Caps nip Senators, 4-3, on Ridley, Iafrate goals Goals in 3rd come 16 seconds apart

December 22, 1992|By Ken Warren | Ken Warren,Contributing Writer

OTTAWA, Ontario -- Every second counts to an expansion franchise.

Such was the lesson the Washington Capitals taught the Ottawa Senators in a 4-3 win last night.

In the blink of an eye, a Capitals deficit became a Senators deficit. Goals by Mike Ridley and Al Iafrate 16 seconds apart midway through the third period made all the difference.

The Capitals played just well enough to win, turning their game up a notch in the third.

"Our power play scored us the big goal [Ridley's], and I think that was the difference," said defenseman Iafrate, who scored for the third consecutive game and has 25 points in his past 14 games.

"They played a defensive game and we couldn't get much going until we got on the power play."

The Senators had led on three occasions and had gone ahead 3-2 on Mike Peluso's goal 1:32 into the period.

But the Capitals turned back the Senators from there with impressive pressure inside the Ottawa zone, in the process quieting the sellout crowd of 10,500 at the Ottawa Civic Centre.

Ridley's goal came after Pat Elyniuk cleared the front of the net for him. Ridley then casually lifted a wrist shot over the left shoulder of Senators goaltender Peter Sidorkiewicz.

On the ensuing faceoff, Iafrate broke from his defensive position and charged to the front of the net, where he took a perfect feed from Dmitri Khristich. Iafrate then slid the puck along the ice past Sidorkiewicz.

The win was only the Capitals' (19-15-2) second in their past three games. They lost to Boston Saturday, 4-3. But last night's win moved them, at least temporarily, into sole possession of second place in the Patrick Division.

The Senators (3-30-3) headed into the third holding a 2-1 lead.

Elyniuk tied the game on a power play a minute into the third, only to have Peluso put the Senators ahead again only 31 seconds later.

Then came the Capitals comeback.

"We played our game plan to a tee, then we got stung by a couple of shifts in the third," said Peluso.

"We were on our heels for about four or five shifts and they took advantage."

The Senators established a 2-1 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the second.

Dave Archibald, all alone in the slot, waited for Capitals goaltender Don Beaupre to go down before shooting over his left shoulder.

It was the lone goal of the middle period, which featured some surprisingly strong penalty killing on the Senators' behalf.

The Capitals got on the board late in the first, tying the game on the power play.

Dmitri Khristich had plenty of time to beat Senators goaltender Sidorkiewicz to the short side.

The Senators, coming off lopsided road losses to the Islanders (9-3) and Toronto (5-1), carried the play to the Capitals early on -- in contrast to when the clubs met here Dec. 7.

Then, the Capitals stormed to an early 4-0 lead.

The Senators dominated early on, and only Beaupre's play prevented a goal in the first three minutes.

But the Senators' Jody Hull did open the scoring at the 5:59 mark, beating Beaupre with a nifty backhand.

"Just because they're an expansion franchise doesn't mean anything. Don [Beaupre] played great and made some big saves for us at times," Iafrate said. "They played with a lot of pride and they shut us down pretty well in the first two periods."

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