Toronto offers no re-leaf: Capitals lose again, 7-1 HOCKEY


TORONTO -- Olie Kolzig's knee wasn't the only thing dislocated on the Washington Capitals after last night's 7-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. There are plenty of problems on this club, winless five games into the NHL season.

"This might have been our best game of the year, that's how bad things are," Capitals captain Kevin Hatcher said. "Everyone's looking for answers, but you can't pinpoint one area."

Slinking home from a three-game road trip during which their goals-against ballooned to a league-high 30, the Caps are two losses shy of tying the club record for most losses to start the season, set in 1983-84.

In addition to lack of morale, cohesion hustle, and points, the Caps are short of goaltenders, having lost rookie Kolzig in last night's first period. Kolzig was behind his net, trying to pass a puck to Hatcher, when Toronto's Rob Pearson burst in, stole it and stuffed it in a vacated net. Kolzig was twisted awkwardly trying to spread his pads across the crease to stop it.

"I put weight on the kneecap and it buckled," Kolzig said. "I'll be examined by Dr. [Stephen] Haas when we get back, and I'm told I'll be out three to four weeks if it's just a minor injury."

Kolzig is with the team while Rick Tabaracci recovers from a preseason knee injury. Tabaracci is at least a week away, according to club officials, and it isn't clear who the team will summon from the farm. Don Beaupre, who was pulled during his previous two starts, gave up five goals on 21 shots.

Caps coach Terry Murray called a team meeting to express his anger after two days of preparation on tightening the defense went up in smoke, but doubted if the lecture did any good. "So many meetings, so much talk," he said. "We meet as a team, in small groups . . . it's almost like we're meetinged out. There comes a time where it has got to come from within. The only way this team will get better is when the individuals get better."

General manager David Poile wore a long look in the Maple Leaf Gardens press box. At stages of the game, played before 15,608, the Capitals had no interest in tangling with the Leafs, getting beaten to the puck in the corner and allowing the Leafs second and third rebounds. Murray changed a few lines, sat out a couple of players, but with no result.

"Maybe it is time guys looked in the mirror," Hatcher said. "We should do what we do best, what got us in the NHL."

All-star defenseman Al Iafrate accepted some of the blame. "I play half the games, I'm an all-star, and everyone said nice things about me, so when we lose, it's my fault. But this didn't happen overnight. We lost in the playoffs because we didn't play well. "I don't know what's wrong. We make mistakes, other teams make mistakes, but ours end up in our net."

Brad Jones had the lone Caps goal, tipping an Iafrate shot. But the club had missed three of its six power-play chances by then and trailed by two goals by Pearson. Leaf captain Wendel Clark had two goals for Toronto, before Washington's Shawn Anderson fell on him late in the game and caused a strained knee. Ex-Cap Peter Zezel, Dave Andreychuk and Nikolai

Borschevsky had the other Leaf goals.

Washington 0 1 0 -- 1

Toronto .. 2 2 3 -- 7

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