Savage earns spot on Capitals now Murray must find it for him

January 25, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

The Washington Capitals defenseman Kevin Hatcher, who has 25 points in his past 22 games and leads all NHL defensemen in goals with 20, obviously is enjoying the month of January. And after Saturday night's 6-4 victory over Ottawa, rookie forward Reggie Savage found out he will be, too.

Savage was called up from the Skipjacks on Friday night and played in Saturday's game. He had three terrific chances to score goals early, but Ottawa's All-Star goalie, Peter Sidorkiewicz, frustrated him each time.

Then Savage turned his frustration into motivation, assisting on a second-period goal by Alan May that gave the Capitals a brief 3-2 lead and impressing Capitals coach Terry Murray so much the coach said Savage had earned an extended look.

The Capitals (25-19-4) are scheduled to practice today before leaving for tomorrow night's game against the Patrick Division-leading Pittsburgh Penguins, the first stop on a two-game road trip.

"Reggie played well," said Murray. "Geez, he had three great opportunities on one shift. I'm going to keep him here a little bit and take a look at him. He played well enough to deserve another opportunity."

Murray said he doesn't know how he is going to get him into the lineup, but added, "Something will give and we'll make room because of what he showed me -- the intensity, the effort and that nose for the net. He showed he can be a threat out there."

This is Savage's second call-up this season. He opened the season with the parent club, but in his first three games, he scored no points. After a stint with the Skipjacks he was called up and had two goals, including his first NHL goal, which came on a penalty shot against Minnesota Nov. 18. He also had two assists, but after four games he was again shipped to the Skipjacks.

"I'd been down there for almost two months and the Capitals have been playing very well," said Savage, who had 30 goals with the Skipjacks. "It was tough to go down the last time and after two months, you start to feel like you might be there for the rest of the year.

"But now this. It's nice to know he [Murray] sees I'm working hard."

Saturday night, Hatcher set a hard-working example. And the Capitals needed his third-period efforts to ward off the determined Senators, who were trying to get their first road win in 25 tries.

It was Hatcher who assisted in the second period on a goal by Peter Bondra to tie the game at 2. It was Hatcher, anchoring the three-man penalty-killing team with Kelly Miller and Mike Ridley, who prevented Ottawa from getting even one good shot on goal during a five-on-three power play in the second.

And it was Hatcher who scored twice in the third period and slapped away what appeared to be a game-tying goal for Ottawa in the third, to assure the victory.

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