Capitals dodge Lightning, 5-3 Cote snaps 3-3 tie with late goal

January 18, 1993|By Tim Hipps | Tim Hipps,Contributing Writer

TAMPA, Fla. -- Sylvain Cote scored on a shot past downed Tampa Bay goalie J. C. Bergeron at 17:11 of the third period last night, and Kelly Miller added an empty-net goal as the Washington Capitals held on for a hard-earned, 5-3 victory over the expansion Lightning before a sellout crowd of 10,425 at Expo Hall.

"I saw Cote alone in the slot and Kelly was covered," said Capitals right wing Pat Elynuik, who shared the game-winning assist with center Mike Ridley. "I fed him and he one-timed it past Bergeron. All I had to do was get it to him."

And all the Caps had to do was hang on for their second consecutive victory on the third stop of a four-game road swing that concludes Thursday night in Chicago.

Washington improved to 24-18-4, including an NHL-best 13-12-1 road record.

"We've played well on the road over the years," Capitals coach Terry Murray said. "You just attribute that to keeping the game simple. You don't have to put on a show on the road."

Tampa Bay, which is only two games removed from a disheartening, nine-city, 25-day road trip, dropped to 15-30-2.

Miller tacked on the insurance goal at 19:53 on an assist from Dale Hunter, his second of the game.

"There was a lot of intensity, a lot of hard work right from the start of the game," Murray said. "The mental approach we came in with was that it wasn't going to be anything but a hard-fought battle here tonight."

Don Beaupre was back in goal for the Capitals in his second game since missing three outings with a pulled groin muscle. He made 28 saves in his second straight victory, but said he's still not 100 percent.

"It tightened up a little tonight," Beaupre said. "I know it's there, but it doesn't bother me too much."

Washington took a 3-2 lead on Elynuik's 12th goal at 3:54 of the third period, and Tampa Bay tied it at 3 on a goal by Rob DiMaio at 7:14 of the third. The Caps also killed off a five-on-three power play.

The Capitals struck quickly in the second period to take a 2-1 lead. Ridley scored at 3:52 off a crossing pass from Elynuik, and a little more than a minute later, Paul MacDermid scored off assists by Hunter and Kevin Hatcher.

Tampa Bay got even with just 53.4 seconds left in the period when Danton Cole made a steal and beat Beaupre on a breakaway. It was only the fourth short-handed goal allowed by the Capitals this season.

In the first period, Tampa Bay's John Tucker got the puck all alone in the slot, caught Beaupre leaning the wrong way and fired a 20-foot shot past him for a 1-0 lead.

Center Brian Bradley, Tampa Bay's lone All-Star representative, picked up his 26th assist.

Tucker's goal, his ninth, was the only score of a crisply played and exceptionally physical first period.

"You just had to stand there and enjoy that first period," Tampa Bay coach Terry Crisp said. "It's as good a hockey as you're going to see."

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