New Capital Helps Break Old Streak

Nicklas Backstrom, Olie Kolzig
Nicklas Backstrom, who scored in the first period, congratulates goaltender Olie Kolzig after the Capitals victory. (Nick Wass - AP)
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ten years after being drafted, Quintin Laing finally got the chance to flash his gap-toothed smile on hockey's biggest stage.

The 28-year-old career minor leaguer, who was recalled two weeks ago for his defensive prowess, scored his first NHL goal -- it turned out to be the game winner, no less -- to help the Washington Capitals defeat the New Jersey Devils, 3-2, last night at Verizon Center.

"I didn't know whether to jump or keep skating. I'm just happy Jeff Schultz was there to stop me because I probably would have the gone the whole way" down the ice, Laing said. "It was a big goal, too."

The Capitals, who also received goals from Nicklas Backstrom and Schultz, won their second straight, third in four games and first over the Devils in Washington since 2004. It also lifted them to 5-3-1 under interim coach Bruce Boudreau.

"We had a rough start this season, but we've always been confident of the guys we have in this room and our character," right winger Matt Bradley said. "Bruce has a great system and we played it pretty well in the second period."

Laing's goal, scored on a backhander past New Jersey backup goalie Kevin Weekes, came in only his eighth NHL game and put the Capitals in control, 3-1, late in the second period.

But Olie Kolzig (20 saves) and his teammates had to sweat out an intense and controversial third period before celebrating a rare home victory over the Devils, who had won nine of their previous 10 games. One of those wins came at the expense of Washington, which dropped a 3-2 decision in Newark on Friday.

The controversy occurred when Devils defenseman Mike Mottau appeared to score 52 seconds into the final frame when the puck deflected in off his skate. The goal was disallowed, though, after a lengthy video review.

The Devils got their second score less than two minutes later anyway when feisty winger David Clarkson scored on a wraparound. But New Jersey Coach Brent Sutter was still seething afterward about the one that was disallowed.

"It's not the right call," he said. "It didn't hit the foot that showed the kicking motion, and that's clear on the replay."

"But that's not why we lost tonight," Sutter added. "Our second period was brutal."

The Capitals had a big hand in that. They dictated the play in the middle period, outshooting the Devils 10-2 and outscoring their guests 2-0.

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