By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals still haven't scored a goal in a shootout.
And as a result, their modest two-game winning streak came to an end last night at Verizon Center, where the Boston Bruins skated away with a 3-2 victory before 10,878 fans. The Capitals fell to 0-4 this season in games decided by penalty shots.
"We have what we feel are [players who] are as good as anybody in the league," Coach Glen Hanlon said. "It's just a matter of time."
Those players, however, are not getting the job done. The Capitals are now 0 for 10 in the shootout, with Ovechkin misfiring on all four of his attempts and eight in a row dating from last season.
"Maybe we don't have luck," said Ovechkin, who is 6 for 17 in his career. "We didn't score goals. Me and [Alexander Semin], we must practice our penalty shots."
Call it a roll of the dice. Call it a gimmick. Call it what you want, but each time the Capitals let a shootout slip away, it amounts to another standings point they didn't earn.
Last night, it put a damper on an otherwise decent effort. They fell behind 2-0 in the first period, but rallied on goals by Matt Pettinger and Dainius Zubrus, as well as the goaltending of Olie Kolzig (33 saves).
"We had a couple of bad breaks in the first period and they capitalized," defenseman Brian Pothier said. "We fought real hard and didn't give up. We had a ton of chances. Whatever happens when you get to the shootout, it's a roll of the dice."
After a scoreless third period, during which they were outshot 14-7, the Capitals almost won in overtime. About midway through the extra session, Ovechkin's wrist shot hit Bruins goalkeeper Tim Thomas's glove and momentarily eluded him. But Thomas managed to recover and prevent the puck from trickling in.
"Me, I shot it well," Ovechkin said. "I don't know how Thomas stop it."
In the shootout, Thomas turned away Semin, Ovechkin and Pettinger. Meantime, Patrice Bergeron converted at the other end, beating Kolzig between the pads to lift the Bruins.
"It's strange," Pettinger said. "There's no real mystery or answer to it. You can't really practice it because of the pressure that's involved, whether it's in front of 10,000 or 15,000 people. It's probably been my 10th time, but it doesn't get any easier. It's nerve-racking."
Bruins rookie Phil Kessel delivered the first blow in regulation. The center hopped out of the penalty box, snagged a long pass from Glen Murray and skated in alone on Kolzig. Kessel snapped a shot over the netminder's glove to put Boston ahead 1-0 at 6 minutes 36 seconds of the first period.
Boston's Brad Stuart stretched the visitors' lead to 2-0. The defenseman skated into the high slot and one-timed a slick pass from Marc Savard past Kolzig, who was screened, at 14:06.
But Pettinger's fourth goal in five games, a short-handed tally, brought the Capitals right back. The winger took a pass off the side boards from Matt Bradley, blasted past a Bruins defenseman and beat Thomas between the pads at 16:00 to trim the deficit to 2-1.
The Capitals controlled much of the second period but had nothing to show for it until Zubrus scored on the power play at 12:19, evening things at 2. It was Zubrus's third goal in two games and 12th of the season, and was set up by Ovechkin, who gathered a loose puck in the corner, sidestepped a defenseman and zipped a cross-ice pass to Zubrus.
Capitals Note: Ovechkin has parted ways with Newport Sports Management, his Toronto-based agent Don Meehan confirmed last night. "He told me in a meeting last Thursday that his family would be in charge of all of his affairs from here on in," Meehan said by telephone. "He told me that there were no issues with me at all. He just said this was a family decision."
Ovechkin still owes Newport Sports a percentage of his current contract, which expires after the 2007-08 season. Meehan, one of the most powerful agents in the business, also represents Nicklas Lidstrom, Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf, among other big names, and was instrumental in getting Ovechkin into a Capitals uniform last season. It's believed the move was initiated by Ovechkin's mother, Tatiana.