Friday, January 13, 2006

Drawing even after trailing by three goals is never easy in the NHL. Against one of the league powerhouses like the Stars, playing in their own building in Dallas, that task is next to impossible, which the Caps proved last night.

In a 4-1 loss to start a three-game road trip that continues in Anaheim, Calif., tonight, Washington was down three goals 16:17 into the first period.

The loss was the sixth straight for the flu-ravaged Caps and their fifth straight defeat to the Stars, who are coached by former Caps player Dave Tippett.

“We were intimidated by their players and their speed,” Caps coach Glen Hanlon said. “It seemed like we were in awe.”

Washington’s lone goal came off the stick of left wing Alex Ovechkin, who beat goalie Marty Turco from the center of the left circle three minutes into the second period with a lightning-quick wrist shot into the top left corner. It was the rookie’s 27th goal in his 42nd game, with Brian Sutherby and goalie Olie Kolzig assisting.

It might have been too much to expect the inexperienced Caps to beat the Stars in Dallas, but their fate was sealed before game time. The team has been hit hard by the flu to the point where the defense and forwards could not play in their typical pairs and lines, respectively.

Dallas’ Jason Arnott scored in the first and third periods, while Brendan Morrow and Jere Lehtinen added goals in the opening 20 minutes for Dallas. Washington didn’t play a bad road game — it has won only four of 18 away from MCI Center — but every time it made a mistake, the Stars took advantage and converted at will.

The Caps were 0-for-6 on the power play — going without a shot for a 5-on-3 situation of 22 seconds — but a perfect 4-for-4 on penalty kills.

Kolzig, who has at least one win against every team in the NHL except for the Stars, fell to 0-9-1 with a 3.47 goals-against average of 3.47 in the series. He made 23 saves on 27 shots.

“We gave them a little too much respect,” Kolzig said. “I didn’t help myself out much. I didn’t bale the guys out like I did earlier in the year.”

Notes — Left wing Jeff Friesen, who hasn’t played since Nov. 6, plans to return to action tonight after abdominal surgery Dec. 8 to fix a sports hernia. … Left wing Matt Pettinger (lower body) was a medical scratch along with Friesen. The coaching scratches were defenseman Ivan Majesky and center Andrew Cassels. … Right wing Eric Fehr and defenseman Lawrence Nycholat will represent Hershey in the 2006 American Hockey League All-Star Game Feb. 1 in Winnipeg. … Goalie Daren Machesney of the Brampton Battalion, drafted by the Caps last June, was the Ontario Hockey League player of the week for the period ending last Sunday with a record of 2-0-0 with a goals-against average of 0.50.

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