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Avalanche Roll Over Caps in OT

Good hustle turned into bad luck for the Washington Capitals as Calle Johansson hurried out of the corner to disrupt Sandis Ozolinsh's shot just a few seconds into overtime.

Johansson managed to get his stick in the way, but the deflected puck still found the net over goaltender Olaf Kolzig's left shoulder, giving the Colorado Avalanche a 3-2 victory Tuesday that left the playoff chances of the defending Eastern Conference champions more remote than ever.

"I tried to get out there and poke it away, tip it, direct it somewhere," Johansson said. "But unfortunately it hit my stick and went in the net."

The goal, 19 seconds into the extra period, was just the third of the season for defenseman Ozolinsh, who fired his slap shot from the left circle from Valeri Kamensky's pass.

"It was a cheesy goal," Washington defenseman Enrico Ciccone said. "It's always that kind of goal that happens. It hit off a stick and caught Olie off balance. It's too bad. Olie didn't deserve that."

The Avalanche could hardly care. They won their second straight road game without three of their stars: goaltender Patrick Roy, leading scorer Peter Forsberg and recent acquisition Theoren Fleury.

Roy has the flu and Forsberg is nursing a sprained elbow both are day-to-day while Fleury is out indefinitely with a sprained knee. Still, the Avalanche beat Pittsburgh 3-1 Sunday without the trio and are unbeaten in 12 of their last 13 road games.

"We managed to find a way to win the game," coach Bob Hartley said. "It's a big two points for us. We played them tight. We knew that they would come good at us."

Chris Drury, a contender for the league's leading rookie scorer, and Adam Deadmarsh scored in the second period as the Avalanche improved to 3-1 on their road trip.

The Capitals weren't exactly full strength, either, in a game that featured two of the top three teams in man-games lost due to injuries. Among the recent additions are Joe Juneau, who is suffering headaches, and Steve Konowalchuk, who has a concussion. The Capitals did get back defenseman Brendan Witt, who had missed 15 games with a sprained wrist.

Andrei Nikolishin scored in the game's first minute and Michal Pivonka early in the third for the Capitals, who lost ground in their daunting attempt to climb to the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. They now trail eighth-place Boston by seven points following the Bruins' 2-0 victory over Florida on Tuesday.

"It's not over yet," Johansson said. "Eighteen games to go. But we can't win one and lose one, we've got to go on a winning streak."

Craig Billington, who had played well subbing for Roy, gave away a goal that tied the score 2-2 with 17:08 remaining in the game. Billington was well in front of the crease when he cleared the puck straight to Pivonka, who got off his shot while the goalie was scrambling back to the net.
"The situation as a goalie, when we make a mistake, it goes in the net," Billington said. "Heck, if you only make two mistakes all game long, that's terrific."

Deadmarsh scored the game's best goal, skating down the left wing around defenseman Sergei Gonchar and firing over the diving Kolzig to give the Avalanche a 2-1 lead with just 6.1 seconds left in the second period.

The Capitals scored just 45 seconds into the game when Andrei Nikolishin's long-range slap shot beat Billington to the left. Washington seemed poised to build on the lead a few minutes later when they had a two-man advantage for 1:50, but they played the 5-on-3 cautiously and took just two shots.

With the Avalanche not buried, Drury was able to tie the game on a power-play goal from the right circle at 6:14 of the second period.

"We always bounce back," Washington coach Ron Wilson said in curt postgame remarks that lasted maybe a minute. "We'll bounce back."

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