Capitals Shutout Ducks

Government prosecutor Cliff Stricklin arrives at the federal courthouse Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2006 in Houston. Stricklin is a member of the prosecution team in the trial against Enron founder Ken Lay and former Enron Jeff Skilling who are facing fraud and conspiracy charges. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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The Washington Capitals opened the defense of their Eastern Conference championship by treating the hometown fans to a performance eerily reminiscent of last season.

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  • Kolzig stopped 29 shots and the Capitals received a sound effort from their defense and special teams Saturday night in a 1-0 victory over the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

    "Olie made some key saves, but he wasn't tested all that much," Washington coach Ron Wilson said. "We played well in our own end, scored a power-play goal and had great penalty killing. It was almost the same recipe as last year."

    The Capitals began the night by raising their Eastern Conference championship banner. Then they displayed the brand of hockey that made last season such a resounding success.

    "Yep, it's the same old, boring Capitals back again," said Wilson, smiling broadly.

    The Mighty Ducks, making their debut under new coach Craig Hartsburg, fell to 0-6 in season openers. Dominic Roussel had 33 saves in a losing effort, allowing only a power-play goal to Richard Zednik in the opening period.

    "Kolzig was the difference -- he was outstanding for the whole 60 minutes," Hartsburg said. "It's unfortunate for us because (Roussel) played equally well."

    Zednik scored eight seconds into Washington's initial power play at 4:34, and the Capitals made the goal stand up by surviving six shorthanded situations. Washington led the NHL in penalty killing last season.

    But the star was Kolzig, who had a 1.95 goals-against average during Washington's surprising run to the Stanley Cup finals.

    Like the Capitals, Kolzig enters the 1998-99 season intent upon proving that last season was not a fluke. A career backup, Kolzig quickly gained the starting job and ultimately led Washingtodeeper into the playoffs than it had ever been before.

    Kolzig, who had four shutouts in the playoffs, was in postseason form Saturday night. In the first period he kicked away a rising wrist shot by Teemu Selanne, who was in prime position to score on a rebound. He smothered a close-in shot by Tomas Sandstrom during a second-period power play and minutes later made a sprawling save to stop Sandstrom's breakaway attempt.

    The Mighty Ducks took only four shots in the third period, none in the opening 11 minutes.

    "You never expect a shutout when you go out on the ice," Kolzig said. "Sometimes it works out that you don't let any in. Sometimes you win when you let in five."

    Moments before the opening faceoff, the Capitals crowded around owner Abe Pollin as he pulled the rope that hoisted the banner to the rafters of the MCI Center, where the Detroit Red Wings on June 16 closed out a 4-0 sweep in the Stanley Cup finals.

    "Even before we got onto the ice tonight you could feel the atmosphere building to a crescendo," Wilson said. "Our guys felt loved."

    Zednik put the Capitals up by taking a pass from Joe Juneau, weaving through the slot and beating Roussel on the glove side. Juneau had 10 assists in 21 playoff games last season and had a team-high eight assists in the preseason.

    Roussel, obtained Oct. 5 in a trade with Nashville, got the start after Hartsburg determined that Guy Hebert had not sufficiently recovered from a shoulder separation he sustained in an exhibition game one week earlier.

    Roussel played well enough; Anaheim's problem was on the other end of the ice.

    "The power play wasn't good. We have to be able to create more chances," Hartsburg said. "We didn't work hard enough to get it set up."

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