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 Capital Centre's smallest crowd of the season.
"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, and that's the bottom line."
The victory was the second in a row for the Capitals, and it 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, scored the first goal on a rebound and the second on a scramble.
"I just concentrated on putting the puck on the net," he said. "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."
The Capitals scored three power-play goals, two by Ciccarelli, to take a 3-1 lead after two periods. They have 42 goals in 171 extra-man opportunities, the best in the NHL.
"Many coaches don't stress the importance of the power play, but I do," said Murray. "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."
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 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."