- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 16, 2003

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Washington Capitals don’t win often, but last night their special teams and goalie Olie Kolzig were both outstanding, and that made all the difference.

Peter Bondra and Dainius Zubrus scored power-play goals and Kolzig and the defense killed all five short-handed situations as the Caps beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 at RBC Center.

Zubrus took a feed from Jaromir Jagr and flipped a backhand past Hurricanes goalie Jamie Storr on a power play with 2:13 left to give Washington (5-12-1) its second victory in four days over Carolina. The Caps beat the Hurricanes 7-1 at MCI Center on Wednesday.

“Jags made a great pass, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to put it on the net,” Zubrus said of his seventh goal. “I saw where the goalie was, and I just tried to put it past him.”

Danny Markov’s penalty for high-sticking Brendan Witt gave the Caps the first power play of the third period at 1:27, but they managed only one shot during the advantage.

Kolzig, who stopped 38 of 39 shots, kept the game tied by thwarting Ryan Bayda and Radim Vrbata in rapid-fire succession on a Carolina rush at 13:28. Vrbata just missed on another opportunity a little more than two minutes later with Ron Francis ready to pounce on the rebound.

Given their third power play courtesy of Jeff O’Neill’s boarding of Sergei Gonchar at 16:52, the Caps pulled out the victory as Jagr fed Zubrus for the goal.

Kolzig leaped to stop Vrbata’s scoring try as time was running down for his final save.

“Last night [an ugly 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay], I couldn’t do anything right, and tonight I’m on my stomach kicking my leg behind me [to make a save],” Kolzig said. “Goalies have those nights, and they’re fun. We got a few breaks. We’re 5-12-1. We’ll take them any other way they come.”

Bondra scored Washington’s first goal on a power play at 9:25 of the second period. The goal, Bondra’s sixth of the year and fifth on the power play, upped his franchise records to 457 goals and 799 points. Gonchar picked up the first assist, giving him nine in the past eight games. Season scoring leader Robert Lang had the second assist for a career-high nine-game scoring streak (seven goals, eight assists).

Jagr set up Kip Miller in great position at 3:15 of the first period, but Miller couldn’t break the scoreless tie. Caps defenseman Jason Doig broke his stick and Vrbata’s scoring chance at 7:53, and 55 seconds later, Erik Cole’s roughing penalty gave Washington its first power play.

It took 37 seconds for the Caps, the league’s ninth-rated power-play unit, to click for the 16th time this season. Jagr grabbed the puck off the rear left boards and fed it to Lang in the low left circle. Lang quickly passed to Gonchar, who slid it across the blue line to Bondra for the one-timer that sizzled between Storr’s glove and the right post.

But after taking the lead, the Caps didn’t play with the same tenacity. Rookie defenseman Steve Eminger went to the box for tripping Cole at 10:54. After Mike Grier came close to scoring short-handed, the Hurricanes thought they tied the game on a second rebound chance by Eric Staal. However, the video replay judge upheld the no-goal ruling on the ice at 12:28.

“I made the save, dived across to stop the second shot, and I thought I had it under me, but it hit my stick and rolled right along the goal line and out the other side,” Kolzig said. “It was close, very, very close.”

Washington killed an elbowing penalty on Zubrus 42 seconds later, but three seconds after the teams returned to even strength, Staal beat Witt to a rebound of Sean Hill’s shot from the point to beat Kolzig and tie the game.

Given that boost, the Hurricanes came on like, well, hurricanes, helped by penalties on Eminger for tripping and Witt for high-sticking Staal that left the Caps skating 3-on-5 for 1:53. By the time the power plays were over, Carolina outshot Washington 17-1 in the 9:20 since Bondra’s goal.

“Your best penalty killer has to be your goaltender,” Zubrus said. “Olie continues to amaze us. Those kills were huge for us.”

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