- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 14, 2007

SUNRISE, Fla. — For the second straight game, Washington Capitals goalie Olie Kolzig had trouble preventing shots from entering the net. So much so that coach Glen Hanlon pulled him in the third period for backup Brent Johnson, who has played in only 12 games this season.

Kolzig allowed five goals in two periods as the Caps fell 7-3 Panthers’ at BankAtlantic Center.

Kolzig also allowed five goals in his previous start against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan 11. In that game, Kolzig shouldered the blame for the loss, which included a game-winning goal by Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis 3:22 into the third period.

The game was an opportunity to get back on track for the Caps (19-19-7), who are second to last in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference. The Panthers (17-21-9) ranked next to last in the conference, just below the Caps in the basement of the same division.

But the Caps couldn’t muster much of a performance from any player, including Kolzig.

“We just weren’t on track; our positional play wasn’t there tonight,” Kolzig said.

Even though Kolzig had another poor outing, this time was a bit different in the fact that the veteran didn’t get much help from his teammates offensively.

All night, the Panthers were more aggressive and deft in shooting the puck. They found effortless ways to maneuver around the Caps’ defensemen and had little trouble bouncing back from missed opportunities.

“We weren’t prepared for it, we weren’t ready for it,” Kolzig said of the Panthers’ performance. “They played together in five-man units, they created some turnovers and their forwards came in the neutral zone with a lot of speed. We got caught looking a little bit in our own end.”

The Panthers finished with 54 shots on goal. The Caps managed just 17 shots. The Panthers also set a season record for most shots taken in a period when took 27 in the second. The previous record was 23 against Toronto on Nov. 2.

Everything seemed to fall apart in that second period. Up 2-1, Florida scored three straight goals to put the game nearly out of reach. Two of those goals came in the final three minutes of the period, when Rostislav Olesz scored on a power play with no one in close range and Jay Bouwmeester netted his second goal of the game at the 18:56 mark.

On that final goal, it looked as though Kolzig completely missed the direction of the shot. Bouwmeester, who was clearly outside of seven feet, got an assist from Joel Kwiatkowski and glided the puck untouched into the top right corner of the net. Kolzig looked as if he was moving down towards the right corner and reacted late.

Like Kolzig, the Caps’ defense seemed out of rhythm.

Brian Pothier, Lawrence Nycholat and Jamie Heward of Washington had poor defensive protection on Panthers’ scoring plays around the net.

Nycholat was near the puck on Stephen Weiss’ first goal of the game, which was at the 14:03 mark of the second period. Weiss finished with a hat trick. Heward was around the net when Chris Gratton scored at the 12:46 mark of the first period, a shot that Florida center Olli Jokinen initially shot. Jokinen’s shot was deflected off of Kolzig, and Gratton then put it back for his seventh of the season.

“It was a rebound and it went by me and ended up going on Gratton’s stick and he ended up scoring,” Heward said.

Matt Pettinger scored at the 10:09 mark of the third period on an unassisted play, while Chris Clark found the back of the net with 23 seconds left.

Alexander Semin also scored for the Caps.

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