LANDOVER -- Better execution and more intensity are two things coach Terry Murray wants from his Washington Capitals when they meet the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the Patrick Division championship series tonight (7:35) at the Capital Centre.
Murray still was bristling at practice yesterday over his team's play in Sunday's 3-1 loss to the Penguins that gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 edge in the Stanley Cup playoff series. Murray said he was upset because he believes his team didn't stick to his game plan and failed to play the tight defensive hockey necessary to contain high-powered Pittsburgh.
"We played well in the first game in Pittsburgh [the Capitals won, 4-2], but we got away from our style of hockey in the next two games [a 7-6 overtime loss and Sunday's loss]," Murray said. "We can't afford to turn the puck over like we did Sunday and get into a transition game with Pittsburgh."
Pittsburgh played without defensemen Paul Coffey (broken jaw), Paul Taglianetti (injured leg) and Ulf Samuelsson (broken hand) and probably will be without them for the remainder of the playoffs.
"We can't afford to think about Pittsburgh's injuries," said Murray. "We have to make up our game plan figuring that the Penguins will be 100 percent for us. Injuries will hurt you in the long run, but in a short series, they have a way of making a
team play better."
Pittsburgh coach Bob Johnson credited the play of two rookie defensemen, Jim Paek and Grant Jennings, with strong efforts in Sunday's win over Washington.
"Paek was playing his first playoff game and Jennings was playing only his second game in the last month," said Johnson. "But both did a great job for us. When you lose three top defensemen, you have to have great goaltending and good defense. We got that Sunday and have to get it again tomorrow [tonight]."
The Capitals yesterday recalled seven more players from the Baltimore Skipjacks to join goalie Jim Hrivnak, who practiced with Washington yesterday.
Defensemen Kent Paynter and Mark Ferner, centers Rob Murray, Alfie Turcotte and Reggie Savage and right wings Steve Seftel and Jeff Greenlaw will join the Capitals today.
"I don't plan any changes," said Murray. "At this point in the season you have to continue to dance with the people who brought you this far. Having the added depth from Baltimore will give us insurance just in case we have any injury problems."
Murray also said that Washington has to get more leadership from its top players.
"Rod Langway has been our leader both on the ice and in the room [dressing room]," Murray said. "He motivates the team. We need more scoring from guys like Dino Ciccarelli, Mike Ridley, John Druce and Michal Pivonka."