For Caps, it's rally or take a vacation

April 09, 1991|By James H. Jackson

The Washington Capitals are back in a familiar situation. They are down 2-1 in the first round of the playoffs, they have to win tonight at the Capital Centre against the New York Rangers, or they could face an early vacation.

The Capitals were six points out of fourth place in early February and rallied to finish third in the Patrick Division and make the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season.

The Rangers-Capitals series has been a strange one. New York won the first game, 2-1, and the Capitals, behind goalie Don Beaupre, won the second, 3-0, at Madison Square Garden, wresting the home-ice advantage from the Rangers. New York routed the Capitals, 6-0, Sunday behind goalie Mike Richter and recaptured the home-ice advantage.

"We lost Sunday's game because we didn't take advantage of our power-play opportunities [four] in the first period," Murray said. "We can't afford not to take advantage of our opportunities. Every game in this series has been decided by the one goal."

And one goal is all the Capitals have scored in 19 power-play opportunities.

"Our penalty-killers played great. We weathered the storm, and then we had our chances," the Rangers' Bernie Nicholls said. "Now, we have to do the same thing on Tuesday."

The Rangers don't expect another rout either.

"They play a tight-checking play, and I'm sure they'll get right back to that the next game," New York coach Roger Neilson said. "I think we got the one blowout out of the way, and we'll be going right back to another of those two-goal games."

Murray said he may make a couple of changes in the lineup for tonight.

"Steve Leach didn't play the last two games, and Mike Lalor, who played really well in our first two games, sat out Sunday. I may try to get them back in the game," he said.

Michal Pivonka, who took a high stick in the mouth and returned to action after dental first aid, is questionable.

"Pivonka had about eight teeth broken off in the front of his mouth," Murray said.

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