- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 12, 2006

With the Washington Capitals skating shorthanded 15 minutes into the second period last night and nursing a one-goal lead, New York Ranger (and former Cap) Jaromir Jagr rapped a hard drive off the left post. The puck bounced harmlessly away.

No one knew it at the time, but that might have been the turning point in a game Washington won 3-1. It was a game that wasn’t salted away until the midway point of the third period. The victory gave the Caps wins in three of their last four games and 18 points on the season. At this point last season, the team had 12 points.

Washington dominated for the first 20 minutes, then played a little looser and then even looser still, the difference being in goal. Caps goalie Olie Kolzig stopped 41 of 42 shots. The Rangers had sophomore Henrik Lundqvist and he played quite well but not as well as Kolzig.

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Kolzig breezed through the five-shot first period, faced and stopped 16 more in the second then stopped 20 of 21 in the third, allowing only a power play score by former Cap Michael Nylander with 1:51 left. The goal denied Kolzig of his 34th career shutout. From the start of the second period the Caps were outshot 37-11.

Boyd Gordon, Alex Ovechkin and Matt Pettinger had the Caps’ goals with Gordon also earning an assist.

“I was pretty focused out there,” said Kolzig, acknowledging he wasn’t too happy with his last outing, a 12-minute appearance against Ottawa when he gave up three goals in a Caps’ win. “We really should have been three or four up after the first period, [but] Lundqvist was unbelievable.

“Obviously after having five days off you want a little action early to get into it, but you’re going to have games like that. But our team is getting better and better and there will be games where we don’t give up as many shots.”

The Caps had the game’s first six power plays but had only seven shots on goal in that time. Washington moved the puck around but couldn’t get rubber through to Lundqvist by shooting from the perimeter.

Gordon gave Washington a lead 11:59 into the game on pure persistence, scoring for the first time since Oct. 11, 2003. He scooped up a turnover and came in on Lundqvist, but the goalie stopped him the first time then a second time. Lundqvist didn’t have the answer for the determined center the third time.

“It’s been a while but it feels good to contribute and be a part of a big win for us,” Gordon said. “There was a bad turnover, I took a couple whacks at it and fortunately I got a good bounce and I just put it in.”

It was not a happy Rangers’ dressing room. New York beat the Caps 5-2 in the season opener and apparently felt last night would be just as easy.

“I am awfully disappointed at how we started this game tonight because I think it was two points that could have been had,” Rangers coach Tom Renney said. “We needed to be in here and take it to this team and we chose not to.”

Notes — Defenseman Jamie Heward returned to action, meaning there were three healthy scratches — defenseman Bryan Muir and forwards Kris Beech and Brooks Laich. Right wing Richard Zednik is on injured reserve with a wrist injury. … The Caps will not practice today after having a successful night against the Rangers. … There was a lengthy review of a shot Ovechkin took at 15:59 of the first that seemed to catch net. Replays showed it hit the metal elbow on the cage. … The condition of the Verizon Center ice wasn’t as bad as it has been on some nights after an afternoon basketball game.

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