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Steckel's third-period goal gives Capitals 2-1 win over Avalanche

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

WASHINGTON - Olie Kolzig lost his bid for a shutout with just a few minutes left, but insisted he wasn't disappointed.

"With my track record, I never think shutout," the Washington Capitals goalie said. "For me, the bottom line is the win. Shutouts are a nice bonus. If we only scored one goal, the shutout would have been key." The Capitals got two goals, by Donald Brashear and David Steckel each in the third period, and Kolzig made 18 saves in a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.

Kolzig has 35 shutouts in his 16-season NHL career, including one this season. He hasn't been playing particularly well, allowing six goals in a win in Ottawa late last month, and coach Bruce Boudreau vowed to give more playing time to Kolzig's backup, Brent Johnson.

That plan went fell to the wayside when the understudy sprained a knee on Dec. 28. Kolzig has played 10 straight games, and Boudreau had a good feeling about his goalie the day before the Capitals played the Avalanche.

"We knew he was going to be sharp yesterday," Boudreau said. "He was sharp as a tack, and we all thought he was going to play great."

The game was scoreless until Brashear scored 2:51 into the third period. Matt Bradley skated from behind the net and directed a pass to Brooks Laich, whose shot from the left circle was tipped past Jose Theodore by Brashear.

With 3:59 left, Steckel tapped the puck off a Colorado defender and past an out-of-position Theodore, who made 21 saves, for a 2-0 lead. It was Steckel's fourth goal of the season.

"I was coming back in front because I thought I was going to get another whack at it, and it trickled in there," Steckel said.

Theodore had played well for the first two periods, and was hoping for his first shutout since Feb. 28, 2004, but it was Steckel's goal that stung.

"Just a bad break, I think," Theodore said. "It just seems right now (that) those are the differences. It's not something we can really work on."

The Avalanche, who were in danger of being shut out for the second straight game for the first time since Nov. 2001, scored just 38 seconds after Steckel's goal on Marek Svatos' breakaway to make it 2-1.

Colorado, which had 19 shots in its 1-0 loss to Detroit on Tuesday night, had only nine in the first two periods, had no choice but to play aggressively. In the final minute, the Avalanche pulled Theodore, and Tyler Arneson, who had missed the previous 12 games with a wrist injury, had a clean shot at the tie, but Kolzig kicked it away.

"I held my ground, and was able to get my toe on it," Kolzig said.

He was helped on Wednesday night by Colorado's passive offense. The Avalanche, who have just five goals in the past four games, were playing without the injured Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth.

"We're having a hard time generating offense," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. "We're not getting much production, and that's what we're looking for."

Notes: Glen Hanlon, fired as the Capitals' coach on Nov. 22, accepted a scouting job with the team. He'll be based out of Washington. ... Quenneville coached his 800th game. He's one of three to coach and play 800 NHL games. ... Colorado played its first game in Washington since March 16, 2003. ... Boudreau celebrated his 53rd birthday.


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