Caps waste 3-goal lead in 5-4 loss

November 19, 1992|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- Washington Capitals coach Terry Murray, who has been nothing but cool-headed through this frustrating season, finally got real angry last night.

He had shaken up his lineup, inserted rookie Reggie Savage in place of veteran Pat Elynuik, in an attempt to jump-start his team that has played from behind most of the NHL season.

That much proved successful, with the Capitals opening a 3-0 lead after one period against the Minnesota North Stars. But then the Caps blew that early bulge before 13,828 frustrated fans at the Capital Centre, losing, 5-4, on a shot by Russ Courtnall with 12.2 seconds to play.

"What can I say after a performance like that?" Murray began in an obscenity-laced tirade. "There is no way I can ever justify that. It's as if we've got players who have never played the damn game.

"Stupid decisions. Stupid goals. [Goalie] Donnie Beaupre hasn't given us a good game but once this season and it's time he woke up and started playing."

The North Stars rallied from a 3-0 deficit to within 3-2, before Savage scored on a penalty shot for a 4-2 advantage.

But then Mike McPhee scored with 13:54 gone in the third and Shane Churla tied things up with 5:18 left. That set the stage for Courtnall and his winning goal.

The Caps seemed inspired during the first period, with Al Iafrate getting his first goal of the season, Paul MacDermid notching his fifth and getting the Caps on the board 1:23 into the game and Dale Hunter scoring on a power play to give the Caps the 3-0 bulge.

When Savage was awarded a rare penalty shot, after being dragged down from behind in front of the Minnesota goal in the second period, and converted for his first NHL goal and a 4-2 advantage, the Caps seemed in control.

"A lot of momentum shifted in the second period," Murray said. "But there's no reason. It was 4-2, the decisions we made in the offensive zone, the third-man decisions, our defensive decisions, getting beat at the offensive blue line for 2-on-1s, that's not knowing how to play the game. . . . We've got guys making terrible decisions right now."

The Caps will practice today in preparation for tomorrow's game here against Detroit. No one, not even Savage, who Murray credited with playing well, is looking forward to it.

Minnesota .0 2 3 -- 5

Washington 3 1 0 -- 4

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