WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The comeback went for naught, but Washington Capitals coach Terry Murray was not in the mood for complaining last night.
The Capitals allowed the Winnipeg Jets to slip to a 3-0 lead early in the third period before a rousing comeback to tie the game. But 33 seconds after Kelly Miller had tied the score at three with a short-handed goal, the Jets struck for the winner on the same power play. The 4-3 victory extended their NHL-best unbeaten streak to 8-0-2.
"There isn't any team in the league where you can let yourself off the hook mentally," Murray said after his team fell to 20-9-0, still tied for first overall with the Montreal Canadiens. "You have to go with 100 percent intensity and mental preparation every time. In fact, we put a little more emphasis on this one because of Winnipeg being the team they are this year."
The Jets have beaten the Capitals twice in Winnipeg and are but four points behind in the overall standings. Winnipeg, after last night's action, had the fewest losses in the NHL, eight.
The Jets got the winner from defenseman Teppo Numminen, whose power-play point shot may have tipped Kevin Hatcher's stick and went over goalie Mike Liut at 15:17 of a wild third period. The goal came shortly after Miller had tied it while the Capitals were short-handed because of Liut's high-sticking penalty.
Dale Hunter, who scored Saturday's winner in Minnesota in the last minute, and Dmitri Khristich had the other third-period goals, as the Capitals rallied from 3-0.
Stu Barnes scored Winnipeg's third goal, but it should not have counted. He rushed up two-on-one with Paul MacDermid, dipsy-doodled around the slot, then fired a wrist shot past Liut's glove. MacDermid had driven to the net and stopped in Liut's crease before the shot went in, but referee Rob Shick simply didn't see it and he allowed the goal.
Murray said his club objected to the play, but there wasn't much it could do. Crease violations are not among the things that are included in the NHL's new video replay policy this season.
"I asked the question," Murray said. "I thought he was. I sent [Dale] Hunter over to talk to the referee. I thought the skate was in the crease but he [Shick] said absolutely not.
"It's a tough one after you play last night and travel the morning of the game. I was pleased with that third period. We battled back, and even after it was 4-3, we hit the post. Sometimes you get a bounce, sometimes you don't."
Murray said that falling behind was of great concern, even with all the goals his team has scored. Washington leads the NHL with 133 goals.
"You don't want to get down against anybody," he said. "It's tough to battle back."
Pat Elynuik and Mark Osborne had earlier goals for the Jets, who lost goalie Bob Essensa (8-1-2 in his past 11 games) to a hamstring injury in the first period.
Stephane Beauregard came on in his relief to get last night's victory and now will get a chance to show his stuff.
Essensa is expected to be out of action for about a week and Beauregard believes this is his chance.