Capitals Extend Wings to Shootout, Lose

Olie Kolzig, Valtteri Filppula
Red Wings center Valtteri Filppula tries to push the puck past Olie Kolzig. (Jerry S. Mendoza - AP)
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

DETROIT, Dec. 17 -- Washington Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau was asked before Monday's game what it would take to get an improbable victory over the Detroit Red Wings at venerable Joe Louis Arena.

Boudreau first compared the Red Wings to the undefeated New England Patriots, then said the Capitals likely would need a perfect performance.

Well, it wasn't perfect, and the Capitals didn't win. But they weren't hanging their heads, either, after pushing the league's best team to the brink before falling, 4-3, in a shootout.

"I really believe we deserved two [points], but that is why they are No. 1 -- they take advantage," Boudreau said. "I thought we battled. When you get down 1-0 in this building, you could think, 'Aw geez,' but we fought back and took the lead."

Olie Kolzig turned aside 27 shots, including two in overtime. But he struggled in penalty shots, as he was beaten on consecutive backhanded shots by Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler.

"It's nice, but we had a chance to win the game," Kolzig said. "I just couldn't get it done for the boys in the shootout."

Alex Ovechkin, Jeff Schultz and Alexander Semin scored in regulation for the Capitals. Semin's goal, his third of the season, came with 1 minute 34 seconds left to play in the third period and helped Washington take three of a possible four standings points on this two-game road trip.

Tomas Holmstrom scored twice and Zetterberg added another for Detroit, which also got 27 saves from Dominik Hasek.

The Red Wings, who improved to 15-2-1 at home, felt fortunate to eke out a win, especially after Dave Steckel misfired on an open net in the third period and Ovechkin missed on a semi-breakaway in overtime.

"There's not many teams that keep us off kilter all night long like they did tonight," Detroit Coach Mike Babcock said. "I was impressed, I really was."

Ovechkin blamed himself for missing in extra time, saying: "I have to score this goal. It was very important we win this game."

Ovechkin didn't get a chance in the shootout. After Viktor Kozlov rang a shot off the crossbar, Semin beat Hasek. But the three backhanders for Detroit dropped the Capitals to 0-2 in shootouts after they went 1 for 11 a year ago.

The Capitals have made a habit of pushing top teams to their limit -- and beyond. They halted the Senators' eight-game winning streak in Ottawa on Nov. 8, then handed the New Jersey Devils their first regulation loss in 11 games last week.

They came close against the Red Wings.

"We got one point out of it, which is better than nothing," said defenseman Shaone Morrisonn. "But we felt like we could have won it. We had some power plays in the third period and we gave up two goals on the penalty kill. It's tough."

In the third period, which began tied at 2, the Capitals had ample opportunity to take control. They were granted back-to-back power plays -- Chris Chelios, high sticking, and Zetterberg, tripping -- but didn't manage to generate much pressure in the Detroit end.

Holmstrom made them pay late, when he put the Wings ahead 3-2, deflecting home a perfect pass through traffic from Datsyuk with 4 minutes 43 seconds remaining.

But Semin answered back moments later, blasting a one-timer from point-blank range after a nifty pass from Tom Poti.

Holmstrom's first goal came on the power play at 3:57 of the first period after he redirected a shot by Nicklas Lidstrom (two assists) past Kolzig to put the Red Wings ahead 1-0.

But Ovechkin, playing for the first time in Detroit, brought the Capitals right back. Michael Nylander won a faceoff in the Red Wings' zone, flicking the puck back to Ovechkin, who fired it between Hasek's pads from the high slot.

Schultz's goal, his fourth goal in six games, was about as fluky as they come. Matt Bradley took a pass from Quintin Laing behind the Detroit net and sent a pass out to Schultz, who whipped a shot on goal. The puck hit Holmstrom's stick, fluttered in the air and, with the arc of a jump shot, went over Hasek and into the net.

"We're not quitting," Boudreau said. "There is a good chance if we just keep getting two points here, one point there, rise in the standings and then once they start to believe they are a really good team, then good things usually start to happen."

Capitals Notes: Right wing Chris Clark (strained groin muscle) and center Boyd Gordon (broken right hand) remain on injured reserve and missed their ninth consecutive game.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company