The shootout, the novelty item the NHL is utilizing to ensure there are no more deadlocks, finally arrived at MCI Center last night. The Washington Capitals were tied with defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay after three periods and one overtime.
Pressure on the shooters? Nah, said left wing Alex Ovechkin, the former No.1 pick who tied the shootout for the Caps after Vinny Lecavalier, a former No.1 pick, scored for Tampa Bay.
Pressure on the shooters? Nah, said right wing Petr Sykora, who put the winning shot past goalie Sean Burke with Washington’s second shot, thus sending the Caps to a 3-2 victory which ended an ugly two-game losing streak.
“The one real positive thing about our team is that after big blowouts we seem to respond pretty good,” said goalie Olie Kolzig, who had been the target of some horrendous barrages by the opposition this season. The win evened his record at 3-3 this season as he turned aside 38 of the 40 shots he faced and one of those goals was off a power play.
“I just got beat both times [in the shootout] but no excuse,” said Lightning goalie Sean Burke, who broke into the NHL 17 years ago against Washington. “The first goal by Ovechkin was a good move and the second one, I’m not sure that he was going to shoot it there. I felt good, I was ready.”
It was arguably Washington’s best overall game of the season although coach Glen Hanlon thought the opener, a victory over Columbus, was perhaps the best. All three Washington wins of this season have been by 3-2 scores while some of the four losses have been embarrassing.
Washington won the game yesterday by killing penalties, a good sign and yet a bad one. The good part is that the Caps were able to shut down the powerful Lightning special team seven out of eight times. The bad part is that Washington has continued its nonstop march to the penalty box this season, which usually has led to losses.
It might be a different story if the club could score on its power play but that has become a non-factor. Washington has gone more than three games — it’s on a 0-14 streak — without a power play tally.
Vinny Lecavalier put the visitors up 1-0 some nine minutes into the game on a power play but Chris Clark tied it less than two minutes later when he shot from behind the goal line and the puck glanced in off Burke’s right pad.
Vaclav Prospal was credited with a goal with two minutes left in the first after a shot he directed in the general direction of Kolzig glanced off somebody and ended up behind the goalie. Dainius Zubrus unleashed a very hard wrist shot four minutes into the second that Burke had no chance of stopping and it was tied, the way it was much later when the shootout started.
Notes — Ovechkin got the first assist on Zubrus’ goal, giving him points in all seven of his NHL games. That ties the production to start a career by a former No. 1 draft pick, Alexandre Daigle. … Defenseman Steve Eminger had his second two-point game of the season with a pair of assists.
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