Blackhawks score last four to stop sloppy Capitals Belfour's 34 saves pace 6-2 victory

January 22, 1993|By Doug Church | Doug Church,Contributing Writer

CHICAGO -- Construction is well under way on a new Chicago Stadium across from the Blackhawks' historic and raucous home on 1800 West Madison St., and that can only be good news for the Washington Capitals and the rest of the NHL.

The Caps' 6-2 loss last night was their sixth straight at the stadium. All-Star goalie Ed Belfour, in a 37-save performance, and a handful of defensive miscues were the responsible culprits.

"They might want to delay construction for the next couple of years," Capitals coach Terry Murray said of the Blackhawks, who are 14-3-4 at home with Belfour in goal.

"There's not too many teams that come into this building and have success," Murray said. "They went to the Stanley Cup finals last year primarily because of their play at home.

"But tonight, we didn't play smart."

Rookie right wing Keith Jones and defenseman Kevin Hatcher scored first-period goals for the Capitals after the Blackhawks had taken an early 2-0 lead.

Stephane Matteau scored two goals, the first two-goal game of his career, to lead the Blackhawks, who put the Caps away with a strong second period.

The Capitals' top-ranked penalty-killing unit extinguished the first three Chicago power plays, but the Blackhawks took advantage on their fourth for a 3-2 lead near the game's halfway point, courtesy of a vintage Chicago Stadium bounce.

In a few areas around the rink, the panes of Plexiglas do not come together squarely, especially in the corners. Knowing this, Chicago defenseman Chris Chelios sent the puck in along the left boards.

Instead of rolling behind the net, the puck suddenly caromed out in front of Capitals goalie Don Beaupre, who was off to the left side of the net. Michel Goulet took the deflection and fired a low shot through Beaupre's legs for the eventual game-winning goal.

"If you believe physics, when the puck goes around in a corner, it's not supposed to come back that straight," Caps defenseman Sylvain Cote said. "You try to anticipate where the puck will go, but if it changes at the last minute, well, everybody gets caught flat-footed."

A key sequence came when Chicago later killed off Washington's two-man advantage and took advantage of a XTC costly error in the Capitals' zone to score with 7.8 seconds left in the period for a 4-2 lead.

Right wing Dave Christian wrestled the puck free along the left boards and found Matteau alone in front of the net. Matteau slid the puck through Beaupre's legs for his second goal of the game.

Greg Gilbert and Dirk Graham added third-period goals for the Blackhawks, who outshot the Capitals 39-35.

Sloppy defense by both teams in the early going created numerous scoring chances. The Capitals fell behind 2-0 in the first 3:27.

Jeremy Roenick wasted no time in giving the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead, putting a rebound of defenseman Steve Smith's blast from the point into an open net past Beaupre 41 seconds after the opening faceoff. Mike Ridley's ill-advised clearing attempt gave Smith the open slap shot.

Minutes later, Caps defenseman Al Iafrate lost a rare race for the puck to Christian. He made a perfect centering pass to Matteau, who buried the puck into the open net for a 2-0 lead.

But 40 seconds later, Jones scored for the Capitals by backhanding a rebound of Peter Bondra's shot into a yawning net after beating two Hawks to the edge of the crease.

Hatcher scored late in the first period to tie the score 2-2.

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