- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 30, 2002

For hockey fans who wished to get home in time to catch a competitive game on the tube, the Washington Capitals last night gave them ample opportunity.
Just 85 seconds after the game against Ottawa started, the Caps served up goalie Olie Kolzig as a sacrificial lamb, one to be sliced, diced and dissected in any manner the Senators desired. Kolzig's teammates made it abundantly clear they would not stand in the way, that they would not protect the team's one individual who had played up to NHL standards this season.
Thus, by the end of the first period with chorus after chorus of boos filling MCI Center, the end result was clear. Ottawa used the game as sort of a scrimmage and cruised to its ninth game in a row without a loss (7-0-2) by beating the Caps 6-2. Take Kolzig out and it's a double-digit defeat.
It was not just a lack of overall defense that cost Washington any chance. On special teams, the Caps were perfect: Ottawa scored on all three of its power play chances, and the Caps didn't score on any of their three. Washington's penalty-killing for the season slipped to 79 percent, meaning opponents are scoring 21 percent of the time they go up a man.
"You give any team a bunch of chances in your own end, and they're going to score," Caps coach Bruce Cassidy said. "On their last [power play] goal, we had four different chances to clear the puck. Four chances! The first time we fired it into the bench. It's got to get out, that's the first thing, but that's been a problem for us all year."
Ottawa's first score of the night sums up the Caps' response when the opposition threatened.
Mike Fisher brought the puck down the left boards, brushing past Jaromir Jagr as he circled around the corner and then started around the cage. In front of Kolzig, within easy reach, stood Chris Neil. Between Neil and Kolzig stood Caps defenseman Steve Eminger. Fisher passed to Neil, Neil shot, Kolzig was defenseless as Eminger and his defensive partner, Sergei Gonchar, had excellent spectator spots to watch a goalie go it alone.
The second goal? Todd White stood to the right of the Washington cage with about 90 seconds left in the first and shot three times, Kolzig twice making stops, the third shooting out the far side of the crease. Amazingly, Kolzig was the only Washington player on the ice who noticed that the enemy was shooting at the net and from very close range.
The puck finally darted out to where Daniel Alfredsson easily ripped one past the undefended goalie. Kolzig, prone from trying to keep the score close all by himself, reached in, grabbed the puck and threw it down the ice in disgust.
At the other end, Ottawa's Patrick Lalime was running his current unbeaten streak to 5-0-2. Right wing Marian Hossa ran his point streak to 12 games with a second-period power play goal. His streak betters the franchise record he had shared with the departed Alexei Yashin.
Continued for the Caps was center Michael Nylander's point streak, now six games with six goals and 14 points. Ivan Ciernik also extended his point streak to four games, 1-4-5.
Washington's second goal came from rookie Brian Sutherby with five minutes left in the game, his first NHL score (one he thought he had Tuesday night in Toronto had been taken back).
"We got schooled Tuesday night in Toronto on defensive zone coverage," Cassidy said, adding that the team didn't appear to take working on that aspect of the game Thursday very seriously. "We needed to work at it. As a staff, it's our job to get it done, but the players, they're professional. They come to work to practice and it showed [last night] why we need to do it.
"It's a tough sell right now, a tough sell with some guys about how to play away from the puck, and we've got to get on the same page. We've got to get committed. Play away from the puck is commitment and hard work and discipline. And if you don't have that away from the puck in your own end, you're not going to be a very good team."
The Caps said after the game that left wing Andreas Salomonsson had been placed on waivers.


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