- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 5, 2005

Twenty-four hours before Washington played host to Atlanta last night, the Capitals were abused and humiliated by Philadelphia.

Nearly a month ago the same Caps team was abused and humiliated on back-to-back nights by Atlanta.

Last night was quite a turnaround at MCI Center. Rookie sensation Alex Ovechkin scored the only goal in a shootout and the Caps, behind the stellar goaltending of Olie Kolzig, beat Atlanta 3-2, the fifth game this season Washington (5-8-0) has won by that score.

“I’m very excited we win this game,” Ovechkin said. “I remember two games against Atlanta we lose by 15 goals or something. I said, ‘Come on guys, we need win this game. Don’t be afraid, let’s go.’ ”

On Oct. 7-8, Atlanta crushed the Caps 7-3 and 8-1.

The payback against the Thrashers (4-9-0) was the Caps’ second try — and success — in the shootout format, the new NHL finish that ensures there will be no more tie games. Washington previously had beaten the Tampa Bay Lightning on Oct.16 when Ovechkin and Petr Sykora scored.

Last night Ovechkin took the first shot for the Caps, coming down on goalie Mike Dunham in twisting fashion, deking right as he approached then shifting to the left. He easily put the puck behind the goalie.

“I was lucky because that goalie, he knows [my] decision and I was lucky,” Ovechkin said. “I just shoot it strong and I just put it in goal.”

Washington’s other shot was taken by rookie Jakub Klepis, who had been called up earlier in the day and who had casually scored a goal during regulation.

Atlanta opened the shootout with Ilya Kovalchuk shooting at Kolzig and missing the net completely. Marian Hossa was next for the Thrashers and he also missed the cage completely. Former Cap Peter Bondra was third up and he shot off Kolzig’s glove and left elbow, making a third Washington shooter unnecessary.

“Poetic justice,” said Kolzig of Bondra’s missed attempt. In three games against the Caps this season Bondra has four goals and seven points, hardly a shabby performance.

“I was just wondering if Bonzai — he normally goes blocker side,” said the goalie, who had witnessed Bondra daily for 13 seasons. “I was wondering if he was thinking that’s where I knew he was going. He went glove side, I got a piece of it.”

Bondra put Atlanta up early in the second but defenseman Bryan Muir tied the score when he came out of the penalty box on the fly, caught a pass and beat Dunham. Klepis put Washington ahead of Atlanta for the first time this season when he exhibited patience and accurate shooting midway through the third. Bobby Holik scored for the Thrashers 12 minutes into the third to lead to overtime and eventually the shootout.

“I’m proud of the players — in less than 24 hours to regroup [after an 8-1 loss at Philadelphia],” coach Glen Hanlon said. “It’s not easy. People think, ‘Well, you’re professionals,’ and we just go out and play games another day. But it’s hard. It’s hard to prepare the next day without thinking about the last game for coaches and it’s hard for players to come and regroup.”

Notes — Caps right wing Chris Clark was fined $2,000 by the NHL for hitting defenseman Eric Desjardins in the head with an elbow during the game in Philadelphia on Thursday night. The oft-injured Desjardins sustained a concussion from the blow and had to be assisted from the ice at 15:21 of the second. No penalty was called on the play; the fine was levied after routine video review of the game. … Washington plays host to Toronto at the unusual starting time of 5 p.m. tomorrow.

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