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Capitals get contributions from all over

by Brian Hunter /
A few thoughts as we settle in for a full day of hockey -- led off by the Flyers and Islanders in a Veterans' Day matinee at Nassau Coliseum:

Finding balance -- Alexander Semin has been hot all season for the Washington Capitals. Alexander Ovechkin has not. One of the keys to the team's success, however, has been not relying too much on any player to provide the offensive heroics, and the team followed that formula in defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 on Monday.

Ovechkin did score his first goal in 10 games, a third-period marker, but the guys responsible for getting the Capitals off to a quick start were a pair of defenseman, Tom Poti and Mike Green, and a forward with just 3 goals in 52 career NHL games starting the night in Eric Fehr.

"I love balance," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It's hard to have balance when you got a couple of 50-goal scorers on your team. But if you can get balance in scoring it makes it more difficult for the other team to cover you and when you get scoring from your defense, which we’ve been doing quite a lot, it makes for tough pre-scouting on the other team."

Boudreau wasn't entirely happy with the win, feeling that the Capitals took a step back after surging to a 3-0 lead in the first period, but he had nothing but praise for Fehr and his linemates, Brooks Laich and David Steckel.

"It was by far our best line. When we play with energy and you outwork the other team, you're gonna have success. That’s why they had success," Boudreau said. "They scored once, they could have easily scored 2 or 3. That's not a line that can score 2 or 3 every game but they could have tonight. Thank goodness the working guys that normally work came to play."

You can't always go home -- Olie Kolzig knows there might be future games for him in goal at Verizon Center, a building he once called home, but none of them will carry the emotion or be quite as unique as Monday, when the veteran of 16 seasons with the Capitals came back wearing a Lightning jersey.

"It will never be old hat, but it definitely won't be as nerve-racking as this one," Kolzig said after stopping 26 shots in the loss. "I'm glad it's over with."

Kolzig's days in Washington were numbered after the team acquired Cristobal Huet at last season's trade deadline. The player who led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Final in 1998 and won the Vezina Trophy two seasons later became a backup, and even though Huet left as a free agent during the offseason, the team signed Jose Theodore to join Brent Johnson as the goalie tandem.

"At the start of the game, it was strange," said Johnson, who got his fourth-straight start Monday and made 34 saves. "Once the puck and the shots started coming, you kind of lose sight of that. But it's always fun to have Olie with me or play against him."

Lightning coach Barry Melrose would have preferred to see his team write a better script for Kolzig than the one that ended up playing out. By the time Tampa got it into gear, the deficit turned out to be too much to overcome.

"After the game, I told the guys, 'Why try when you are down 3-0? Why do it then?"' Melrose said. "It was very disappointing to play like that in front of Olie in Washington. ... Probably the biggest game he's played in years and they show up and do that for him. Those guys should all be hiding their eyes when they walk by Olie Kolzig tonight."

Not too shabby -- They may not exactly be world-beaters at a modest 8-6-1, but when you stop for a moment to consider that the Edmonton Oilers have played 12 of their first 15 games away from home, all of a sudden their record looks pretty impressive.

The Oilers completed a 7-game road trip with 1-goal victories on consecutive nights against the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers, claiming a 3-2 shootout win Monday at Madison Square Garden.

"Two games over .500 isn't exceptional by any standard, but when you've played 12 of 15 on the road, we'll take it," coach Craig MacTavish said.

Both wins came with rookie Jeff Drouin-Deslauries in net. The rookie who had 1 career NHL start prior to making 37 saves Sunday against the Devils followed up that effort with 40 saves through regulation and overtime and then denied all 3 Rangers attempts in the shootout.

"Those guys are so talented, so skilled. I tried to talk to myself, to be as calm as I could. It worked out," Drouin-Deslauriers said.

MacTavish complimented the guy who has become his hot hand in a goaltending rotation that also features veteran Dwayne Roloson and the talented Mathieu Garon.

"He's a big guy and he doesn't venture too far away from the net," MacTavish said. "He was in the right spots and made a 40-save performance look pretty pedestrian. "Until it plays itself out, we'll continue to keep the 3 goalies around. They've all at times played really well. It's a case now of having a guy or 2 sustain it."

Not all was lost -- The Rangers have hit a bit of a rough patch, losing 4 of 5 in November after a record start to their season, but they managed to rally from a 2-0 deficit Monday on goals by defenseman Paul Mara and captain Chris Drury, and salvaged a point out of the night.

"We should take more positive things out of this than some of our wins," said Drury, who came up with the equalizer 46 seconds into the third period.

Forward Brandon Dubinsky agreed: "We got out of a hole, and that is one of the positive things to take away from this game."

Still, the Rangers would have liked to come all the way back and they had to like their chances when the game entered a shootout. Lundqvist has been strong in the past in the penalty-shot competition, but Ales Hemsky's shot on the Oilers' second attempt ticked off his glove and into the net. It would hold up as the winner.

"It slid on the glove and I thought I had it," Lundqvist said. "I tried to locate the puck, and I saw it went in behind me. It is a little frustrating."

Material from wire services and team online media was used in this report.

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