Caps turn on power, win, 5-2 Flyers beaten in opening game

October 05, 1991|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Correspondent

LANDOVER -- Not even the absence of left wing Kelly Miller and No. 1 goaltender Don Beaupre could ruin opening night for the Washington Capitals last night.

Miller and Beaupre are out in contract disputes, but the Capitals had more than enough scoring and goaltending to turn back the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-2, before 17,113 at the Capital Centre.

There was a little magic from Dino Ciccarelli, who scored the third and deciding goal, two goals by Peter Bondra, three assists by Dale Hunter and 24 saves by goaltender Mike Liut.

Even newcomers Sylvain Cote (one goal) and Randy Burridge (one assist) got into the act on a night that left Capitals coach Terry Murray smiling.

"Miller and Beaupre are good hockey players but we have to be able to handle adversity like this," said Murray. "We have some new guys like Cote and Burridge who want to do well in the National Hockey League. They have a good attitude and it can really do good things for the team."

Ciccarelli gave Washington a 3-2 lead 16 minutes, 34 seconds into the second period when he was in the right place at the right time on a rebound of a Burridge shot.

Burridge sent a backhand shot so hard at Philadelphia goaltender Ron Hextall that the puck bounced off him and skidded around the ice for what seemed an eternity.

Ciccarelli was hanging around the crease and nudged the puck just barely across the line into the net.

Philadelphia called for an instant replay (which has been added in the NHL this season) of the Ciccarelli goal, but the call was upheld by the officials.

"I guess the Flyers thought Ciccarelli was flying through the crease on the play," said Murray. "That's the only reason I can think of for the call for a replay. I'm not sure but I think that's what happened."

Murray said he likes the idea of the instant replay even though he knows it will go against his team some nights before the 80-game season is over.

"There are too many games that are decided on disputed plays," said Murray. "This will prevent that."

After Ciccarelli sent Washington ahead, the Capitals looked as if they were going to sit on the one-goal lead the rest of the night.

But the home team scored two goals in the final three minutes to make the game look like a blowout.

Bondra and Dimitri Khristich scored the final two goals for Washington.

The five goals made the all the preseason talk by Washington about scoring more this season look good.

But Philaelphia right wing Rick Tocchet, who was shut out last night, said the Capitals looked like the same team he has been watching for the past several years.

"Their best players are their defensemen," said Tocchet. "It's a simple game plan and they work hard. Also the bounces seemed like they went Washington's way."

Murray said it was more than some bounces going his team's way.

"This is an impressive win when you're going against your biggest rival," said Murray. "We played well on our power play even though we didn't score a lot (1-for-9). Mike Liut came in and did a super job in the net. There was no doubt in my mind he would do that. He's been in the league 15 years and knows what to do."

Murray said he is prepared to go with Liut and Jim Hrivnak for as long as it takes Beaupre to settle his contract differences.

"Jimmy Hrivnak has worked hard enough to get a chance in the goal," said Murray. "And I'm going to use him along with Mike Liut."

Capitals tonight


Opponent: Buffalo Sabres

Site: Capital Centre, Landover, 7:35


Radio: WCAO (600 AM), WMAL (630 AM)

Outlook: This is the second game of a weekend series at home that opens the season for the Capitals. Last night against the Flyers, the Capitals were without LW Kelly Miller, who told GM David Poile Thursday that he would not be in uniform because his contract expectations haven't been met. Miller joins G Don Beaupre, both on their option years. Beaupre left training camp Sept. 18.

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