- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2003

MONTREAL As Olie Kolzig was heading off the ice last night after his Washington Capitals came to life at the right time and beat Montreal 4-3 in overtime, he approached defenseman Josef Boumedienne, who nailed the critical goal.

"I asked him if he had gotten the puck," Kolzig said with a chuckle. "He said 'No, I got my first on you last year.' "

Boumedienne, who arrived yesterday from the minors after the injury to another Cap, scored 3:09 into overtime at the end of his first game as a Capital, and gave his team a boost. It was his second NHL goal; his first came in the season-opener last year when he beat Kolzig while a New Jersey Devil.

Until Washington came to life in the third period, it appeared the Caps were wasting one of their last chances to solidify a decent spot in postseason instead of going in as little more than a sacrificial lamb.

Everything that has been wrong with Washington in the recent past was evident through much of last night. The power play, 1-for-16 coming into the game, is now 1-for-21 and every bit as bad as those figures sound.

The penalty killing, which collapsed Sunday night in Vancouver, gave up two goals last night on four chances. Through two periods, the Caps were outhit, outshot, outchanced, outhustled, out-everythinged against a team that is now down to a slim hope of making postseason play.

But apparently somebody read the standings between the second and third periods and listed what was at stake. The third period was different and it had to be.

The Caps are back to being three points behind Tampa Bay but catching the Lightning for the Southeast Division title is not the most realistic thing on the horizon, not with five games remaining. More importantly, the Caps are back to being three points in front of Boston in the battle for the sixth spot and the opportunity to play Tampa Bay in the first round instead of New Jersey or Ottawa.

"I don't think we had a real sense of urgency on our power play," said Kolzig, who was sensational again. "Before the third period we had four of them and we really didn't generate anything and that could have done us in tonight. We played with a little more of a sense of urgency in the third, we started working a little better but then our penalty-killing fell apart. I think once we get our special teams straightened out, we'll be OK.

"But tonight was a big character win. We fell apart in the third period in Edmonton but tonight we made up for it."

Boumedienne was still getting acquainted with his teammates in the first period when he let Chad Kilger get through to score the first Montreal goal. But after a scoreless and lifeless second period, the teams traded goals. Robert Lang tied it for Washington; ex-Cap Richard Zednik put the Canadiens ahead. Dainius Zubrus scored for Washington, Donald Audette put Montreal back up. Finally, with 3:08 left in regulation, Sergei Berezin whipped a shot past Jose Theodore and it was 3-3 heading into overtime.

"I recognized that [Jaromir] Jagr was out on the ice when I jumped up and I seen that guy on TV since I was a kid, so I figured if I get open I probably get the puck," said Boumedienne, 25. "So I tried to jump in the hole there and sure enough, I got the puck."

Not only did he get the puck, he moved in on Theodore, put a nifty move on him before lifting a backhander into the net 3:09 into the extra period.

"They made that one save and I thought 'Are we ever going to score a goal?' " said coach Bruce Cassidy. "Then the power play frustrated us and the penalty kill was like Vancouver and I was wondering if we were ever going to do anything right.

"But we got guys in the room who can put the puck in the net when they start pressing and I knew eventually we were going to score. It was good timing."

Boumedienne was brought in because, despite being small in this day of huge defensemen, he had good puck moving skills and had an offensive tendency, like many Swedes.

It was good timing indeed.


Notes The Caps are carrying 26 players on the parent roster after Boumedienne was called up yesterday. Boumedienne was brought in after Ken Klee was still unable to walk on his right foot, which took the full force of a shot in the 6-0 Vancouver debacle Sunday night. The team is terming Klee's availability "day-to-day" but it doesn't look like he will be back for the remainder of this road trip, which concludes Saturday night in Toronto. Boumedienne was the Caps' second call-up (Stephen Peat was the first); each team is allowed four until the end of the first round of the playoffs. … Jagr missed six games while he was out; the team went 3-3 without him and won a game he missed earlier in the season. … The healthy scratches last night were Ivan Ciernik, Alex Henry and Stephen Peat up front plus defensemen Rick Berry and J.F. Fortin.

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