The Washington Capitals are off to a 3-0 start for the first time since the 2002-03 season. That season, Jaromir Jagr led the Caps to the playoffs, the last time the franchise qualified for the post-season. In 1997-98, the team started 4-0, and played their way to the Stanley Cup finals, thanks in large part to the inspired play of Olie Kolzig.
Kolzig, so far in this young season, has stood on his head as he did in the ’98 playoffs. His 30 stops against the Islanders brings his career record against the Eastern Conference foes to 26-9-2. Kolzig was stellar between the pipes, allowing the Caps’ skaters to continue plugging away, until 7:58 in the third when Brooks Laich scored the game-winning goal.
Michael Nylander stole the puck on a clearing attempt from Mike Comrie. Nylander brought the puck into the offensive zone, and passed the puck to Brian Pothier just inside the blue line, who sent a hard slap shot on net. Islanders’ netminder Rick DiPietro made the initial stop, but could not control the rebound. Laich, who hadn’t scored in 21 games, dug the puck out from under the sprawling DiPietro, and put the puck in the back of the net. Laich’s goal and Pothier’s assist marked the ninth and tenth Capitals to make the score sheet in the first three games of the season.
The Islanders started the scoring off 6:30 into the game on a Richard Park goal. Michael Nylander turned the puck over in the neutral zone, and Park made him pay. Darryl Bootland gathered the loose puck and hit Park in the slot for what proved to be the Islanders only tally of the evening.
Ironically, 7:58 into the second (the same time into the third on Laich’s game-winner), Viktor Kozlov, who played for these very Islanders last season, notched his second goal of the season to tie the game at one a piece. Alex Ovechkin set up Kozlov’s glove-side slapper with a beautiful pass close to the edge of the circle. The two Russians have each scored a point in all three Caps victories, and the more they work together, the better they will get, which bodes well for the team’s post-season aspirations.
The Caps get three days off before they continue their trek through New York on Friday when they take on the New York Rangers. They then travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres the following night. After four days off they play the Islanders again, only this time in the friendly confines of the Verizon Center.
– Scott Hurrey
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Scott Hurrey