The Baltimore Skipjacks out-skated, outhit and outscored the Fredericton Canadiens in a 5-2 American Hockey League
home-opening victory last night before 3,199 at the Baltimore Arena.
Five Skipjacks scored, and Don Beaupre, on rehabilitation assignment from the Washington Capitals, was outstanding in goal.
Thomas Sjogren, Jeff Greenlaw, Reggie Savage, John Purves and Steve Maltais scored for Baltimore. Alfie Turcotte and Chris Felix had two assists each.
"It was nice to finally score a goal," said Maltais, who scored his first of the season by converting a perfect pass from Purves during a power play in the second period. "I hope it will give me confidence and the goals will start to come now. We have a very quick team this year, and we have a lot of guys who can put the puck in the net. We have a lot more team speed, and we're using it to our advantage."
Beaupre, who sat out the preseason in a contract dispute with the Capitals, started his first game of the season and made 20 saves, several of which were point-blank stops.
"I felt good," said Beaupre, who is supposed to be with Baltimore through tonight and then return to the Capitals tomorrow for their trip to Montreal and New Jersey. "The guys did a great job of back-checking in front of me, and we had great puck movement up the ice.
"I'm here to get ready for the National Hockey League, and that's what I'm going to do. Work hard and get ready. It's good to play, and playing will get me in shape. My ankle was fine. [Beaupre bruised it in practice Tuesday.] I didn't have that many tough chances because the guys did such a good job in front of me, but I was very pleased with my effort."
Skipjacks coach Rob Laird agreed.
"We got a big effort from Donnie Beaupre," Laird said. "He didn't have a lot of tough chances, but he made some very big stops for us in the second period. It's nice having him, and I'll be glad to keep him as long as the Capitals want him to stay here, but I don't think it will be for very long."
Fredericton's goals were scored by former Skipjacks defenseman Alain Cote during a power play in the first period and Patrick Lebeau in the third period with the teams skating five-on-five.
"Our main asset right now is our team speed," said Laird. "That's the key to our success. All three lines worked extremely hard and created a lot of chances. We got 36 shots, and that shows we had good puck movement. We are a speedy, quick team that has to move the puck up the ice fast, and that's what we did.
"Our defense also did a splendid job for us. Kent Paynter, Chris Felix, Ken Lovsin, Jim Mathieson, Rob Mendel and Jiri Vykoukal all played well. It was a solid effort. Any time you hold a team like the Canadiens to 22 shots, you have to be playing well on defense."