Both teams sure had their shots as Capitals outslug Penguins

January 27, 1992|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,Sun Staff Correspondent

LANDOVER -- Forty shots. Not both teams combined; each team. A slap shot festival. Short course speedskating at its best.

"An interesting game from all aspects," Washington Capitals coach Terry Murray said of the 6-4 fast-forward game with Pittsburgh.

Across the way, Penguins coach Scotty Bowman said, "Balder--," or words to that effect.

A short pause while you figure out which team won.

Winning Caps goalie Don Beaupre acted as if 40 shots get hammered his way every day. "Maybe the fact I felt good and sharp right from the start has something to do with it," he said.

A quick lead didn't hurt either, Dino Ciccarelli's 24th and 25th goals giving the Capitals a 2-0 start in the first 12 minutes.

That was the first segment of the game. The second portion saw momentum do a 180-degree turn as the Penguins scored four of the next five goals and, with less than two minutes remaining in the second period, assume a 4-3 advantage.

Clearly, it was their type of game: Damn the defense; skate, don't wait.

"Against them," Beaupre said, "we know we're going to get chances. If you can't hold them off early, you'll be all right. We didn't try to push it. We were patient."

Late in the middle session, Randy Burridge made it 4-4, Ciccarelli getting his fingerprints all over this goal, too. He first drew a penalty, taking one of the great dives of all time (receiving a score of 9.95) after a simple shove from an irate Penguin. Then Dino assisted on the goal.

"The bottom line," said Murray, "was how we played after getting back to 4-4. It was a roller coaster to that point, then we played great two-way hockey."

It was the first time all afternoon either team even considered attempting to stop the other guy. It's as if the players thought they might be whistled for a penalty by referee Ron Hoggarth if he caught them playing defense.

A penalty early -- a biggie, Todd Krygier getting a major for checking from behind, plus a misconduct, plus a game misconduct and ejection -- was instrumental in the Caps scoring the winning goal.

John Druce, who has been struggling for more than a year, took Krygier's spot on the line with Dale Hunter and Ciccarelli off his solid work in practice, according to the coach.

"They're my kind of players," said Druce, noting how he likes to scramble in the corners, wrestle behind the net and play king of the hill in front of the net just like the veterans.

Druce's eighth goal came on a nifty feed from Hunter and it took a double-jointed effort by him to even get wood on the puck.

Pitt, with its full-time five attacking forwards constantly buzzing Beaupre, lost all hope with a minute remaining when Kelly Miller scored his ninth goal.

Mario Lemieux was mildly accosted out near mid-ice and was unceremoniously dumped on his britches as Mike Ridley sped away, finally getting the puck to Miller for the score. Lemieux was fit to be tied or, better, tied, gagged and banished.

"It was a good game until the ref got into it," he said of Hoggarth's no-call. "It was a disgrace. Sometimes they wonder why they have problems getting national TV exposure. It's because of guys like that."

Mario and his linemates, Kevin Stevens and Jaromir Jagr, combined for five misconduct penalties. Maybe there was some frustration involved. Between them, they came into the game with 86 goals and departed with just 87.

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