Miller, Caps slip past Islanders 5-3 victory moves Washington to .500

December 06, 1992|By Mike Tully | Mike Tully,Contributing Writer

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Kelly Miller picked an opportune time to score his 100th goal as a Washington Capital. He converted a crisp passing sequence with 5:21 left in regulation last night, improving the Caps' record to .500 with a 5-3 victory over the New York Islanders.

Kevin Hatcher led the break into the zone and passed to Mike Ridley on the left side. Ridley slid it over to Miller, whose low drive from the lower circle beat goalie Mark Fitzpatrick to the glove side.

Two minutes later, Caps goalie Jim Hrivnak preserved the two points by stopping a drive from David Volek from the left circle. Then, with 7.2 seconds left, Ridley scored into an empty net, clinching a victory that bore little resemblance to Washington's 8-4 blowout of the New York Rangers on Friday night.

Miller's goal was all the more sweet because it came after the Caps had blown a 3-1 lead. Instead of settling for a tie, which would have left them in a three-way deadlock for second place in the Patrick Division, the Caps (13-13-2) took sole possession of second place.

Al Iafrate scored his seventh and eight goals of the season to help the Caps build a 3-1 margin just 21:29 into the game, but Brad Dalgarno got one back just 16 seconds later, and Derek King's power-play score in the third period produced a tie that prevailed for most of the period.

With the Caps leading 3-2 in the third period, Hatcher was called for interfering with King at 1:22. King whipped a 40-footer past Hrivnak.

Both teams had chances to break the tie, but neither could break through until Miller's goal.

The Caps allowed the first goal but managed to build a 3-2 lead through a penalty-filled first 40 minutes. Islanders scoring leader Pierre Turgeon carried down the right side and centered for Claude Loiselle, who scored his fourth goal at 10:48 of the first period.

A subtle pass by Sylvain Cote set up the tying goal at 14:01. Cote received a pass near the blue line, but found his shooting angle blocked. He touched the puck to Iafrate, whose 55-foot blast rang off the post and into the net. It was his seventh goal of the season.

A poor clear by Islanders defenseman Rich Pilon allowed the Caps to take a 2-1 lead on the power play. Pilon seemed to have time for an easy clear, but Pat Elynuik deflected it to Peter Bondra inside the line. Bondra tipped it ahead to Mike Ridley, who deked Fitzpatrick before tucking the puck around him. Ridley's 10th of the year came at 18:47.

A sequence at the end of the first period set up a power play that enabled the Caps to increase their lead to 3-1. Turgeon pushed Kelly Miller into the end boards at 19:53, and they scuffled after the period ended. Islanders wing Steve Thomas joined their discussion, and all three received two minutes for roughing.

When the Caps opened the second period with a man advantage, Iafrate continued his spectacular scoring. He stopped a puck at the line, spinned and fired a 60-footer through a screen. Ridley and Michal Pivonka picked up assists at 1:29.

Just 16 seconds later, however, Dalgarno was left unchecked on a rush, and he drove a wrist shot over Hrivnak from the right circle.

Iafrate assisted on Ridley's empty-net goal, so he had two goals and one assist. That gives him seven goals and eight assists in his past six games.

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