Capitals win league-best 23rd, 3-1 Ciccarelli scores twice vs. Nordiques

December 18, 1991|By James H. Jackson | James H. Jackson,Sun Staff Correspondent

LANDOVER -- It wasn't very artistic or impressive. However, it was a victory and the Washington Capitals were pleased to get it.

Dino Ciccarelli scored two goals and Randy Burridge had a pair of assists to lead the Capitals to a 3-1 victory last night over the Quebec Nordiques before 13,927, the smallest crowd of the season at the Capital Centre.

"It was a good win for us," said Capitals coach Terry Murray. "Quebec is a much improved team. We got a big performance from our Hunter line [Ciccarelli, Burridge and Dale Hunter], and Donnie Beaupre played a fine game in the goal. The win may not have been pretty, but it gives us two points just like any other kind of win and that's the bottom line."

The victory was the second in a row for the Capitals and gave them a 10-4 home record. It was also the 23rd win of the season, the most in the NHL, and enabled them to increase their Patrick Division lead to five points over the idle New York Rangers.

Ciccarelli, who has 19 goals, said: "I scored the first goal on a rebound and the second came on a scramble.

I just concentrated on putting the puck on the net. We have to stay consistent. I can't say we were flat early on because we had too many scoring opportunities for that. We didn't force things. We are confident that we can score at any time, especially on the power play, which came through for us tonight."

Washington has 46 points, tying it for the league lead with the Montreal Canadiens. The Capitals have 150 goals, the most in the league. The loss was the 20th for Quebec, which is in last place in the Adams Division.

Hunter scored Washington's other goal, which was the game-winner. Beaupre was outstanding in the goal, making 23 saves and raising his record to 11-5-0.

"Quebec tested me fairly well," said Beaupre. "After they scored [a goal by Mats Sundin], we came back quickly. Terry [Murray] told us before the game that it is often the case that the games you are supposed to win are the toughest to win. Tonight was one of those games. But our power play came through for us and our defense shut Quebec down."

The Capitals scored three power-play goals and have 42 goals in 171 extra-man opportunities, the best in the NHL.

"Many coaches don't stress the importance of the power play," said Murray, "but I do. We spend a lot of time in practice preparing for the power play and this has paid off for us. It was a feel-'em-out game early and we were a little tentative. We talked about it between periods, and the first power-play goal seemed to wake us up."

Nick Kypreos said: "Our power play was the difference. This year we are winning this type of game. Last year it probably would have gone in the loss column."

Pierre Page, the Nordiques coach, said: "It was all downhill after Sundin's goal. We played hard and had a lot of chances and Washington scored cheap goals. They scored on a 15-footer. How can that be a goal? The penalties we took were the turning point."

Owen Nolan said: "We are not the best penalty killers in the league and Washington is the best on the power play. That hurt us, but I don't want to use it as an excuse. We had our chances, but couldn't score. If you are going to win games, you have to bury your chances."

Washington outshot the Nordiques, 8-7, in the yawn-provoking first period. The last time the Capitals played a scoreless first period was Nov. 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Washington won, 4-0.

Three power-play goals, two by Ciccarelli, gave the Capitals a 3-1 lead at the end of two periods.

NOTES: D Rod Langway, who broke 2 toes on his right foot in a game in Philadelphia Dec. 5, skated at practice and hopes to back in action by Friday night's game with the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Capital Centre. . . . The Capitals yesterday reassigned LW Dave Morissette, who had no points in 2 games with the AHL Baltimore Skipjacks to the ECHL Hampton Roads Admirals and recalled C Victor Gervais, who had 12 goals and 27 assists in 24 games with Hampton Roads and assigned him to the Skipjacks. Gervais, who will join the Skipjacks in time for Friday's game against the Hershey Bears at the Baltimore Arena, was the third-leading scorer in the ECHL. . . . The Stanley Cup playoffs will begin April 8 and could finish as late as June 4. The Campbell Conference will start, and the Wales Conference will begin April 9. Both conferences will play every other day. The final round will begin May 22.

Quebec 0 1 0 -- 1

Washington 0 3 0 -- 3

First period--None. Penalties--Sakic, Que (hooking), 4:54; Johansson, Was (hooking), 10:14; Twist, Que, major (fighting), 15:47; May, Was, minor-major (instigator, fighting), 15:47.

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