Odd Penalty Pun­ishes Fum­ing Caps

The Washington Post Sunday - - Hockey - By Tarik El-Bashir

TAMPA, March 31 — Mo­ments af­ter Tampa Bay Light­ning de­fense­man Dan Boyle scored a piv­otal power-play goal Satur­day night at St. Pete Times Fo­rum, Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals goal­tender Olie Kolzig hopped to his skates and an­grily whacked his stick against the post.

When the pe­riod ended a few min­utes later, Kolzig, known for his fiery tem­per, kicked the puck the length of the ice as the play­ers skated to their re­spec­tive locker rooms. The vet­eran was clearly fu­ri­ous about the cir­cum­stances that led to Boyle’s tally, which proved to be the game-win­ner in the Light­ning’s 5-2 vic­tory over the strug­gling Cap­i­tals.

Boyle, who flipped the puck over Kolzig as he was sprawled, scored while left wing Alexan­der Semin sat in the penalty box for in­ex­pli­ca­bly pick­ing up — and throw­ing — the puck from near the blue­line into the cor­ner af­ter be­ing knocked to the ice. Of­fi­cially called “clos­ing hand on puck,” it was eas­ily the strangest in­frac­tion called on a Wash­ing­ton player this sea­son. Cap­i­tals Coach Glen Han­lon re­sponded by bench­ing Semin, the team’s sec­ond-lead­ing scorer, for the en­tire third pe­riod.

“It was a 2-1 hockey game and we were play­ing great,” Kolzig said. “But what­ever rea­son those types of penal­ties al­ways come back to bite you in the butt. And it did. Un­til we elim­i­nate those things we’re not go­ing to go any­where as an or­ga­ni­za­tion, and we ad­dressed that af­ter the game.”

Af­ter­ward the play­ers met for about 15 min­utes be­hind closed doors. Al­though no one would di­vulge ex­actly what was said, when the meet­ing ended, all-star left wing Alex Ovechkin emerged from the locker room and smashed his stick re­peat­edly against the wall and a trash can un­til it broke into four pieces, ac­cord­ing those who wit­nessed the episode. Ovechkin’s iPod and head­phones also were com­pletely de­stroyed, crum­pled in the hall­way.

Ovechkin and Semin, who are close friends and who were line- mates on Satur­day, left with­out speak­ing to the me­dia. Asked why thought Ovechkin was so an­gry, Kolzig said: “I’m sure he’s prob­a­bly frus­trated with what hap­pened and in the meet­ing. And that’s re­ally all I’m go­ing to say. It wasn’t tar­geted at Ovie. He’s ob­vi­ously our guy. But it was some­thing he didn’t want to hear.”

Boyle’s piv­otal goal was the 10th power-play score yielded by the Cap­i­tals over the past six games, all losses. The two minute mi­nor also gave Semin 90 penalty min­utes this sea­son, the third high­est to­tal on the team, be­hind de­fense­man Shoane Mor­risonn and Don­ald Bras­hear.

“We’re a team that’s tak­ing a lot of bad penal­ties,” Han­lon said. “We just can’t af­ford to do those things. Good teams don’t do th­ese things. When we talk about ex­e­cut­ing some­thing, we ex­pect it to be done 100-per­cent of the time.”

Jo­han Holmqvist, mean­time, made 23 saves for the Light­ning and Vin­cent Le­cav­a­lier, Martin St. Louis and Ja­son Ward also scored to help it win for the sec­ond straight night and, in the process, tighten its grip on an East­ern Con­fer­ence play­off berth.

The Cap­i­tals’ ob­jec­tive for the sea­son’s fi­nal week is much more mod­est. They sim­ply are try­ing to match or sur­pass last sea­son’s point to­tal of 70, a chal­lenge be­came even more dif­fi­cult af­ter Satur­day’s de­feat, the Cap­i­tals’ sixth to Tampa Bay this sea­son.

Le­cav­a­lier scored only 36 sec­onds into the game and the Light­ning held a 2-1 lead af­ter an in­tense and phys­i­cal open­ing 20 min­utes of play. The early goal gave Tampa Bay an early boost, but the Cap­i­tals even­tu­ally matched their en­ergy and pulled even on a goal by Matt Pet­tinger, who banged in a pass from Chris Clark at 11:16.

Ryan Craig re­stored the Light­ning’s lead, 2-1, at 13:29, af­ter he skated down the slot and fired a shot be­tween Kolzig’s pads.

Kolzig and the Cap­i­tals, how­ever, man­aged to keep the Light­ning at bay for much of the sec­ond pe­riod. That is, un­til Semin was whis­tled for throw­ing the puck.

“In the heat of bat­tle things hap­pen,” Clark said. “He wanted to get the puck out of there. But you have to be smarter than that.”


The Caps’ Don­ald Bras­hear, top, and An­dre Roy find them­selves in the mid­dle of a brouhaha in the first pe­riod. It was Bras­hear’s 14th fight of the sea­son.

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