LANDOVER -- Kevin Stevens' goal midway through the third period broke a tie and propelled the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-1 victory last night over the Washington Capitals before 17,867 at the Capital Centre.
The victory gives the Penguins a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Patrick Division playoff series, as the action moves to the Pittsburgh Civic Arena tomorrow for game No. 5.
Stevens, scoring his seventh goal of the playoffs, got the puck from Mark Recchi in the right corner. He bulled his way past Rod Langway into the slot and beat goalie Don Beaupre with a shot that caromed off the far post and into the net.
"Recchi made the play in getting me the puck," Stevens said. "I just took off for the goal and was able to get the puck past Beaupre. "We feel good right now. We're on top of our game. We played patient hockey and the opportunities came. It was a great effort from 20 guys. We are very happy to be going home with a two-game edge and we feel confident," said Stevens.
"Washington got a lot of chances but Tommy [Barrasso] was there to stop them."
Phil Bourque added an empty-net goal with 32 seconds remaining to close out the scoring.
"Stevens is potentially one of the outstanding left wingers in the National Hockey League," said Pittsburgh coach Bob Johnson. "He's big, strong and he can skate. He changes pace as well as
The Capitals dominated the game but could get only one goal past Barrasso, outstanding for the second game in a row. Washington outshot Pittsburgh, 39-19, but Barrasso was always there to make the key save. He finished with 38 saves.
"My concentration was good," said Barrasso. "The Capitals had a lot of shots on goal, but my defense helped me clearing out the zone. Our defense took Washington's forechecking away from them. We did what we had to do to win. We won two games in this building, and now we're going home."
"We deserved a better fate," said Capitals left wing Alan May. "We had the opportunities, but Barrasso was great. He dominated the game. He is one of the top goalies in the league and we knewwhat to expect, but we couldn't beat him.
"We followed our game plan to a T. We cut down on their shots, played a tight defensive game and cut down on our turnovers. Sometimes you can work hard the entire game, give 100 percent, but you just don't get the bounces."
Mario Lemieux assisted on two Penguins scores. Recchi also had two assists and Stevens had an assist.
Tim Bergland gave Washington a 1-0 lead in the first period, jamming the rebound of shot by Dino Ciccarelli past Barrasso.
Pittsburgh tied the score on Recchi's goal during a power play at 18:01 of the first period.
"We did everything we wanted to do but score goals," said Capitals coach Terry Murray. "That's the kind of hockey game we have to play to beat the Penguins. We dominated in every category of the game. The puck just wouldn't go in for us. I guess you have to give some of the credit to Barrasso because he came up real big at crucial times.
"Stevens made an all-star play off the boards," said Murray. "That's as strong a play as you're going to see in that situation."
Barrasso kept the game tied by making a sliding stick save on Ciccarelli, who was on a breakaway, in the last minute of play.
Barrasso was outstanding in the scoreless second period. He stopped 12 Capitals shots with an array of moves that bordered on the acrobatic. He also had some help from the goal posts as Washington hit the pipe three times with shots in the middle period.
NOTES: The Penguins again played without D Paul Coffey (jaw), Ulf Samuelsson (hand) and Peter Taglianetti (leg) . . . . The Capitals scratched LW Nick Kypreos and D Neil Sheehy and all of the players recalled from the Baltimore Skipjacks . . . . Four former Skipjacks play for the Penguins, LW Bob Errey, D Randy Hillier, LW Troy Loney and LW Phil Bourque.