|Recap: Capitals at Kings by: Matt Witting October 17, 2001|
| The Washington Capitals dodged a bullet last night and ended a disappointing road trip on an up note by beating the LA Kings 3-2 in overtime. The win snaps a two game road losing streak and gets the Caps back to .500 on the year. The Capitals head home for just one game (Friday against Montreal) before hitting the road again starting Saturday in Philadelphia.
The game started very poorly for the Caps. Although top defenseman Brendan Witt returned after missing two games, Jaromir Jagr is still injured and co-captain Steve Konowalchuk sat out due to ďassorted bumps and bruisesĒ. Washington looked lost and tired for most of the first period, and paid for their sloppy play early. The Caps, trying to clear the zone after a flurry of shots from the Kings, put the puck right on the stick of Valicevik who walked into the Caps zone and beat Kolzig easily glove side with a wicked wrist shot at 3:19. The Caps were able to convert their one good chance of the period less than a minute later when they finally held possession in the Kings zone. Zubrus dished the puck to Cote at the right point and held the defense off long enough for Cote to wind up and fire his still-potent shot. Nikolishin, camped out to the right of the net, reached out and deflected the puck with the blade of his stick, just beating Felix Potvin 5-hole, and the score was tied. The rest of the period was all Kings as they out-shot the Caps 17-5, but excellent play by Kolzig and good defensive work clearing forwards and loose pucks from the crease kept the score tied. The Kings had two power plays in the first, to one for the Caps, but the PK looked very good for both teams.
The second period was the exact opposite of the first as the Caps took control of the game and dominated play for long stretches, outshooting the Kings 15-8. The Caps got a great chance mid-way through the period when, with Karalahti already off for high-sticking, Belanger took a run at Peter Bondra from behind and elbowed/cross-checked him in the back of the head. With Bondra limping around the ice, holding his noggin, the refs assessed Belanger a 5 minute major penalty for the elbow and the Caps had 1:03 of 5-3 time as well as another 4 minutes of PP opportunities. Unfortunately for Washington, however, Felix Potvin was magnificent, stuffing every the Caps could throw at him until only 1:20 remained on the major. Adam Oates and Chris Ferraro were playing pass with the puck. After several exchanges, Ferraro turned from his position behind the net and laid a perfect, crisp pass on Ulf Dahlenís stick. Ulf took one step in from the high slot where he was positioned and beat Potvin easily top shelf with a wrister to give the Caps a 2-1 lead. The lead was shot lived, however, as the Kings took advantage of another Caps miscue in their own zone. Washington coughed the puck up to Ziggy Palffy as they tried to exit the zone. Palffy, skating towards center ice, controlled the puck and laid a perfect pass through the stunned Caps defense to Stumpel. Stumpel had an open path from the left faceoff circle to the goalie and beat Kolzig with a great backhand/forehand deke before the big goalie could get his positioning right. Tie game again. The Caps continued to press, but didnít break through.
The third period was more balanced than either of the previous two with both teams playing well. The Caps outshot LA 10-7 in the scoreless frame, and didnít face much pressure until the last couple of minutes. Felix Potvin made an incredible stop on Trevor Linden to keep the game tied. Trevor collected a rebound right outside the crease and fired it towards the net. Potvin dove from his left to right and actually blocked the shot out of mid-air, on the goal line, with the shaft of his stick. Thatís the second time in three games that Linden has been flat out robbed of a goal. The Caps had their tense moment too in the last three minutes of regulation. Calle Johansson was whistled for a questionable cross checking penalty at the 17:25 mark. The Capitals, clearly tired, had difficulty clearing the puck and LA peppered Kolzig with shots. They missed the open side of the net from a very sharp angle on a nice back-door play, and Olie made a tremendous stop, windmilling his legs above his as he went down to preserve the tie.
Washington, anxious to return home, ended the game quickly in overtime. The Caps withstood a quick push from the Kings, brought the puck up and ended the game. Joe Reekie fired a slap shot into traffic in front of net and the buck deflected off of a couple of bodies. Potvin seemed to lose sight of it just long enough for Bondra to gather it in, pull it out of traffic, and shut a knuckleball that Tim Wakefield would have been proud of. The puck fluttered over a defensemanís stick, under Potvinís and dribbled across the goal line for the winner 21 seconds into OT.
First star of the game would have to be Olie Kolzig. If it werenít for his great play early, the Caps would have been staring at a 3-0 deficit. Potvin was just as good on the other side. The Caps need to work on controlling and clearing the puck from their own zone, but looked much better (after the first period) than they did in the last couple of games. The PP was great, the PK was solid, and the offense finally looked like it gelled a little. Overall a good and much-needed win over a quality opponent. Next up, the Habs.