LANDOVER -- The scoring and play-making of Mario Lemieux and the goaltending of Tom Barrasso were more than the Washington Capitals could handle last night.
Lemieux scored a goal and assisted on another, and Barrasso made 26 saves, to propel the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-1 victory over the Capitals in the Stanley Cup playoffs before a sellout of 18,130 at the Capital Centre.
The victory gives the Penguins a 2-1 lead in the Patrick Division finals. Game 4 will be tomorrow night at the Capital Centre.
"In the past month and a half, this was one of our weaker efforts," Capitals coach Terry Murray said. "We know we can't beat Pittsburgh offensively. We have to keep their shots down, keep the score down. It's the only way we can give ourselves a chance."
Lemieux scored Pittsburgh's first goal, on a shot from the slot that was just out of goalie Don Beaupre's reach, and assisted on Kevin Stevens' game-winner with a cross-slot pass in the second period. Lemieux has five goals and nine assists in 10 playoff games after missing most of the regular season with back problems.
"We knew that we were missing a few key players [defensemen Paul Coffey, who has a broken jaw; Paul Taglianetti, who has an injured leg; and Ulf Samuelsson, who has a broken hand] in our lineup . . . and everybody regrouped and we played much better as a team, especially defensively," Lemieux said. "We didn't get that many chances offensively [22 shots on goal], but we made them count."
Barrasso, back in action after missing four games with a shoulder separation, gave up a power-play goal to Dino Ciccarelli in the first period, then frustrated the Capitals the rest of the game. He continually made key saves, especially in the third period.
"My guys did a great job of getting rid of the rebounds when I left them and a great job of cleaning up our zone," Barrasso said. "Any time we play that kind of defense, we have a real good shot at winning because we have so much firepower up front."
Bryan Trottier scored the final Pittsburgh goal late in the second period.
"I don't know if it was overconfidence," said Ciccarelli. "Home ice was on our side, and the pressure was on us. We just weren't ready and we turned the puck over, and Pittsburgh turned the turnovers into goals."
The Capitals had several excellent scoring opportunities in the third period. Kevin Hatcher missed an open net midway through the period during a power play. Barrasso made two big stops on Mike Ridley, on a wraparound effort, and on a point-blank shot by Dimitri Khristich.
Washington removed Beaupre with 46 seconds remaining in favor of a sixth attacker, but the Capitals did not score.
"It's frustrating," said Beaupre. "We wanted a tighter-checking, lower-scoring game [than Friday's 7-6 overtime loss in Pittsburgh], and that's what we got. We made a couple of mistakes, and the Penguins capitalized on them. We just couldn't seem to get anything going ourselves."
Penguins coach Bob Johnson said: "When you lose three top defensemen like we did, you know you have to have good goaltending and good back-checking. I think the team rallied around that."
The Penguins and Capitals traded first-period goals. Lemieux gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at 4:53 when he scored on a shot from between the hash marks that beat Beaupre, low and to the stick side.
Pittsburgh 1 .. 2 .. 0 -- 3
Washington 1 .. 0 .. 0 -- 1
First period--1, Pittsburgh, Lemieux 5 (Recchi, Murphy), 4:53. 2, Washington, Ciccarelli 5 (Hunter, Pivonka), 8:25 (pp). Penalties--Francis, Pit (roughing), 1:26; Hillier, Pit (roughing), 1:26; Tippett, Was (roughing), 1:26; Hunter, Was, double minor (roughing), 1:26; Murphy, Pit (holding), 2:37; Errey, Pit (roughing), 7:20; Hillier, Pit (holding), 14:32; Iafrate, Was (high-sticking), 17:28.
Second period--3, Pittsburgh, Stevens 6 (Lemieux, Barrasso), 9:30. 4, Pittsburgh, Trottier 1 (Murphy, Jagr), 15:32. Penalties--Iafrate, Was (roughing), 1:17; Khristich, Was (kneeing), 4:25; Stanton, Pit (interference), 6:53; Jennings, Pit (roughing), 8:25; Ridley, Was (roughing), 8:25; Hillier, Pit (tripping), 19:50.
Third period--None. Penalty--Stanton, Pit (holding), 14:03.
Shots on goal--Pittsburgh 11-8-3--22. Washington 6-11-10--27. Power-play opportunities--Pittsburgh 0 of 4; Washington 1 of 6. Goalies--Pittsburgh, Barrasso, 3-3 (27 shots-26 saves). Washington, Beaupre, 5-3 (22-19). A--18,130. Referee--Don Koharski. Linesmen--Swede Knox, Gerard Gauthier.