Kolzig Takes Blame For Loss

Alexander Semin
The Capitals see their three-game winning streak halted, despite another two-goal performance from Alexander Semin. (Steve Nesius - AP)
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 12, 2007

TAMPA, Jan. 11 -- Washington Capitals goaltender Olie Kolzig refused to deflect the blame for Thursday night's 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Instead, he shouldered it all.

"The team played terrific, but the goalie let them down tonight," Kolzig said flatly. "I didn't make the saves when I needed to make them."

It was a rare off night for the veteran, and it couldn't have come at a worse time for the Capitals, whose three-game winning streak came to a wild conclusion at St. Pete Times Forum against a Southeast Division foe they are battling for position in the tight Eastern Conference playoff race.

Washington winger Alexander Semin scored two goals and Alex Ovechkin finished with a pair of assists, but goaltending was the difference against an opponent that boasts as much skill as the Lightning.

Kolzig, who faced 25 shots, said he was most upset about two goals in particular: Vincent Lecavalier's second of the game, scored on a breakaway in a five-goal second period that put Tampa Bay ahead 4-3; and the game winner, netted by Martin St. Louis at 3 minutes 22 seconds into the third period.

"On Lecavalier's breakaway, I read him right and he just put it under my pad," Kolzig said. "And obviously on St. Louis's goal, it was a quick play, but as a goalie, you never like getting beat like that. It was a tough night on my part."

The decisive goal followed a giveaway down low in the Capitals zone when an attempted reverse pass behind the net was intercepted by Vaclav Prospal, who flicked it out to St. Louis. The diminutive winger banged it past Kolzig.

"The game wasn't lost on one play," Capitals Coach Glen Hanlon said. "I'm a firm believer that games aren't won or lost because of one play. We lost because we gave up five goals. . . . I'm not going to put the blame on one person."

Despite the deflating defeat, the mood in the Capitals locker room was rather light. That may be a good thing considering the road that lies ahead.

Thursday's game marked the start of a critical four-game road trip for Washington, which began the night in eighth place in the conference, one point ahead of the Lightning.

After practicing Friday in Tampa, the Capitals have three more games against conference opponents -- Florida, Ottawa and Carolina -- that are also in the thick of the playoff battle.

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