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  Kolzig, Capitals Try to Stay Upbeat
By C. Jemal Horton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 14, 1998; Page D8


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If only slightly, Olaf Kolzig was smiling last night after Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals. After giving up a goal in the first 35 seconds and, later, the game-winner to the Detroit Red Wings, that was a surprise.

But there was Kolzig, leaning back in his stall in the Washington Capitals locker room, and insisting his team could bounce back from a three-games-to-none deficit in Tuesday's Game 4 at MCI Center.

No one is certain if Kolzig's grin and optimism were genuine. But at this point, that might be all the Capitals have.

"Who's to say we can't do it?" Kolzig asked reporters rhetorically.

Kolzig clearly thought the Capitals should have won this game. For starters, Kolzig and the Capitals disagreed with officials after Tomas Holmstrom's goal gave the Red Wings the lead before the ESPN announcers could introduce themselves.

Kolzig had saved Steve Yzerman's initial shot, and fell down trying to hold on to the puck. But as the puck crept out, Holmstrom's sneaked in and tapped it in for the score. At the time, a 1-0 lead was commanding.

"It was a questionable goal that I thought I had long enough for a whistle," Kolzig said. "It took a lot out of us, I think."

The Capitals struggled for the rest of the first period, missing on passes and failing to keep Detroit players away from Kolzig. Washington Coach Ron Wilson insisted on a better effort.

During the first intermission, Wilson challenged his players.

"He wanted everybody to be accountable," Kolzig said. "He said, 'To all of you who have family here, how are you going to look them in the face if you don't give a better effort?'"

The Capitals adjusted-at least mentally-and came out more aggressively on offense, although Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood was up to the task, keeping the Capitals scoreless until the final period.

Washington tied the score with 9:25 remaining in the game on a goal by Brian Bellows to rejuvenate the Capitals fans. But Kolzig, who had 32 saves, allowed a goal that couldn't be disputed.

On a two-on-one situation, Detroit's Sergei Fedorov slid in and slapped a shot past Kolzig to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead and a chance at their second straight sweep for a Stanley Cup. Kolzig could only shake his head-with a smile-when reflecting on Fedorov's goal.

"That's why he's paid $12 million dollars a year," Kolzig said. "It was a typical Sergei move.

"I still think we have a chance."

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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