Bad start, bad finish for Capitals Hrivnak is pulled in 3-0 loss to Devils

November 14, 1992|By Richard Finn | Richard Finn,Contributing Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The game was over before it was nine minutes old.

Staggered when goaltender Jim Hrivnak surrendered three goals in the game's opening eight minutes, the Washington Capitals never got back into the game and lost, 3-0, last night to the New Jersey Devils at the Meadowlands Arena.

"That's the whole game right there," Mike Ridley said of the Capitals' appalling start, which sealed the end of team's four-game unbeaten streak. "We were never out of it mentally, but it's pretty tough being down 3-0. I didn't see us really get it going. There were a couple of flurries here and there."

When the Capitals pressed, Devils goalie Craig Billington was up to the task. He kicked, gloved and knocked down 32 shots to turn in his third career shutout, the first suffered by the Capitals this season.

"We started off behind the 8-ball and we tried hard, but we couldn't get it past Billington," said Capitals coach Terry Murray.

Billington ensured his shutout by coming up with big saves against Kelly Miller, Kevin Hatcher and Al Iafrate in the final period. Hatcher hit the post with a blast in the final three minutes.

Hrivnak offered no excuses for his sloppy effort, which stalled the team's hopes of reaching the .500 mark for the first time since splitting the season's first two games.

"I was just terrible," said Hrivnak, who was lifted after the first period and replaced by Don Beaupre.

The Friday the 13th horror show for Hrivnak went like this:

Just 17 seconds into the game, Hrivnak misplayed Randy hTC McKay's harmless-looking shot into a 1-0 Devils lead. Shooting straight on the goaltender from about 20 feet out, McKay wristed the puck and Hrivnak let it carom off his right pad and through his legs.

It became 2-0 on Hrivnak's next mistake with only 2:13 gone when he was frozen on Bobby Holik's innocent-looking shot from just inside the blue line. It appeared that Holik's shot caught the inside of a Capitals defenseman's leg and went past a transfixed Hrivnak.

"I lost sight of it," said Hrivnak. "That was a fluke."

The third goal wasn't solely Hrivnak's fault. Defenseman Paul Cavallini allowed Holik to wheel out from behind the net and flick a perfect cross-ice pass to a wide-open Bruce Driver, who scored with 8:02 gone.

"It's a long season and I'm sure this kind of game has happened to all goaltenders," said Hrivnak. "You have to forget it and hope that things work out the way it did before."

Beaupre's return was encouraging. He played well after sitting out the last four games with a stomach muscle injury.

Beaupre looked sharp in the second period, especially on a nice glove save as he stood his ground against the hard-charging Claude Lemieux.

"It was good to see him back in the lineup," said Murray of his top goalie, who turned away 17 shots.

Murray would offer no clue as to whom he would start in tonight's rematch at the Capital Centre.

It was the second consecutive game Hrivnak has had first-period troubles. In Wednesday's 7-4 win against the Rangers, he yielded four goals on six shots before being perfect the rest of the way.

This time he didn't stay around long enough to get another opportunity to find his form.

* NOTES: The teams complete the home-and-home series tonight at the Capital Centre. The Capitals play at home next week against Minnesota and Detroit.

Washington 0 0 0 -- 0

New Jersey 3 0 0 -- 3

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