LANDOVER -- Michal Pivonka had a goal and three assist and Mikhail Tatarinov recorded two goals for the first time in his National Hockey League career, as the Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 6-0, in a Patrick Division game before a sellout crowd of 18,130 at the Capital Centre last night.
The victory, coupled with the New Jersey Devils' 6-2 road loss to the Hartford Whalers, lifted Washington into a tie for fourth place with the Devils, one point behind the Flyers. The Caps, however, have their playoff destiny firmly in their control. They have eight games remaining, the Flyers and Devils only seven.
Nine of the 12 playoff spots in the other three divisions have been secured, but no team in the Patrick Division is assured of a playoff spot.
It was a big night for the Caps' East European trio. In addition to Pivonka, a Czechoslovakian, and Tatarinov, a Soviet who added an assist to his two goals, Dimitri Khristich, another Soviet player, added one goal and two assists.
Calle Johansson, a Swede, added to the international flavor with three assists, making it four Caps with three or more points.
It was the first time the Caps had won by more than four goals this season. It also was Don Beaupre's third shutout of the season, but first since late October.
The Caps are 5-1-2 in their past eight games. The Flyers' only win in their last eight was Wednesday over the Vancouver Canucks.
The last time the teams played, they combined for a Capital Centre-record 294 penalty minutes in Washington's 5-2 win on Feb. 15. Things deteriorated in the third period again last night, and there were 170 penalty minutes overall, including eight 10-minute misconducts and Al Iafrate's game misconduct.
The Caps led, 3-0, after one period. Both teams started tentatively, but 8 minutes, 9 seconds into the contest, Mikhail Tatarinov's seventh goal put the Capitals ahead for good.
Taking a pass from John Druce, Tatarinov skated laterally to his left across the blue line before blasting a slap shot for a power-play tally that that skipped past Flyers goaltender Ken Wregget. The Caps Dale Hunter battled Jeff Chychrun in front of the crease to screen Wregget's vision.