Rangers jump all over Caps, 4-0 New York ends four-game skid

April 05, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- The New York Rangers, their playoff hopes hanging by a frayed string, were ready from the start yesterday, and the Washington Capitals weren't.

The result was that the announced crowd of 16,281 at the Capital Centre saw the second shutout in two games, but this time it was the aggressive Rangers and goalie John Vanbiesbrouck who carried off a 4-0 victory and broke a four-game losing streak.

"This was very, very important," said Adam Graves, who scored the Rangers' first goal. "We just have to look at the standings to know that. . . . We have seven games left, and it's up for grabs."

The Rangers are one point behind the New York Islanders for the final playoff spot in the Patrick Division.

It was a particularly difficult game for Washington goalie Don Beaupre, whose defense let him down mightily in the first period.

That's when Graves, Mike Gartner and Ed Olczyk showed no favoritism in beating most of the Capitals at one time or another to be in perfect position to put the puck past Beaupre.

Trying to shake up his team, Washington coach Terry Murray pulled Beaupre (three goals on 15 shots) for backup Rick Tabaracci at the start of the second period. He also changed all of his lines and his defensive pairings.

The result was another fine performance by Tabaracci, who gave up one goal on 16 shots the rest of the way. Ranger Jeff Beukeboom scored with 3:30 gone in the second for the 4-0 advantage.

"We weren't flat," Washington center Mike Ridley said. "We just weren't ready. You've got to be up and prepared, even if you're only going out to mow the grass. It was like no one gave any thought to what they were going to have to do when the game started."

What happened was a series of fights that rolled up the majority of the 68 penalty minutes shared by the two teams. Thirty-eight of those minutes came in the first period.

Murray described what he saw as each player "being in his own little world out there." He took the loss particularly hard, as it came after of one of the best efforts of the season Friday night, when Washington beat the Montreal Canadiens, 4-0.

"It is hard to figure out what our problem is against the Patrick Division," said Murray, whose team has the worst record against division rivals in the division, 11-19-2. "This game was exactly the opposite of what it should have been. We should

have been the one coming out with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. We'd won against Montreal, the New York Rangers were 2-6 in their last eight and had a lot of reasons to be down and out. . . ."

Washington went into yesterday's game with a five-point lead over the New Jersey Devils for second place in the division. It must face division foes in five of its last six games, beginning with the New York Islanders here tomorrow night.

"We had two big wins, against Montreal and Buffalo, and it looks like we're in good position," Ridley said. "But . . . we can't seem to come ready to play three games in a row. It's happened a lot this year, and there are no excuses for it."

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