Lemieux, Penguins top Caps in OT, 3-2

January 30, 1991|By Associted Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- He has played just twice in a year, but it's evident that Mario Lemieux didn't lose his scoring touch -- or his magic touch -- during his long layoff.

Lemieux, playing his first home game since March 31, tied the score with 5 minutes, 21 seconds remaining and rookie defenseman Paul Stanton won it 2:46 into overtime, rallying the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals last night.

"We know he's going to get big goals, so what he does doesn't surprise us," Kevin Stevens said of Lemieux, who was out with a back injury. "He's that type of player. He finds ways to win games."

Washington's Kelly Miller scored twice in the first 3:06 with Lemieux on the ice, but Lemieux had an assist and the tying goal to delight a sellout crowd of 16,164 that waved black-and-gold "Mario" signs to celebrate his return at home.

Lemieux played in only one of the Penguins' last 22 games last season because of his injury, then missed the first 50 games this season due to back surgery and a lower back infection.

His shot isn't down yet and neither are his moves, but even an 80-percent Lemieux -- by his estimate -- is a force with which to be reckoned.

"I'm still not in shape and I have a long way to go," Lemieux said, "but it feels great to be back. The first goal is always tough to get after a long layoff. I'm glad I scored here in Pittsburgh. If I keep playing like this -- 22, 25 minutes a game -- I'll get in shape quickly."

Until Lemieux sent the game into overtime by slipping Jaromir Jagr's deflected shot under goalie Don Beaupre's stick, the Penguins were 1-14-1 when trailing after two periods.

"Mario's not there yet, but he's going to get a lot better -- a lot better," coach Bob Johnson said. "His shooting was a little off, but he put the shot on the net and made things happen."

Lemieux also assisted on Bob Errey's first-period goal, giving the two-time National Hockey League scoring champion a goal and four assists in two games. He had three assists in Quebec in Pittsburgh's 6-5 victory over the Nordiques Saturday.

Lemieux had just left the ice on a line change in overtime when Scott Young dug the puck out of the right corner and fed Stanton, whose slap shot from the top of the right circle beat Beaupre for his fifth goal of the season.

Washington 2 0 0 0 -- 2

Pittsburgh 1 0 1 1 -- 3

First period--1, Washington, Miller 13 (Ridley), 1:07. 2, Washington, Miller 14 (Ridley), 3:40 (sh). 3, Pittsburgh, Errey 13 (Lemieux, Recchi), 11:08. Penalties-- Tatarinov, Was (holding), 3:06; May, Was (hooking), 7:23; Tatarinov, Was (interference), 12:52; Taglianetti, Pit (cross-checking), 12:52.

Second period--None. Penalties--Hunter, Was (high-sticking), 6:48; Hunter, Was (holding), 8:54; Pederson, Pit (high-sticking), 11:59.

Third period--4, Pittsburgh, Lemieux 1 (Jagr), 14:39. Penalties--None.

Overtime--5, Pittsburgh, Stanton 5 (S.Young, Zalapski), 2:46. Penalties--None.

Shots on goal--Washington 13-10-6-1--30. Pittsburgh 14-11-10-4--39. Power-play opportunities--Washington 0 of 1; Pittsburgh 0 of 4. Goalies--Washington, Beaupre, 9-12-2 (39 shots-36 saves). Pittsburgh, W.Young, 3-3-1 (30-28). A--16,164. Referee--Paul Stewart. Linesmen--Leon Stickle, Brad Lazarowich.

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