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Kolzig makes 44 saves, Ovechkin scores again as Capitals win

Nov 14, 2006 - 3:12 AM SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) -- Olaf Kolzig and the Washington Capitals are on a modest, early-season hot stretch. But that isn't stopping them from talking about the playoffs.

Kolzig made 44 saves and Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist as the Capitals handed the Florida Panthers their fourth straight loss with a 4-1 triumph.

Dainius Zubrus added two late goals and Matt Pettinger also scored for Washington (8-5-4), which has won four of its last five games and improved to 3-3-2 against Southeast Division opponents.

"The division games are so important because ... there are so many divisional games," Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said. "It doesn't take a statistical genius to figure out that I don't think any team made the playoffs last year without being at least .500 in their division, so you have to put emphasis on these games."

"We talked about it before the game (that) they were behind us in the standings," Kolzig added. "In order for us to make the playoffs, we've got to put teams behind us. That's one team that gave us a lot of fits last year and we feel owe them a little bit of payback."

Pettinger opened the scoring with 1:57 remaining in the first period when he skated by defenseman Steve Montador and stuffed the puck past netminder Alex Auld for his third goal - all in the last four contests.

Nathan Horton tied it with a power-play goal 5:05 into the middle session, but Ovechkin answered just 1:40 later with his team-leading 12th of the season.

The reigning Calder Trophy winner was charging towards the net when he took a feed from captain Chris Clark and redirected the puck under the crossbar for his sixth tally in the last five games.

"You just try to take advantage when you get the chance to score goals," Ovechkin said. "All I'm trying to do is help the team get into the playoffs."

Kolzig did the rest, turning aside at least 40 shots for the third time this season. He has given up just two goals on 87 shots in his last two contests.

"We're almost always happy with Olli's game," Hanlon said. "It goes without saying. I thought that he made all the saves that he needed to early. We're not overly concerned with the number of shots. ... Olli was there for us."

Zubrus capped the scoring with a power-play goal with 5:45 left and an empty-netter in the final minute.

Auld finished with 23 saves for Florida, which has surrendered at least four goals in every game during its losing streak. The team also has scored one or fewer goals six times in 19 games this season.

"We have to find a way to get the puck in the net," Panthers defenseman Mike Van Ryn said.

Florida fired at least 11 shots at Kolzig in every period, including 20 without scoring in the final session.

"We had 45 shots and a lot of chances, the puck just didn't go in tonight," Panthers captain Olli Jokinen said. "(Kolzig's) a good goalie. It's frustrating."

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