LANDOVER -- The Washington Capitals sprinted to a 4-0 lead and then had to hold off a Boston Bruins rally before scoring a 6-3 victory last night at the Capital Centre.
Washington, playing before its third straight home sellout crowd -- 18,130 -- got goals from Tim Bergland, Randy Burridge, Peter Bondra and Michal Pivonka to grab a 4-0 lead at 11 minutes, 42 seconds of the second period.
Boston rallied on goals by Steve Leach, Chris Winnes and Kevin Markwart to cut the lead to 4-3 with 11:57 remaining in the game. The Bruins kept up the pressure on goalie Mike Liut, who won his BTC
ninth game of the season, but could not get the equalizer.
Mike Lalor, however, gave the Capitals a 5-3 lead and some breathing room with 2:37 remaining with a shot from the left point against a screened Bruins goalie Andy Moog (7-7-3), and Bondra scored his second goal of the game and 14th of the season into an empty net during a power play in the last seconds. Bondra has more goals in 20 games than he had all last season.
"Boston, which has a lot of injuries, battled hard and had us worried," said Capitals coach Terry Murray. "We got a big break when Lalor's shot went in the net. Our intensity seemed to go down when we got the big lead and Boston got fired up. That made it a different game. Our defense did a very good job, but we missed Rod Langway [concussion], there is no doubt about that. He is all defense and keeps after the team to maintain its intensity."
The win was the fourth without a loss against Adams Division teams this season, a division against which Washington was 3-11-1 last season. The six goals last night gave the Capitals 107 on the season, the most in the NHL. They have scored five or more goals in 15 of their 21 games.
The victory also gives the Capitals a 7-2 record at the Capital Centre. And their 16 wins are the most in the NHL. Washington leads the Patrick Division by five points over the idle New York Rangers.
"We just kept working," said Burridge, a former Bruin whose seventh goal of the season gave Washington a 2-0 lead at 9:03 of the first period. "We jumped off to a big lead and then we started to relax, to stand around out there. We tried to get too fancy, and Boston came back. But we kept going and got a couple of big goals at the end to win.
"On my goal, I just tried to put the puck on the net. Dale Hunter made a great play in getting me the puck and knew the defense had screened Moog. I tried to put the puck through the skates of the defensemen and it went right in the net."
Liut said: "Boston was making rink-wide passes all night and I had trouble picking up the puck. Whether it's 4-0 or 4-3, I have to play the same way. Getting nervous doesn't help. We seemed to stop skating a little in the second period, but we played well defensively in the third period."
"Washington is a very responsible hockey team," said Leach, a ** former Capital. "They pride themselves on defense and believe that's the key to winning. They got some good bounces. The Capitals capitalized on our standing around early and got the big lead. We regrouped and came back, but not all the way back."
Bergland, who got the Capitals off and running with his first goal of the season at 5:15 of the first period, said: "It's always nice to get off to a good start. I was crashing the net and Alan May, who was behind the goal, made a good play of getting the puck out front. I just beat the defenseman [Bob Sweeney] to the puck."
Bondra, on an assist from Pivonka, gave Washington a 3-0 lead at the end of the first period. Pivonka scored the game-winning goal midway through the second period, knocking the rebound of a shot by Dmitri Khristich past Moog from just off the crease. Pivonka has scored nine points in his last three games.