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Postgame Notebook, 3-12-08

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
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300 Club – Caps goaltender Olie Kolzig earned his 300th career NHL win on Wednesday night while running his career mark against Calgary to 6-1-2. Kolzig becomes the 23rd goaltender in league history to achieve the milestone.

Kolzig’s first NHL win came at USAir Arena on Jan. 27, 1995, shortly after the start of the lockout shortened 1994-95 NHL campaign. He defeated the New York Islanders in a game that was also notable for ex-Cap center Jason Allison’s first NHL goal.

“It was against the Islanders at the old USAir Arena,” Kolzig replied, when asked to recount his memories of his first NHL victory. “I think I was 0-8, I can’t remember how I started out. I didn’t see 300 coming, that’s for sure. A 5-2 win. I was ecstatic.

“Other than to win Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals against Buffalo, it was probably the biggest win for me.”

Kolzig notched the milestone win in his first try; he defeated the Sabres in Buffalo a week ago in his previous start to record win No. 299. Kolzig became the first NHL netminder to reach 300 wins since Dominik Hasek did so on Oct. 15, 2005 against Boston.

“At the end of the season it’ll sink in a little more,” said the veteran Caps goaltender. “Obviously, after the way the weekend went for us it was a must-have. I thought we were a little nervous in the first period, but then we played terrific.

“When it’s all said and done I’ll look back. I was looking to play one game in the NHL when I first got drafted, much less have 300 wins. I’ve had a bunch of good players in front of my whole career and I’ve stayed healthy for the most part. There’s nothing worse than hanging around 299, like [Capitals Forward Alex Ovechkin] when he was at 49. It was a good feeling to get it over with and move on.”

In his previous victory over the Flames on Oct. 30, 2006 at Calgary, Kolzig also achieved a notable milestone. That win was career victory No. 258, and it tied him with Hockey Hall of Famer Ken Dryden for 33rd on the league’s all-time list.

Kolzig is now one win behind ex-Ranger Mike Richter for 22nd place on the all-time list.

Rolling Along – Kolzig has won many big games for Washington over the years, and you can add Wednesday’s win to that list. In what certainly qualifies as one of the stranger seasons in his 17-year NHL career, Kolzig is supplying a strong finishing kick.

Since the beginning of February, Kolzig is 6-3-2 with a 2.18 goals against average and a .923 save pct. in 12 games (11 starts). He has allowed two or fewer goals in eight of those 11 starts. Kolzig has allowed three even-strength goals in his last four starts and just 15 even-strength tallies in his last 11 starts.

Stingy in the First – Calgary’s Jarome Iginla scored with just 45 seconds left in the first period, marking the first time since Feb. 23 that the Caps have allowed a goal in the first period of a game.

The Hurricanes’ Matt Cullen victimized Kolzig on Feb. 23 in Carolina. Both Cullen and Iginla scored on the power play. The last time the Caps allowed an even-strength goal in the first period of a game was on Feb. 15 at Florida when the Panthers’ Rostislav Olesz beat Washington’s Brent Johnson.

Capitals goaltenders had stopped 84 consecutive first period shots between Cullen’s goal and Iginla’s 5-on-3 strike.

52 Pick-UpAlex Ovechkin tallied twice on Wednesday, recording his 55th and 56th goals of the season. In beating Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff for the first time, Ovechkin has now scored on 52 different NHL netminders. Ovechkin has also scored against 27 different NHL teams. He has yet to light the lamp against Minnesota, Los Angeles and San Jose.

Power Surge – Ovechkin netted the game-tying and game-winning goals on the power play in Wednesday’s win, and the Caps went 2-for-7 with the extra man on the evening. In their last 15 games, the Capitals have scored 18 power play goals in 60 opportunities for a torrid 30% success rate.

The Caps have now succeeded on 19.4% of their extra-man chances on the season. With 20 power play goals, Ovechkin has accounted for 35% of Washington’s total on the season.

