- The Washington Times - Monday, February 5, 2007

It took longer than expected, but the Washington Capitals gladly will take the two points.

Alexander Semin notched his first career shootout goal, and Olie Kolzig rebuffed all three attempts he faced from the New York Islanders to give the Caps a 2-1 victory yesterday in front of an announced crowd of 12,508 at Verizon Center.

The win snapped a three-game slide for the Caps and moved them ahead of Boston and Florida in the Eastern Conference standings.

“It wasn’t even about catching them [in the standings],” Caps defenseman Jamie Heward said. “It was about getting two points to gain ground on everybody. We deserved this tonight. We played a pretty strong hockey game [Saturday in a 2-0 loss at Pittsburgh] and missed a couple opportunities to win the game.”

The game was marred by five stoppages of play because of trouble with the glass. One came in the second period because Matt Pettinger’s shot broke one of the panes of plexiglass that encircles the ice, but the others all were issues with the metal partitions that hold them together.

Several of the delays, which combined to total at least 20 minutes, were long enough that players from each team left the bench to skate around and keep loose. The game took 2 hours, 53 minutes to complete.

“It was tough because it does take teams out of their rhythm,” Kolzig said. “I think with both teams it was kind of tough to get any kind of consistent rhythm.”

It is Washington’s first win in a shootout since beating Florida on April 15. The Caps had been 0-5 this season in the one-on-one format.

Semin skated down the middle of the ice and went to the backhand to beat Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro, flipping the puck over his outstretched right leg. It was Semin’s first shootout marker in four attempts and only the team’s second shootout goal in 16 tries this season.

Kolzig — who stopped 31 of 32 shots during regulation and overtime — took care of the rest, turning aside attempts from Miroslav Satan, Viktor Kozlov and Jason Blake in the shootout.

“Olie played the last two games unbelievably, and we haven’t given him a whole bunch of support,” Pettinger said. “But again he came through for us.”

Pettinger scored the Caps’ lone goal 2:52 into the first period. He pounced on a rebound after DiPietro stopped Richard Zednik’s wraparound attempt by diving to his left and stretching out his stick across the ice. It was one of four shots in the game for Zednik, who helped create several of the Caps’ best scoring chances.

“I thought that was our best line tonight,” Caps coach Glen Hanlon said. “I thought [Boyd] Gordon, Zednik and Pettinger controlled the play. I don’t recall any real extended period of time in our zone.”

The Caps won for the first time this season without scoring at least three goals. Saturday they lost for the first time this year when allowing fewer than three goals. For the first time since Dec. 9 the Caps won a game that Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin did not combine for at least two goals — a span of 25 games.

Notes — The Caps called up goaltender Frederic Cassivi from Hershey before the game to back up Kolzig while Brent Johnson remains out with an undisclosed injury.

The 31-year old Cassivi led the Bears to the Calder Cup last season and was named the MVP of the American Hockey League playoffs for his efforts. Darren Machesney, who dressed as Kolzig’s backup the past two games, was sent to Hershey. …

Former Caps defenseman Brendan Witt made his first appearance in an opposing uniform since being traded at the deadline last season. Washington sent Witt to Nashville for a first-round pick, which the Caps used to select Russian goaltender Simeon Varlamov in June. Witt signed a three-year contract with the Islanders in the offseason.

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