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Kolzig shines for Capitals on night he faces new competition

WASHINGTON - It wasn't what Olaf Kolzig expected.

For 10 seasons, Kolzig has been the Washington Capitals' starting goaltender. On Tuesday, the Capitals surprised Kolzig twice: once by acquiring another potential starting goalie - Cristobal Huet from Montreal - and again by not trading him.

Perhaps a little annoyed, Kolzig responded to the new competition by stopping 34 shots in Washington's 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.

On most other nights, Brooks Laich would be the story after he had his first two-goal and four-point game to give Washington its first win in four games.

But, it was Kolzig's 298th career win - and perhaps his most bizarre.

"I'm just going to play my game," Kolzig said. "If it's good enough to play, I'll play. If not, someone else will play."

Not only is Huet coming, but the Capitals also have Brent Johnson, who had been getting more playing time of late.

"What I'm shocked is that there are still three goalies here," Kolzig said. "I'm still here. It's not like I'm answering questions in Colorado or Phoenix."

Washington coach Bruce Boudreau now has the quandary of which goalie to choose. After the game, he congratulated Kolzig.

"You just want to start a goaltending controversy," Boudreau told him.

It's not an unwelcome feeling for the Capitals coach.

"You need two good goalies - and we have three good goalies," Boudreau said. "There's a lot of teams that have two No. 1 goalies, and it works out for them."

Besides Huet, Washington also acquired veteran centre Sergei Fedorov from Columbus and left-wing Matt Cooke from Vancouver. None were on hand, but they weren't needed.

Minnesota, which made news by acquiring left wing Chris Simon from the New York Islanders, lost its fourth straight as it continues its tumble in the Western Conference.

"They're tense because they really got themselves prepared for the game," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said.

"Sometimes when you think too much about it, you want to play too well, you get tight. My comment to the coaching staff was: 'It's the first time I've seen the guys tight like this."'

"The effort is there - not at its maximum," Lemaire said.

Washington's shooting star wasn't Alex Ovechkin, who hasn't scored in six games - tied for the longest drought in his career. Nor was it Alexander Semin, who had scored in five straight. It was Laich, who scored the first goal and the last. He has 13 goals this season, and four in his last four games.

Laich's first came when he took a long pass from Tomas Fleischmann and beat Nicklas Backstrom on a breakaway at 2:41.

Halfway through the first period, Shaone Morrisonn scored his first goal in nearly a year when he slapped a shot from left point past a screened Backstrom for a 2-0 lead.

"We were a little excited to start with, but when you get a couple of goals early, it gets you into the game and lets you relax a little bit," Laich said.

Kolzig stopped the first 22 Minnesota shots, but the Wild scored on the 23rd. Branko Radivojevic tipped in Eric Belanger's shot at 13:10 of the second period to cut the Capitals' lead to 2-1.

Radivojevic had to be helped off the ice with a cut on his nose in the first period, but quickly returned, and scored for the first time since Dec. 11.

Less than three minutes later, Eric Fehr, who missed nearly 10 months with a back injury scored, from just to the right of Backstrom. It was Fehr's first goal since Feb. 6, 2007, and made it 3-1.

Laich's second goal came late in the second period and gave the Capitals a 4-1 lead.

Notes: Both teams had players scratched with the flu: the Capitals' Viktor Kozlov and the Wild's Mark Parrish. ... Although listed as a scratch, Simon won't report to Minnesota until Wednesday in Tampa Bay. ... Washington recalled LW Christopher Bourque from Hershey for the game. ... After the game, the Capitals send D Sami Lepisto to Hershey. ... The Wild placed RW Matt Foy on injured reserve. ... Minnesota won the previous four games between the teams.


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