LANDOVER -- A parallel could be drawn between the common cold and many of the goals Dino Ciccarelli has rung up during his illustrious career as scorer and pest: He knows where most came from while some he just picked up in a crowd.
Last night, for instance, the formerly slump-ridden winger scored twice, first to tie the game, then to win it as the Washington Capitals were outlasting the St. Louis Blues, 6-4.
"Typical Dino goals," was the description heard most often in the Washington locker room afterward. In other words (and sounds), biff, bang, sock -- Ciccarelli's flat on his back and the crowd is roaring.
Chances are he has seen only a small percentage of his scores, but he's learned to be content hearing them.
Pressed for a one-word description of this third and final meeting between the teams, swashbuckling seems appropriate. Good thing goal-a-game scorer Brett Hull wasn't with the Blues due to spasms in his back. All the king's horses couldn't have kept him from going over the boards to join in the assault his mates were staging.
This late in the season, we've heard innumerable times how "Donnie Beaupre came up big" in the Caps' goal from Terry Murray. The coach wasn't so obvious last night. In one 40-second stretch during a St. Louis power play in the third period with Washington protecting a 5-4 lead, Beaupre faced the fury of four excellent shots on goal. He had to be thinking someone had slipped another puck out on the ice.
"I was kind of fortunate," the goalie admitted. "The shots were coming so fast, all I could do is try to knock them down, not direct them anywhere. Lucky none of them went in."
None in the third period, that is. Earlier, the Blues had led 1-0 and 3-2 as the Capitals defensemen apparently assumed they could take it easy with no Hull taking a regular shift.
Beaupre knew better. "They've got some guys who can go," he noted.
Craig Janney, who had two goals, is one, the ex-Boston Bruin dispatching seven shots Beaupre's way. Ex-Cap Dave Christian and defenseman Jeff Brown are a couple more; they were credited with five shots apiece. St. Louis had 38 shots in all, which sounds substantial until you remember how many shots on goal the Blues had Feb. 27 when the teams last met: 54.
Indication that the game might be slightly out of the ordinary showed up early when, with his team leading by a goal, St. Louis goalie Pat Jablonski ventured nearly to the blue line in a mad -- for the puck against Washington winger Todd Krygier. The guy with the least equipment won easily and whipped the tying marker by a defenseman who had assumed position in goal but wanted no part of the lightning shot.
Ciccarelli's first goal tying it at 3-3 saw him get free with the puck behind the goal before proceeding to the baseline for a backhand attempt. "I don't know how it got by him [Jablonski]," Ciccarelli said, because he was quickly covered over by Blues.
The winning fifth goal was equally chaotic. "No pretty slap shots for me," Ciccarelli said proudly. "[Mike] Ridley had it out by the blue line," he said in play-by-play fashion, "and got it to [Dimitri] Khristich crossing. I went for the slot and he got it to me. But I didn't have it real good.
"Ridley was yelling at me I had time, I had time, so I looked down to get better control. You do that and you know you're going to end up on your ---."
Having been there maybe a million times before, Ciccarelli got just enough of the puck to get it in the St. Louis goal before the boom was lowered on him. All in a night's work.
"The goal Sunday was a relief," said Dino, alluding to his first score in 10 games. "These two tonight might mean I've got something going. This was not a typical game for us and I'll bet both coaches are still shaking their heads. But it was a great game to watch, wasn't it?"
Unfortunately for Ciccarelli, the way he gets hit around he doesn't get to see the action very often.