- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 8, 2006

Olie Kolzig has played 600 games for the Washington Capitals — and 247 have been losses. Maybe none were more preventable than the 4-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes last night.

The Caps gave up three short-handed goals, tying the franchise record, and the fourth Hurricanes’ score came on a power play as the Caps collapsed in front of their veteran goaltender.

Even Caps coach Glen Hanlon, who almost always finds a bright side to even the darkest picture, had nothing pleasant to say about what developed during the team’s next-to-the-last home game of the season.

“All the [short-handed] goals, all three of them, are preventable,” he said. “You can’t give up a short-handed goal and say we didn’t make a mistake. Overall, I think all of those have to be preventable.”

It was hardly a stellar night for a team made up of a lot of individuals fighting for NHL paychecks next season. The play at times, especially the play leading up to the first short-handed goal, bordered on indifference and the result was predictable — Kolzig had another puck jammed down his throat.

Washington actually led the game 1-0 and scored two quick goals at the end to make the game appear closer than it was. But the manner of the defeat overshadowed rookie Alex Ovechkin extending his personal high points streak to 11 games with five goals and 17 points in that span.

But the leading rookie of the year candidate has now gone five straight games without a goal and has been sitting on 48 since March 29. His assist last night gives him 51 for the season and 99 points, third on the all-time Caps points list and sixth on the NHL’s all-time points list for rookies.

“I have a couple moments in the third period where I have a chance to score goals, but I didn’t score,” Ovechkin said. “We have six more games, we must forget this game.”

Washington had played very well for the first 23 minutes, taking a first period lead on Jeff Halpern’s ninth of the season to give him goals in three straight games. But the good times ended shortly after the second period started.

The carnage began at 3:47 with the Caps playing a devil-may-care brand of hockey while on a power play. Kevyn Adams got credit for a short-hander that glanced off him, bounced and darted past a startled Kolzig.

Just 19 seconds later, the Hurricanes scored short-handed again. This time Ovechkin fell down, creating a turnover that Jason Williams pounced on. He roared in on the goalie and rifled a shot through his legs.

Later in the second Eric Staal, on a power play, took a shot at Kolzig, who made a partial stop. Staal then went in unchecked to poke it free, scoring his 44th. And then seconds into the third Williams scored the Hurricanes’ third short-handed goal of the game, a franchise record for them, after Brian Willsie fell down.

Willsie and defenseman Shaone Morrisonn scored late in the third to create the one-goal margin.

Notes — Left wing Matt Pettinger returned from his upper body injury last night after missing two games. That meant forward Louis Robitaille, called up under emergency conditions, was returned to Hershey. Center Kris Beech is still with the parent team, also under emergency recall circumstances, with left wing Ben Clymer still sidelined with an upper body injury. Defenseman Bryan Muir, who has been battling a flu-like ailment off-and-on since March 20, is also out. The Caps have only one more home date this season — April 17 against Atlanta. The season finale is the following night at Tampa Bay.

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