Ovechkin had 21 power play goals as a rookie in 2005-06, one shy of Peter Bondra’s single-season franchise mark of 22 set in 2000-01. Dennis Maruk (20 in 1981-82) is the only other player in Caps history to net 20 power play goals in a season for Washington.

5-on-3 Blues – Three of the last eight goals Washington has allowed have come on two-man advantages, and another came at the exact second in which a two-man advantage expired.

For the season with the two-man advantage, the Caps have been nicked for nine goals on 25 two-man tries covering 22:51. Washington is 2-for-19 in a span of 17:05 in its own two-man advantage situations this season.

Shot Disparity – Calgary outshot Washington 13-2 over the final 16 minutes of the first period. The Capitals outshot the Flames 26-9 over the next 40 minutes of the contest.

Ovie and Iggy – Ovechkin and Iginla are two of several Hart Trophy candidates around the league this season, and both put on a strong show in Wednesday’s game. Ovechkin had a pair of goals while Iginla had a goal and an assist.

Ovechkin’s game-winner was his 21st third period goal of the season, giving him the league lead in that department. His game-winner was his 10th of the season, putting him one ahead of Iginla for the league lead. Only Peter Bondra (13 in 1997-98) and Mike Gartner (11 in 1984-85) have scored more game-winners in a single season for the Caps.

For the Home Folks – Two Caps defensemen – Mike Green and Jeff Schultz – hail from Calgary and both acquitted themselves well in a game that was broadcast back to their hometown via pay-per-view.

Green skated 30:58, recorded a pair of assists and blocked two shots. Schultz had an assist and blocked three shots in 17:25 of work.

Open Fire – Ovechkin fired 11 shots on goal against Calgary, marking the sixth time this season and the second consecutive game in which he has reached double digits in shots on goal.

Ovechkin had seven double-digit shot games as a rookie in 2005-06 and four as a sophomore last season. The only other time in his career that he had consecutive games with 10 or more shots was Feb. 7-10, 2006.

The Chase – As expected, the Caps got no help from the Chicago Blackhawks on this night. Carolina, well rested since Saturday, traveled to Chicago for a date with the Blackhawks. The Hawks played and lost in Detroit last night. The Canes fired home three first period goals and coasted the rest of the way, winning 3-0 to remain seven points in front of the Caps in the Southeast Division standings.

The Caps came into Wednesday’s NHL action with 72 points and in a three-way tie for 10th place with Toronto and Florida, both of which have played one more game than Washington. All three teams are now tied with 74 points, as the Leafs edged the Flyers while Florida took down the Islanders.

Pittsburgh aided the cause by beating Buffalo 7-3. The ninth place Sabres are now one point ahead of the three-team cluster of Washington, Toronto and Florida. Eighth-place Philadelphia is now five points ahead of the Caps.

Thursday’s NHL action features only one game that figures to be of real interest to the Caps. Tampa Bay visits Boston, and the seventh-place Bruins are just a single point ahead of the Flyers.

400 Club – Caps winger Matt Bradley skated in his 400th career NHL game on Wednesday against Calgary.

Happy Birthday – To Caps goaltender Brent Johnson, born on this date in 1977, and to ex-NHL forward and Caps European scout Petri Skriko, born on this date in 1962.

Down on the Farm – The South Carolina Stingrays scored four times in the first period and cruised to a 5-0 whitewash win over the Columbia Inferno at Carolina Coliseum on Wednesday. Marty Guerin scored twice while Travis Morin, Matt Scherer and Cail MacLean added single tallies. Morin’s goal was his 30th of the season; MacLean netted his 19th.

Chris Chaput and Trent Campbell each had a pair of helpers for South Carolina and Davis Parley made 22 stops in the South Carolina cage to record his 31st win and third shutout of the season.

The Stingrays stand third in the ECHL’s South Division, two points behind second place Gwinnett.

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