LANDOVER -- The Washington Capitals' longest winless streak of the season -- five games -- came to an end last night before 17,886 at the Capital Centre.
Dale Hunter's goal at 2:49 of overtime gave the Capitals a 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils and broke a winless streak of five games (0-3-2).
Paul MacDermid took a shot on Chris Terreri that was saved, and the puck bounced to the left corner. Al Iafrate, behind the goal line, centered the puck to Hunter, who put a wrist shot over Terreri's right shoulder for the game-winner.
"There are a lot of bounces in this game, and some go for you and some against," said Hunter. "The puck lay right there on the crease for me, and all I did was put it in. I was in the right place at the right time.
"This was a very big win for us. You have to figure that sometime its [the winless streak] is going to turn around. New Jersey is right behind us, and a loss would have made the race even closer. The win came as the result of a lot of hard work. Both teams worked hard and both were a little tired and there was a lot of clutching and grabbing."
Terreri said: "Well, I really don't know what happened on the game-winner. MacDermid moved in and got off a pretty good shot. I got hit and deflected the puck behind the goal with my stick. Then it was a pass out front from behind the net and I got my stick on it and deflected it right to Hunter, who was at the right goal post.
"We've lost two tough ones now [5-4 to Buffalo Sabres Friday], and in overtime you have to take care of your own end, and we didn't do that tonight."
New Jersey took a 1-0 lead in the first period, but Washington rallied on goals by Dimitri Khristich and Peter Bondra in a 63-second span of the second period to grab a 2-1 lead. Ken Danyeko's first goal of the season, with 18 seconds remaining in the third period, tied the game and forced the overtime.
"This was one of the most important wins of the season for us," said Capitals coach Terry Murray. "We placed a lot of emphasis on this in pre-game planning. A loss would have made it an extremely tight race. But Hunter came through for us. He has always been an overtime player. MacDermid made a great play in keeping the puck in the zone, and Iafrate did a great job behind the goal line. Everything clicked, and if anyone was going to score the game-winner for us, I'm glad it was Hunter. He is a tireless worker.
"Our first two goals were the result of hard work and putting the puck on the goal and going after the rebound. Don Beaupre played another excellent game in the goal."
Devils coach Tom McVie said: "The way we played in the third period I didn't think we'd lose. We seemed to be coming on strong. But in overtime they popped one in and that was that. Who else but Hunter, who is a very hard worker, would do it? We have 13 games left, and if we continue to work hard the way we did tonight, it will pay off for us."
Bondra injured his shoulder in the third period and will be out of PTC action tomorrow against the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden.
New Jersey scored the only goal of the first period when Stephane Richer steamed in from the right boards unguarded and beat Beaupre from the slot with a backhand shot at 17:59.
A pair of goals in a 63-second span in the second period by Khristich and Bondra gave Washington a 2-1 lead. Khristich, scoring his 28th goal of the season, knocked the rebound of his shot past Terreri at 6:51, and Bondra converted the rebound of a shot by Hunter at 7:54.
The lead held until the final seconds of the period, when Daneyko scored on a shot from the left point that Beaupre got his blocking pad on, but the puck bounced off and into the net to the score at 2 with 18 seconds remaining.
NOTES: Wayne Gretzky may not be the only NHL player to own a piece of a Canadian Football League team. Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings is reported interested in buying a share of the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Gretzky ows a portion of the Toronto Argonauts along with Bruce McNall, owner of the Los Angeles Kings. . .. Baltimore Skipjacks broadcasters Kenny Albert and Dave Starman were in Montreal last night to do the radio of the New York Islanders-Canadiens game. . . . The Capitals were without LW Randy Burridge (knee), D Shawn Chambers (knee) and G Mike Liut (back). Washington also scratched C Tim Bergland and LW Todd Krygier. . . . The Devils played without RW Dave Barr (surgery), D Scott Stevens (knee), RW John
MacLean (knee) and C Patrik Sundstrom (thigh).
New Jersey 1 1 0 0 -- 2
Washington 0 2 0 1 -- 3
First period--1, New Jersey, Richer 27 (Todd), 17:59. Penalties--Hatcher, Was (interference), 1:24; Driver, NJ (tripping), 5:17; O'Connor, NJ (holding), 7:06.
Second period--2, Washington, Khristich 28 (Hunter, MacDermid), 6:51. 3, Washington, Bondra 26 (Druce, Cote), 7:54. 4, New Jersey, Daneyko 1 (Lemieux, Zelepukin), 19:42. Penalties--Ciccarelli, Was (high-sticking), :22; Driver, NJ (high-sticking), 3:51; May, Was (high-sticking), 3:51; Ciccarelli, Was (slashing), 4:07; Conacher, NJ (roughing), 11:50; Cote, Was (tripping), 17:40.
Third period--None. Penalties--McKay, NJ, major (fighting), 7:08; May, Was, major (fighting), 7:08.
Overtime--Hunter 23 (Iafrate, MacDermid), 2:49. Penalties--None.
Shots on goal--New Jersey 8-8-9-0--25. Washington 13-15-5-2--35. Power-play opportunities--New Jersey 0 of 4; Washington 0 of 4. Goalies--New Jersey, Terreri, 21-17-8 (35 shots-32 saves). Washington, Beaupre, 24-14-5 (25-23). A--17,886. Referee--Paul Stewart. Linesmen--Jean Morin, Mark Vines.