Kolzig has easy night as Caps get by Sabres

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) -- The Washington Capitals put together an

impressive victory and gave goalie Olaf Kolzig a much-needed

breather in the process.

Kolzig only needed to make 15 saves, and Jamie Heward broke a

tie on a two-man power play early in the third period in

Washington's 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday

night.

The game was played at Blue Cross Arena, the home of the Sabres'

American Hockey League affiliate.

Kolzig's light night was a welcome change from his last three

games, where he faced 40 or more shots in each. Kolzig faced an

average of nearly 39 shots in his first eight outings.

"It was great," said Kolzig, who won his fourth game of the

year and helped Washington snap a two-game losing streak. "We have

to remember to play that way every night. It was just a terrific

hockey game for us."

After being blitzed with shots in their first nine games, the

Capitals regrouped during a three-day layoff. The adjustments

worked to perfection against the Sabres, who were averaging an

NHL-high 36.4 shots per game.

"We changed our system a little bit and it seemed to frustrate

them," Kolzig said. "Everyone was committed to playing that way,

and playing hard all night."

Washington also was able to combat its special teams troubles.

The Capitals came in averaging nine minor penalties per game, but

were whistled for only six Wednesday. Heward's goal with the

man-advantage in the third snapped an 0-for-26 skid on the power

play.

"We were struggling in every aspect," Heward said. "We just

had a game tonight where we changed some things up and created some

chances. We're making strides in that respect. Against teams that

have more firepower, that's what we have to do."

Jeff Friesen and Petr Sykora also scored for the Capitals.

Ales Kotalik and Jochen Hecht scored for Buffalo in the Sabres'

first home loss of the season, and first defeat in three games.

"They dumped the puck in religiously," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff

said. "Their puck pursuit was very good. We did them a favor --

almost every time we went up ice, we tried to turn it over."

Heward fired a slap shot into the top right-hand corner of the

net with five seconds remaining on Washington's two-man advantage.

Kotalik was called for tripping 2:27 into the period, and Rory

Fitzpatrick was sent off for holding 13 seconds later.

Kolzig made the goal stand up with a nice kick save on

Fitzpatrick's shot with less than five minutes to go.

"We just stayed with it," said Heward, who spent the last

three seasons playing in Switzerland. "We got to pucks and got

rewarded for it. It's nice to get a good power-play goal finally."

Kotalik opened the scoring on a power-play goal with 5:22 left

in the first period, beating Kolzig with a slap shot from the right

point.

Washington countered 22 seconds later, with Friesen picking up a

loose puck in front of the Buffalo net and wristing a shot past

Ryan Miller.

The Capitals took a 2-1 lead early in the second when Sykora

converted a pass from Matt Pettinger on a 2-on-1 break. The goal

was upheld by video review after Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder

slid into Miller, who lifted the net off its pegs, but only after

the puck crossed the goal line.

Hecht tied it at 2 at 1:18 of the third.

Steve Eminger added two assists for Washington.

"It's a refreshing change," Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said

about Kolzig's less-than-busy night. "The strength of our hockey

team is our goalie. When you abuse your goalie to 40 shots a night,

it's hard to use that as your strength."

Miller was denied a chance to become the first rookie since Ed

Belfour in 1990 to win seven games in October. Miller has played in

every game for Buffalo this season.

"We can chalk [the loss] up to a bad night," he said.Game notes
The Sabres last played a regular-season game in Rochester

in November 2003, a 2-2 tie with New Jersey. ... Washington D Bryan

Muir returned to the lineup for the first time since aggravating

his groin injury on Oct. 12 against Carolina. He assisted on

Heward's goal. ... Sabres G Mika Noronen has been scratched for all

nine games this season. ... Rookie LW Alexander Ovechkin recorded

an assist, and has points in nine of 10 games. ... Washington's

scheduled game Saturday night in Florida has been postponed because

of Hurricane Wilma.