Caps slow streaking Sabres, 4-1 Adams dominance at home now 8-0-1

March 31, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- When the Patrick Division race is getting tight and the Washington Capitals need a victory, they don't call 911. They call the Adams Division.

It doesn't matter which Adams team comes into the Capital Centre, the Capitals send it home wondering how things could go so wrong.

Yesterday, the Buffalo Sabres, who came in riding a league-high seven-game unbeaten streak on the road, became Washington's ninth Adams target.

The Capitals won, 4-1, to extend their dominance at home over Adams Division foes to 8-0-1. Overall, they are 12-5-2.

"We talked about our inconsistency before the game," said Capitals coach Terry Murray. "We talked about playing well against conferences not our own. If we played as intelligently and as smart against the Patrick Division as we did tonight, our record would be a lot better."

The two points Washington collected last night give it a three-point edge over the New Jersey Devils in their battle for second place in the Patrick.

Washington could help itself again Friday, when the Adams Division-leading Montreal Canadiens arrive for their only appearance here this season.

"They played a heck of a hockey game," said Buffalo center Pat LaFontaine. "They jumped up and countered very well. They forechecked us and they deserved to win."

With 13,327 fans looking on, Washington held the powerful Sabres to just one goal on 25 shots. And the Caps put the game away with 4:58 to go when Todd Krygier scored on a three-on-none breakaway against goalie Grant Fuhr.

Washington's defense shut down Buffalo's fast-break offense and secured the neutral zone as if it were Fort Knox. Then it refused to allow the Sabres standout scoring duo of LaFontaine and Alexander Mogilny to get going.

Washington's line of Mike Ridley, Kelly Miller and Krygier worked hard to deny LaFontaine the puck most of the night and won.

"We figured if we kept the puck away from LaFontaine, it would limit Mogilny's success," Murray said. "We worked very hard at that."

In fact, LaFontaine, who came into last night's game one point behind NHL leader Mario Lemieux, was shut out and Mogilny picked up only one assist, on Buffalo's power-play goal by Donald Audette.

"I think, that besides playing good defense, the ice was on our side," said Washington goalie Don Beaupre. "By the third period, it had gotten really terrible. It was rough and the puck was really bouncing around. It was hard for anyone to get off a good shot."

The Capitals outshot Buffalo 21-8 in the first period but the effort got them only a 1-1 tie.

Peter Bondra opened the scoring, taking a pass from Michal Pivonka alone in front of the net and beating Fuhr with 15:33 gone.

A minute later, Kevin Hatcher was called for holding. Buffalo capitalized on the power play, when Dale Hawerchuk was able to get the puck to Audette between Caps defensemen Al Iafrate and Sylvain Cote. Audette turned, and put the puck under Beaupre's leg with 3:14 left.

"We didn't get frustrated," said Murray. "After the first period, we talked about maintaining our patience. In the last two games we lost, we beat ourselves because we didn't. This time we were very responsible and didn't give them any opportunities."

The Capitals wasted no time jumping on Buffalo in the second period. Rookie right wing Keith Jones took a pass from Dale Hunter at the top of the circle, and beat Fuhr for a 2-1 lead with 16 seconds gone.

The Capitals kept Fuhr busy in the first two periods, with 27 of their 31 shots on goal. He stopped most of them, including all four of the Caps' power-play opportunities.

But he had no chance when Iafrate wound up for a slap shot near the blue line and put the Caps ahead 3-1 with 10:24 left.

NOTES: Ridley will play in his 500th game as a Capital on Friday. . . . Reggie Savage has played in just nine games this season and was scratched for the 13th straight time last night. Bobby Carpenter also was scratched.

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