Caps Start Trip Off on High Note

Alex Ovechkin
Alex Ovechkin, center, breaks open the game in the second half with his fifth goal of the season. (David Zalubowski - AP)

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By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 26, 2006

DENVER, Oct. 25 Alex Ovechkin broke open a close game in the second period. Then the star left wing broke the boards in the third.

In other words, it was a vintage Ovechkin performance at Pepsi Center, where his goal, and Olie Kolzig's play in net, clinched a 5-3 win before an announced crowd of 17,047.

Chris Clark, Mike Green, Dainius Zubrus and Matt Bradley also scored for the Capitals, who claimed their first road win. Kolzig finished with 45 saves; Colorado's backup netminder, Peter Budaj, had 25.

"Before the game we talked about starting off the road trip strong," Bradley said. "We didn't have a great first period, but Olie kept us in the game. And what can you say about Ovie? Nothing he does surprises me anymore."

In a game full of highlights, one stands above them all. It happened seconds into the third period, when Ovechkin laid a board-rattling shoulder check on Colorado defenseman Karlis Skrastins. The impact shattered the glass, sending shards into the penalty box and onto the ice. Play was halted for about five minutes while maintenance workers made the necessary repairs.

"I told Ovie, 'You're always trying to make the highlights,' " Kolzig joked. "Skrastins isn't a little guy, either. He's usually the one dishing them out. I'm sure they'll play that one over and over like they did with 'The Goal' last year."

Coach Glen Hanlon added, "It was so typical of Alex to score a great goal, break the glass and even get an opportunity on a penalty shot by blocking a shot."

The penalty shot Hanlon referred to came with 8 minutes 2 seconds left to play after Avalanche defenseman Ken Klee dragged down Ovechkin from behind. Ovechkin, however, misfired high and wide.

Asked what was more exciting -- his timely goal, splattering Skrastins, or taking the penalty shot -- Ovechkin cracked a wide smile, and said: "Breaking the glass. First time for me. I was surprised, like wow, I'm strong."

Ovechkin got a scare in the final seconds when he was hit on the right leg by a slap shot off the stick of Capitals defenseman Shaone Morrisonn. Ovechkin went down hard and limped to the locker room, but later said he was "okay."

Andrew Brunette's second goal of the game, with Budaj pulled for an extra attacker and the Avalanche already on the power play, trimmed the deficit to 4-3 with 2:38 left.

But an empty-net goal by Bradley with 35 seconds remaining sent the Capitals on their way with some much-needed momentum.

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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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