WASHINGTON (AP) _ Washington goalie Olaf Kolzig ensured the Capitals didn't miss Peter Bondra too much Thursday night.
Kolzig continued his recent strong play with 43 saves, and Mike Grier, Matt Pettinger and Robert Lang each scored as the Capitals defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-1 in their first game following Wednesday's trade of Bondra to Ottawa.
``It was pretty quiet, more so than it's been,'' Kolzig said of the pregame atmosphere. ``I guess we're in a state where you never know what's going to happen. With him getting traded, it's equivalent to the Capitals as Gretzky getting trade. Anybody's available to go.''
Several fans began chanting, ``We want Peter'' when the Capitals started slowly, but the announced crowd of 14,595 changed sentiments and gave Kolzig a huge ovation at game's end. Kolzig is 4-2-2 in his last eight starts despite the fact Washington has allowed at least 30 shots in each of its last 10 games _ and 40 shots in five of the last eight.
New Jersey held a 44-26 advantage in shots, keeping Kolzig busy after he made 47 saves in Tuesday's 1-1 tie with Ottawa.
``Olie's been sensational,'' Washington coach Glen Hanlon said. ``I just have so much admiration and appreciation [for him].
``For whatever reason, we were better tonight. The guys worked hard and made good decisions.''
Washington was ranked 29th in goals allowed (182), ahead of only Pittsburgh (233). The Devils had allowed the fewest goals (114), but Kolzig and the Capitals' defense played consistently and shut down New Jersey after it controlled the first 10 minutes.
``I was disappointed,'' New Jersey coach Pat Burns said. ``We had two or three chances in the first few minutes, and we didn't capitalize. We got away from our game.''
The Devils got 10 shots in the first eight minutes and 15 in the first period. But the game remained scoreless until Grier connected 6:46 into the second period. Grier redirected Sergei Gonchar's slap shot past New Jersey goalie Scott Clemmensen after the Washington defenseman stole a pass near the blue line.
The Devils tied the score when Patrik Elias flicked a rebound past Kolzig. Washington took a 2-1 lead later in the period when Pettinger scored a power-play goal on a breakaway. Josef Boumedienne sprang Pettinger with a perfect pass through the neutral zone.
Lang added his goal four minutes into the third period, firing a shot through traffic. Gonchar, one of the other Capitals reportedly on the trading block, finished with two assists.
``We can't give away points like that,'' Elias said. ``We need every point.''
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