- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 15, 2002

For 17 years Adam Oates chased a shadow he thought was uncatchable, assisting on 1,000 goals in an NHL career. Only a handful of players had done it in the 85-year history of the league and to think you could include yourself in that company was almost heresy.
Oates reached his historic plateau last night at MCI Center and did it the way he had always dreamed about on the winning goal in overtime. It was a second assist on the play but if he hadn't found the right man to pass to, the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals might still be playing.
Dainius Zubrus scored 13 seconds into overtime as the Caps nipped the Bruins 1-0, Zubrus' goal preventing the Caps from playing their first scoreless tie at home. They have played two on the road, the most recent in 1998 in Calgary.
As it was, Olie Kolzig recorded his second consecutive shutout, running his scoreless string to 134 minutes, 34 seconds, dating back to the third period of the 3-3 tie against Toronto on Friday night.
Better yet, it gives him some bragging rights this summer his best friend, Bruins (and former Caps) goalie Byron Dafoe, was on duty at the other end of the ice.
It was a night when a lot of things happened for Washington. For the first time in months, the club moved into playoff position, albeit a shaky spot at No. 8 with a lot of competition. Nonetheless, no player in the locker room argued with the fact eighth was a lot better than 14th in the East, which is where the Caps were not too long ago.
It was also a night when the Caps reverted to "Plan B" again. Playing with the unorthodox system the Caps are 3-0-1, a modest streak but the longest unbeaten run of the season for Washington.
Even though the Caps had three scratches, coach Ron Wilson stuck with the system where two forwards check, a mobile defenseman plays high in a rover's slot and two defensemen operate where they normally do. Washington is allowing 1.00 goals a game using Plan B, a plan which was pushed into operation when the club barely had enough players to put a full team on the ice. It may become a permanent part of Game Day reading material, although not the only plan.
Oates, ever the realist, reveled in the limelight of his feat but quickly put things in perspective the Caps are still a game under .500 (19-20-8), and still need points to solidify their position in the race, possibly catching division leader Carolina.
"We've gotten five our of six points against two very good teams in Toronto and Boston, 1-0 here and 1-0 in Florida when we were very tired," the ever-youthful 39-year-old said. "Ken Klee and Sergei Gonchar have been fantastic and we have all banded together. The young guys have done a great job, Kolzig has played good. It's been working great."
Wilson got back to the part of the night everyone wanted to hear about.
"The highlight of the night is the fact that Adam Oates gets his 1,000th assist in overtime against the Boston Bruins," the coach said. "I think that's a night he'll remember for a long time."
Zubrus scored when he took a pass from Frantisek Kucera, who had taken a pass from Oates, crossed into the offensive zone and split the Boston defense. As he did, he was hauled down from behind but still had the situation under enough control that he was able to poke the puck through Dafoe, a product of the same draft that produced Kolzig.
Until then, it had been a scoreless duel at least partly because the Caps had not taken advantage of their opportunities while Kolzig was preventing anything from getting past him at the other end.
It was the first time in the Caps' 28-year history they have won back-to-back 1-0 games, although they lost more than a few in their sorry early history. But that was before Adam Oates.

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