- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 5, 2006

ATLANTA — Washington Capitals goalie Olie Kolzig saw there was nobody between him and Atlanta sharpshooter Marian Hossa. So he got low and took away as much net as he could.

Hossa, who has 29 goals this season, had plenty of time. He closed the range slightly and ripped a shot top shelf, the only space Kolzig failed to protect.

Thus, one of the Caps’ best efforts in some time was negated as the Thrashers took a 3-2 overtime victory. Hossa’s winner came just 1:49 into the extra period.

“I just tried to stay at the net,” Hossa said. “I knew [Ilya] Kovalchuk would shoot it, and the [rebound] just came to me. I faked and went upstairs. It took one hour to get into the net … but it did.”

Washington held a 1-0 lead thanks to a Brian Willsie power-play goal at 4:23 of the first until Jaroslav Modry scored with the extra man midway through the third. In between, Kolzig played some of his best hockey of the season, holding one of the top-scoring teams in the NHL scoreless even though he was repeatedly challenged.

“It’s disappointing,” Kolzig said after the loss, which nonetheless was a significant improvement for both himself and the team coming off a 7-1 walloping Thursday night in Ottawa.

“I felt I was seeing everything great. I felt if I could see it I could stop it. It didn’t end up that way, and it’s too bad.”

It was the third time Kolzig has gone after his milestone 250th victory and the third time he has been turned aside.

Kolzig never saw Modry’s shot until it was past him. The defenseman let a wrister go from the deep slot through a pile of bodies, and the puck got past Kolzig before he knew it was in the area.

Three minutes later, Kovalchuk, a pure goal-scorer, wristed a laser over Kolzig’s glove to put the Thrashers up 2-1 and to give him temporary sole possession of second place in the league in goals. It was Atlanta’s first lead of the game.

But Alex Ovechkin moved back into a tie with his Russian Olympic teammate, tying the score at 2-2 at 19:34 in the third with his 39th of the season. It wasn’t a picture-perfect score, but it pulled the Caps from the brink of defeat — until Hossa ended the drama.

The game was stopped for several minutes in the second period when Washington defenseman Jamie Heward was rammed face-first into the rear boards by Atlanta wing Eric Boulton. Heward lay flat on the ice for several minutes until he was assisted to the dressing room, hunched over and seemingly unable to straighten up. He appeared to have a head or neck injury or both.

The Caps said little after the game, but the defenseman was scheduled to be re-evaluated today. He leads the team in average ice time with nearly 23 minutes a game, and his loss for any length of time might have a severe impact on a team already short of good experienced defensemen.

Notes — Retired Caps great Calle Johansson, probably the best two-way defenseman in team history, visited with old friends. He was in Atlanta with his TV crew from Sweden doing a piece on Ovechkin. Johansson does color commentary for a Swedish TV network and had been following gold medal winners from that country as they returned to NHL action. Johansson played 983 games for Washington, more than any other player in team history. …

Defenseman Steve Eminger, out since Jan. 13 with a sprained ankle, hopes to be ready to go against the New York Islanders tomorrow night at Verizon Center. The Caps may decide to keep him out because he hasn’t practiced with full contact. Washington hasn’t played a home game since Feb. 11. Tomorrow’s game is the first of a five-game homestand, the second longest of the season.

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