The Washington Capitals did something on Thursday night that only one other NHL team has been able to do so far this season - they beat the Ottawa Senators. On the strength of a goal and two assists from Victor Kozlov in the second period, the Caps ended Ottawa's team-record eight-game winning streak with a 4-1 victory over the Senators.
Kozlov had a monster game, probably his best in his brief Capitals tenure. His goal was purely a product of individual effort. On the power play, Kozlov grabbed the puck in Ottawa's corner and then circled out towards the point. The defenseman followed him out to the point and when the forward came away from the Caps defenseman to check Kozlov, the big Russian pivoted sharply back towards the net and broke in alone on goal. He beat Emery
Nicholas Backstrom also scored for Washington; it was his first NHL goal and came on the power play with just over five minutes to go in the second frame. Kozlov was bossing the puck down low again, and threw it out in front of the net as he came around the back of the goal. The puck bounced into the air and Backstrom batted it out of the air for a 2-0 lead.
"It was nice, and we won the game, too, so that was the most important thing," Backstrom offered after the game, "It was just a bonus for me, my first goal, but it was a great feeling."
Tomas Fleischmann made it 3-0 with just under two minutes to go in the second period. 'Flash' took a pass from who else but Kozlov, and snapped a shot short-side, over Emery's right shoulder.
The three-goal lead was short-lived though, as Daniel Alfredsson would breathe life back into the Ottawa crowd with a goal less than a minute after Fleischmann's and with just over a minute to go in the period.
Ovechkin closed out the scoring at 16:15 of the third and put the game away with a real goal scorer's goal. Michael Nylander and Ovechkin broke in two-on-one on the Sens, and when Ovie faked a slap shot, he froze goaltender Emery long enough to snap a quick shot through the five-hole and take an insurmountable three goal lead with just under four minutes to play.
Like most Capital wins, goaltender Olaf Kolzig was huge for Washington. He stopped 27 of 28 shots fired his way, including many big saves that kept his team either in the game, or on top. His best save might have been one he made less than ten seconds into the game that would have surely changed the complexion of the whole game. Chris Kelly broke in on goal straight from the opening faceoff and tried to beat Ovie with a backhand, but Kolzig stoned him and prevented the Sens from taking the lead on the game's first shift.
Entering the game in last place in the Southeast Division due to their loss earlier this week to the Atlanta Thrashers, Washington stopped a four-game slide and moved a point ahead of Atlanta in the standings at 6-9-1. The Capitals sit just two points back of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Washington can pull even with them with a win in their divisional match-up on Saturday at the Verizon Center. Tickets are still available.
The game's three stars:
1st: VIKTOR KOZLOV
2nd: OLAF KOLZIG
3rd: ALEX OVECHKIN