- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Olie Kolzig, who has seen the highs as well as the lows as a goalie for the Washington Capitals, sat in his stall last night, shaking his head in bewilderment.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this before as a pro or an amateur,” he said, pausing often as he tried to find words to describe his frustration with a team that cannot score or defend at crucial times.

“This is beyond frustrating,” he said. “It’s embarrassing. To be 3-11 or whatever we are … we might not be [an] 11-3 [team], but we’re definitely not 3-11. What else is there to say? It’s [not] Xs and Os; it’s what you have inside.”

Kolzig’s comments came after the Caps again played 20 minutes of hockey in a game that requires 60 minutes of effort. This time the Los Angeles Kings were the recipients of a 3-2 gift at MCI Center, Washington’s sixth loss in six games against Western Conference teams this season.

The loss dropped the Caps to 3-11-1, including two defeats to begin this four-game home stand.

“I think you can just photocopy this story from [Saturday],” coach Bruce Cassidy said, comparing the loss to a similar defeat at the hands of San Jose. “Good effort at the end to get back into it but not enough desperation when the game was tied. We’ve seen a lot of that.”

The Caps gave up a pair of odd-man rushes that resulted in two goals by Trent Klatt and a bad rebound when the crease should have been cleared, three mistakes that cost it a game at home.

“We’ve got some players who have not proven they can play at this level on a regular basis, and we’re going to struggle until they figure it out,” the coach said. “First of all, let’s accept our team for what we are in that regard. Sometimes it doesn’t look pretty, but when you get power-play opportunities and you’re not working to recover pucks, that’s frustrating because these are world-class players who in the end score our goals for us.”

Attendance was announced as 11,397, a figure that appeared to be highly inflated.

Washington was trailing 1-0 early in the first when Robert Lang, the team’s leading scorer, got his sixth goal of the season. Lang, originally drafted by the Kings (133rd overall) in 1990, jammed the puck under the pads of goalie Roman Cechmanek at 5:40. He scored again at 14:12 of the third period in similar fashion.

Klatt played in his 714th game last night in a career that started when he was drafted 82nd overall out of a Minnesota high school by the Caps in 1989. His rights were traded to the Minnesota North Stars for defenseman Shawn Chambers (he played two games in his one injury-plagued season as a Cap) before he left college. Klatt has since played in Dallas, Philadelphia and Vancouver before joining the Kings in the offseason.

Both goals came off odd-man rushes, the first worse than the second. The game was less than five minutes old when the Caps lost the puck in the Kings’ zone, and Los Angeles immediately reversed the ice. Alexander Frolov found Brad Chartrand coming through the neutral zone, leading a 3-on-1 break, and Chartrand easily located Klatt. Kolzig was facing Chartrand and couldn’t get back across the crease in time to stop Klatt’s shot at 4:26. Brendan Witt was the only Cap back; his partner, Sergei Gonchar, had pinched.

The second goal, near the halfway point of the second period, was remarkably similar, only this time it was a 2-on-1 breakout. It was Frolov to Chartrand to Klatt with Joel Kwiatkowski in front of Kolzig and Jason Doig caught up ice.

Los Angeles made it 3-1 a little more than six minutes into the final period when Caps defenders failed to clear the Kings out of the crease. Right wing Ian Laperriere took one shot at Kolzig, but the goalie couldn’t get a handle on the rebound. The loose puck slipped to his right, where Sean Avery had a clear path for his first of the season.

Kolzig did not appear to be bothered a great deal after being belted across the back of his head in the first period. He was thrown to the ice when player contact behind him knocked the cage over and the crossbar hit the goalie. He seemed stunned for a moment and removed his mask to shake out any cobwebs before the game resumed nearly 15 minutes into the opening period.

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