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A Two-Trick Poni

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Scoring | Statistics

January 22, 2004

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Too bad Alexei Ponikarovsky can't play all of his games in Washington.

Ponikarovsky has scored just seven career NHL goals, but four have come against Olaf Kolzig on the road. The Ukrainian left wing got two in the third period Wednesday night, giving the Toronto Maple Leafs a 3-2 victory over the Capitals.

"It's just weird," said Ponikarovsky, who has played just 83 games over four seasons. "You just play, get chances and score goals."

Ponikarovsky's slap shot from just inside the blue line trickled between Kolzig's legs to break a 1-1 tie 3:43 into the final period. Ponikarovsky made it a two-goal lead at 8:28, finishing off a nice one-two with Tomas Kaberle.

Craig Johnson netted his first with the Maple Leafs.
(Photo by Mitchell Layton)
Ponikarovsky scored his first NHL goal against Kolzig and the Capitals on Feb. 1, 2001. He has scored four goals this season, including three in Washington.

"Yeah, he seems to enjoy playing in this rink," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. "I like that he's starting to shoot the puck. He never did shoot the puck before. The first goal that he had maybe wasn't one of those things that was a work of art, but he put it at the net."

Kolzig certainly doesn't care to have a little-known nemesis. He answered questions after the game with his usual calm demeanor, but he flung his equipment bag against the wall in a rage of temper as he walked into the hall, then kicked hard against the door of the dressing room.

Coach Glen Hanlon, an ex-goaltender, said Kolzig can't be faulted for the shot that went between the pads.

"It was spinning, and it just dove down hard. It was a quail coming down on him," Hanlon said. "Was he in the right spot? Yeah. You can't do anything differently. He just didn't stop it."

Trent Whitfield and Peter Bondra scored for the Capitals, whose season-high five-game point streak ended. Bondra's power-play goal with 5:40 remaining made it a one-goal game.

Craig Johnson scored his second goal of the season for the Maple Leafs. Ed Belfour made 21 saves, one night after beating the New York Islanders 2-0. Belfour made a nice stop on a breakaway by Bondra midway through the third.

After a scoreless first period, Whitfield put Washington on the board by converting a crossing pass from Josef Boumedienne with the teams skating four-on-four. It was Whitfield's second goal of the season, scored one week after his first, against Calgary.

Johnson tied it a little more than two minutes later, falling down as he reached around a defender to poke in a rebound.

Game NotesAs they have so often in the past year, rumors swirled again that the Capitals had traded -- or were about to trade -- Jaromir Jagr to the New York Rangers. Hanlon laughed at the reports. "Hopefully, they tell his coach next time -- so he doesn't play an illegal player," the coach said. ... Leafs LW Darcy Tucker had surgery on his left eye and will be out indefinitely. He was hit in the face by Islanders forward Jason Blake's stick Tuesday. Toronto recalled F Josh Holden from the AHL. ... Toronto C Tom Fitzgerald, who limped off the ice Tuesday after blocking a shot with his foot, didn't play. ... The Maple Leafs won the season series 2-0-2. They swept all four games last season. Washington's last win over Toronto was March 21, 2002. ... Washington C Dainius Zubrus, out since Dec. 31 with a broken foot, took part in his first full practice since the injury Tuesday. He said he expects to return to the lineup Friday against Florida or Sunday against Philadelphia.
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