- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 30, 2003

With rumors swirling about the availability of key Washington players, principal owner Ted Leonsis and team president Dick Patrick huddled together in the owners’ box last night at MCI Center and watched another dismal performance by their Capitals. They were not pleased.

A little more than seven minutes into the third period, chorus after chorus of boos rained down from the very slim crowd — announced as 13,350 — as unanswered shots poured in on Washington goalie Olie Kolzig. The goalie was not the subject of the crowd’s anger; it was the lack of support he was receiving. The crowd finally fell silent when the inevitable happened and Anaheim scored again.

The Mighty Ducks sent the Caps to their sixth straight loss and eighth game in a row without a win, taking a 4-2 victory in their only meeting of the season.

It was, for the most part, a pitiful performance by the home team. Halfway through the game Washington had 13 shots on goalie Martin Gerber. The Caps didn’t even match that figure in the second half despite four power plays.

“We have a goalie in there who is the heart and soul of this team, and they have to play better for him and get behind him because he is our guy,” said coach Bruce Cassidy.

Rumors are rampant throughout the league concerning possible deals involving players like Kolzig, Sergei Gonchar, Robert Lang and Jaromir Jagr. It is not a secret that the Caps wish to reduce their payroll from the current $50million figure, and dealing some of these players is the only way to do it.

Sergei Fedorov had two goals for the Ducks, continuing his torrid pace against the Caps. Stephen Peat and Dainius Zubrus scored for Washington, the latter with just over three minutes to go when the game long since had been decided.

The turning point seemed to come while it was still tied 1-1. Twelve minutes into the middle period, Anaheim defenseman Ruslan Salei hauled down Jagr in the offensive zone, and Washington was in perfect position to get a lead.

Not even close. For two minutes the Caps could not control the puck once it crossed into the Ducks’ zone. And Anaheim didn’t have to work very hard to do it. Poor passing, intercepted passes and fumbled attempts at shooting made the task easy for the victors, who also outshot the Caps 1-0 on Washington’s power play.

“We have too much talent for things to go the way they are now,” said left wing Mike Grier. “We are finding ways to lose.”

Washington last won on opening night, 6-1 over the New York Islanders. The Caps lost their second game of the season, then went 0-5-1 before returning home last night.

Fedorov, who bolted from Detroit as an unrestricted free agent last summer, probably was thinking back to Dec.26, 1996, when he beat the Caps with a monumental individual effort, scoring all the Red Wings’ goals in a 5-4 victory in overtime. No other player has scored five goals against Washington in one game.

His first last night came just 21 seconds after a Caps penalty very early. Fedorov took a feed from Sandis Ozolinsh in the left circle and snapped a shot past Kolzig on the short side.

Peat, normally a scratch in games like last night when an enforcer is not needed, rewarded the coaching staff with his first goal of the season. He took a wrist shot from the hash marks 7:41 into the opening period, with Jeff Halpern and Jason Doig earning assists.

Fedorov’s second came at 15:37 of the second. The center used a teammate as a screen and let go with a wrist shot that Kolzig got a piece of, the puck trickling through nonetheless.

Goalie Martin Gerber had stopped 97 of 99 shots over the last three games coming into last night and has, at least temporarily, taken the starting job away from last summer’s playoff hero and Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Giguere had a record of 1-5-0 with a saves percentage of .893 this season, ample reason why the Ducks made a change.

Zubrus’ goal came off a backhander as time was expiring, far too little, far too late.

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