- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 20, 2002

PHILADELPHIA Shots on goal, a hockey statistic that trails only goals scored in perceived importance, has never been very accurate and most often is really not important.
Take yesterday afternoon. The Flyers were credited with three goals against the Washington Capitals, none of which was stuck by the player who was judged to be the scorer. One goal came when the puck deflected off a Flyer's body. A second went in off an opposing forward's stick, the third off an opposing defenseman's stick.
A stranger win in Philadelphia hasn't happened in some time, but strange things always seem to happen to Washington in the City of Brotherly Love. In the end it was 3-1, and the Caps' streak of futility against the Flyers now stretches back to the Truman administration or at least it seems that long.
The Caps had hoped to be just the third Washington team in history to start 4-0-0. Instead, their record is 3-1-0, with a tough game tonight in Dallas.
And Philadelphia's record against the Caps goes to 10-0-1 in the last 11 home games between the two and 9-0-0 in their last nine played anywhere: 4-0-0 last season, 4-0-0 in the last four exhibition games and yesterday.
The one person who escaped blame yesterday was Caps goalie Olie Kolzig, who stopped everything that Philadelphia shot at him. It was the deflections that got past him.
But it wasn't only deflections that beat the Caps. Washington played a strong first period and continued to do so for a while into the second. Then they stopped and stood around and watched, something they did a lot of last season with similar results.
They also stopped shooting, normally a requirement if one intends to score (although the Flyers showed that was not completely necessary). Ten minutes into the first period, Washington had 10 shots. With eight minutes left in the game, the Caps had added only seven more, meaning they went 42 minutes with seven shots and no goals.
"I was never a real big believer in shots up on the board; you can outshoot an opponent in every game and lose every game," center Robert Lang said, "but we stopped playing in the last five minutes of the second period. We got outplayed, but more than that, we started watching [the Flyers] instead of doing what we were doing in the first period."
Why? Why very few shots? Why stop doing what gave you a 1-0 lead and kept the Flyers bottled up?
"I don't know," Lang said. "It's just one of those things. If I knew, we wouldn't be doing it. Olie? Olie played unbelievable three deflections beat us."
Said left wing Steve Konowalchuk: "It seemed to be working for us in the first period, but you got to give [Philadelphia] credit they stuck to their game plan and we didn't. We started to get a little fancy in the neutral zone, and that allowed their strong, fast forwards to come back at us."
Lang gave the Caps a 1-0 lead 4:16 into the game with the Flyers down two men when he lifted a rebound into the net behind Robert Esche, who made his first start for the Flyers.
Lang's goal held up until just 4:30 remained in the middle period, when the parade of bizarre goals started. John LeClair was credited with tying the game when Kin Johnsson's shot glanced off him and past Kolzig.
At 17:09, Simon Gagne's shot from the left point appeared to be going high until Dainius Zubrus accidentally deflected it in for what turned out to be the deciding goal.
Two minutes into the third period, Donald Brashear was standing in the right corner behind the goal line and tried to center the puck into the crease. Caps defender J.F. Fortin went to deflect the pass and instead knocked it past Kolzig, the enforcer's third goal against Washington this fall (two in preseason).
That left Washington 18 minutes to get back into the game. But other than a failed 3-on-1 break led by Peter Bondra late in the period, the shots the Caps did take were blanks.

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