- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 20, 2002

With less than a handful of seconds left in a one-goal game, Jaromir Jagr of the Washington Capitals shot. On the bench, Olie Kolzig shook MCI Center as he started jumping up and down, thinking the game was tied. Jagr did the same thing, starting to celebrate.
It wasn't to be. Jagr's shot struck metal, the inside of both posts, and shot back out as fast as it went in. The Caps had run out of time and, finally, shots.
San Jose never trailed last night but had to fight for its life coming down to the finish to get away with a 3-2 victory, extending Washington's winless streak to four.
The Caps had 48 shots on goalie Evgeni Nabokov, while Kolzig fielded 29, but it was the Washington goalie who emerged the star, stopping breakaway after breakaway as his teammates once again had lapses and the goalie was called on to bail out his club. He nearly did.
"We played great tonight," Kolzig said. "Once we got down 2-0 we got away from our game and they opened it up a little bit. But it's coming around. We had [48] shots, so it's just a matter of being patient. They had a couple seeing-eye pucks that found their way in again, but we haven't had any breaks. But I've always been a believer that things even out, and we're due for our fair share of breaks."
Actually, Washington had breaks but didn't capitalize. The team had a pair of two-man advantages the shortest 63 seconds but scored only once. The Caps had nine power plays overall with only the one score.
What the Caps didn't do was hit the back of the net enough despite their highest shot total of the season. The Caps have scored five goals in their last four games, not enough to win at this level.
"We were a lot better tonight than we were last week," coach Bruce Cassidy said. "We probably had more chances combined than the last three games. The guys played hard, [but] a couple individual mistakes were the difference. And we couldn't finish. But it wasn't for lack of effort. You can't fault the guys tonight; they played their tails off. Unfortunately every mistake gets magnified when you're not winning."
The Caps outshot San Jose 18-8 in the first period, the most shots Washington has had this season in the opening 20 minutes. They also had three power-play opportunities and eight shots on goal, but none went in.
The second period was when the Caps started to look like the Caps of so many other games. They had a 63-second two-man advantage early in the period, but it was the Sharks who scored three seconds after the last infraction expired. Teemu Selanne took a pass from Patrick Marleau that sprung the wing free. He came in, circled the net right to left and banked the puck in off Kolzig's stick at 7:15.
Two minutes later, with Jagr serving the first half of a double minor for high sticking, Marco Strum fired on Kolzig. The goalie made the stop but lost control of the puck. He turned around and dove for the puck, but Marleau got there first and tapped it in.
To ask the Caps to overcome a 1-0 deficit these days is possible but 2-0? The chances were there. Washington had another two-man advantage early in the third, and Michael Nylander ripped a shot high into the right side for the Caps' first goal in 129 minutes, 20 seconds. It was the first power-play goal in 17 opportunities for Washington.
Owen Nolan made it a 3-1 midway through the third, and Mike Grier brought the Caps back to within one at 12:40. But a third goal wasn't to be found.
There was a torrid finish with Washington on its ninth power play of the game and Kolzig on the bench giving Washington a two-man advantage. They swarmed and they pushed and shoved and shot and even hit metal. What they didn't hit was the back of the net.
Notes Defenseman Brendan Witt, who missed four games with a bruised shoulder, returned last night, leaving right wing Stephen Peat (hand injury) as the only medical scratch. The healthy scratches were left wing Andreas Salomonsson and defenseman Steve Eminger. Eminger, the Caps' top pick last June (12th overall), has been a healthy scratch six times this season. Attendance was announced as 13,137, but it appeared to be far less.



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