Caps' 9-2 romp includes another 3rd-period flurry Devils well-beaten before 4-goal burst

January 02, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- The Washington Capitals have this third-period goal-scoring routine down pretty good. For the third consecutive game, they blistered the opposing team's net.

But yesterday afternoon, for the first time in four games, the Capitals did not have to depend on a frantic third-period rally.

Washington beat the New Jersey Devils, 9-2, thrilling a crowd of 15,881 at the Capital Centre with a new way of winning in the new year.

It was the first time New Jersey had allowed nine goals since Dec. 13, 1990, against Pittsburgh and the first time Washington has produced that many since a 10-4 victory against Quebec on Nov. 10, 1991.

The Capitals blazed their way to a 4-0 lead with goals by Al Iafrate, Dale Hunter, Alan May and Mike Ridley, and went to the locker room with a 4-1 lead after the first period.

"From the first minute of the game they were all over us," said New Jersey's Stephane Richer. "Their goalie, [Don] Beaupre, made key saves at the right time. Their power-play unit is really working. Hey, they beat the Rangers the other night, and they have a lot of confidence right now."

The Capitals, who rallied for a win and a tie in the third period of their past two games, weren't perfect. "We had plenty of chances," said Richer.

The Capitals left Beaupre to make 32 saves, many of them memorable, as his team allowed a number of odd-man breakaways. But Washington's stopper had the luxury of an early lead for the first time since the 4-3 victory in Ottawa on Dec. 21.

Beaupre and the Capitals will have the chance to do it all again here today at 12:10 p.m. against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The victory brings the Capitals' record to 21-16-3 and to .500 in the Patrick Division after a 2-7 start. The win also increases their point margin over the New York Rangers to three (45-42) in the race for second place in the division.

But the joy over extending their home unbeaten streak to seven was tempered by the thought of Chicago, the Norris Division leader.

"It's going to be a little tougher against Chicago," said center Mike Ridley, who scored a short-handed goal with 11:55 gone in the first period.

"We were collectively ready to play this game from the beginning to the end without letting up," Ridley said. "But New Jersey didn't play very well, and Chicago is going to be a completely different game. They're in first place, and you're not going to run into two teams having bad nights back-to-back. Hopefully, we will work it out."

Capitals coach Terry Murray told his team before the game that the emphasis was on "getting a good jump, good tempo and good intensity." Instead of a good jump, Iafrate was called for slashing 31 seconds into the game.

But the Capitals killed the penalty, and Iafrate caught New Jersey on a line change as he was coming out of the box and had plenty of time to accept a pass from Sylvain Cote and set up just inside the blue line for Washington's first score.

Hunter, who needs one point to reach 800, then came up with one of his three points of the night. He scored on a power play opportunity with 4:14 gone. A little less than two minutes later, May scored the first of his two goals.

"I usually have a two-goal game every season," said May, who had two goals in 39 games before yesterday. "The trouble is that after I have it, I usually go another two months before I get another one."

Beaupre, who was blocking everything in sight, allowed two goals, one in the first period by Alexander Semak and another by Scott Niedermayer on a power play with 12:49 to go in the third.

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