Caps know when they're welcome, take advantage of Whalers, 6-2

November 08, 1992|By Paul Doyle | Paul Doyle,Contributing Writer

HARTFORD, Conn. -- After managing only a tie against the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday, the Washington Capitals faced the worst non-expansion team in the NHL last night.

Yet it took two goals by defenseman Sylvain Cote -- a former Hartford player -- and some shaky goaltending by Hartford's Frank Pietrangelo for the Capitals to escape with a 6-2 victory before 9,442 at the Civic Center.

Washington (6-8-1) got two goals in last two minutes. The Capitals outshot Hartford 33-32, but were often outplayed. They took advantage of poor play by Pietrangelo (four goals in 20 shots).

"You never know what is going to happen," Capitals coach Terry Murray said. "It's something we've been talking about probably since the fourth game -- just to get more pucks in the net. Hey, throw the puck in and see what happens."

Hartford (3-10-1) outplayed Washington for most of the second-half of the game -- especially after goalie Sean Burke replaced Pietrangelo with 5:34 left in the second period. Kevin Hatcher (fifth), Mike Ridley (fifth) and Alan May (second) also scored for Washington. Cote, acquired for a 1992 second-round draft choice Sept. 8, 1991, scored his third and fourth goals.

"A hat trick would have been really nice, like a moment to remember in my career . . . especially here. It's nice to score here [against the Whalers]. And it's nice to win. The team was struggling, but we're starting to play well."

The Capitals led 4-1 after two periods, but Hartford surged in the third period. After the Whalers killed a penalty, they went on the power play when Bob Carpenter was called by hooking. Washington killed the penalty, although Hartford put pressure on goalie Jim Hrivnak. Nine seconds after the penalty was up, the Whalers scored. After Hrivnak made a save, the puck slid through a crowd in the goal mouth. Hartford rookie left wing Patrick Poulin sent a wrist shot past Hrivnak.

With 1:55 left, May tipped a pass from Ridley past Burke. The assist was Ridley's 300th career assist. Just more than a minute later, Kelly Miller scored off a pass from Todd Krygier. Ridley also assisted.

Washington set the tempo in the first period, taking a 2-0 lead and outplaying Hartford.

After killing a penalty early, Washington took the lead. Cote scored when his wrist shot beat Pietrangelo 5:47 into the period.

Washington continued to control, although Hrivnak did make a kick save on Hartford's Robert Petrovicky on an open shot from the slot.

With 6:54 left in the period, Hatcher gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead. He took a pass from Steve Konowalchuk along the boards, turned and fired a slap shot into the upper right corner.

"I was surprised we came out strong, especially after traveling [Friday night from Tampa]," Ridley said. "But we had a good first period. The last couple of games we're starting off pretty good. We had some lapses tonight, but at least we had that lead."

Washington held Hartford to one shot on a power play late in the period, then pressured when Whalers defenseman Steve Konroyd was called for tripping. But Pietrangelo came up with a kick save on a Hatcher slap shot from the right circle -- Washington's best chance.

The Capitals held a 13-7 shot advantage in the period.

Hartford started the second period strong and out-skated the Capitals during the first five minutes. The Whalers had five clear shots early in the period, but Hrivnak was solid.

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