For the first time in more than three years, Olaf Kolzig recorded a shutout. For the first time in six games, the Washington Capitals recorded a win. Kolzig back-stopped the Capitals to a 1-0 victory over the Florida Panthers and earned his 34th career shutout by stopping all 27 shots that he faced.
For Kolzig, the win was his 22nd victory of the season, and his first shutout since Feb. 15, 2004, a 4-0 Capitals' win at Chicago. The 18-year veteran goaltender down-played his performance as one might expect, "There was a lot of a help, lot of luck."
Coach Glen Hanlon wasn't buying it. "Tonight was a game that he wanted to make a statement for his team, and he did it," Hanlon said of his goalie. "This is how we're going to have to play next year. We're going to have to play tight hockey and win 1-0 games."
Even Panthers' coach Jacques Martin recognized Olie's performance, "I thought that we got stronger as the game went on and just weren't able to get one by Kolzig. I thought we had several good chances we hit a couple of posts and he made a couple of good saves."
Despite only being able to muster 17 total shots on goal, Alex Ovechkin's 44th goal of the season was all the Caps would need thanks to Kolzig's play. "We worked hard and Olaf did an unbelievable job," Ovechkin offered.
Ovechkin's goal came just over five minutes into the second period on a shot from the high slot. He took a pass from Brooks Laich and one-timed it past Panthers' goaltender Craig Anderson. Milan Jurcina also got an assist on the game's only goal.
For Ovechkin, it was his 90th point of the season and he became the first Capital to do so back-to-back since Dennis Maruk managed the feat in 1980-81 and 1981-82. His 44th goal also gave him 96 in his first two seasons - only Dany Heatley (Ottawa Senators) has more goals over that time span.
The loss by the Panthers, combined with other results Tuesday night, officially eliminated Florida from the 2006/07 playoffs.
With two games to play, Washington now needs just two points to match their 2005/06 final season total (70). The Caps have their last road game on Wednesday night in Atlanta against the Thrashers, and will try to end a nine game road slide (0-7-2).
They return home to the Verizon Center for their final game of the season on Saturday against the league's best team - the Buffalo Sabres. Note that the game time is at 1:00pm as it is also Washington Capitals' Fan Appreciation Day. Every fan in attendance will receive an Alex Ovechkin banner, and the Caps will be handing out prize giveaways like game used equipment, autographed merchandise, airline tickets and game jerseys.
In fact, this entire week is Fan Appreciation Week, so visit the Capitals' website for full details.