, was awarded the goal after the puck deflected off his left skate and past Martin Brodeur. What officials might have been looking at on the replay was Miller's left skate, which he appeared to turn at the last second to direct the puck into the cage.
The Caps should have been buried after the second period but Kolzig, as usual, kept his team in the contest with several remarkable stops. There was one, however, he couldn't make.
Left wing Christian Berglund led a 3-on-1 rush into the Washington zone 6 minutes into the second the Devils caught the Caps in a bad line change and Berglund took the shot himself. He deked, then let a backhander loose that Kolzig might have had but the shot got a little extra juice from Brendan Witt when he got a stick on it trying to knock it aside.

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