Capitals rally to halt skid at four Top Canadiens in overtime, 3-2

April 13, 1993|By Stuart Cowan | Stuart Cowan,Contributing Writer

MONTREAL -- The Washington Capitals caught a lucky break last night in a 3-2 overtime victory against the Montreal Canadiens.

With a little more than a minute remaining in the overtime period, Canadiens coach Jacques Demers decided to pull goaltender Patrick Roy in favor of an extra attacker. Demers was forced to make the move because the Canadiens needed a victory if they wanted to have any chance of catching Quebec for second place in the Adams Division and gaining home-ice advantage when they face the Nordiques in the first round of the playoffs.

Washington's Mike Ridley ended the Canadiens' hopes when he scored into the empty net with 47.2 seconds left after missing the net completely on an earlier attempt.

"We knew they had to pull the goaltender and I told the guys that on the bench," said Capitals coach Terry Murray. "After we tied the game I told them to play smart and be patient and don't gamble because they were the ones who would have to gamble.

"It's a big two points for us," Murray added.

The victory moved the second-place Capitals three points ahead of the third-place New Jersey Devils in the battle for home-ice advantage in the Patrick Division semifinals. Both teams have two games remaining, and a Washington win or New Jersey loss will give the Capitals home-ice advantage when the playoffs begin Sunday.

"For us, home ice is important," Murray said. "We don't have a -- quote-- superstar forward, so home ice could be the edge we're looking for."

The teams were tied 1-1 heading into the third period after first-period goals by Montreal's Stephan Lebeau on the power play and Washington's Kevin Hatcher, who was in the penalty box when Lebeau scored.

Gilbert Dionne put Montreal ahead at the 13:27 mark of the third when Caps defenseman Sylvain Cote gave up the puck behind his net. Dionne picked up the loose puck and scored on a wrap-around.

Bob Carpenter tied the game with 3:08 remaining in regulation time.

The game almost didn't make it to overtime, as Caps goaltender Rick Tabaracci, who had lost his stick, stopped a point-blank blast by Mathieu Schneider with his blocker and smothered the rebound on the goal line.

"The shot came through a screen and I saw it after it went past a couple of guys," said Tabaracci, who was strong in goal, stopping 28 of 30 shots, including two in overtime.

The Caps dodged another bullet in the first period when Michal Pivonka was given a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct at the 13:03 mark after catching Schneider in the face with a high stick. Things got worse 25 seconds later when Hatcher drew a minor for high-sticking.

But the Capitals' penalty killers were up to the task, limiting the Canadiens to just five shots during the extended power play.

"Our penalty killing in the first period gave us a real boost," Murray said. "They gave us a lot of energy.

"We were very fortunate to come out of that situation with the score the way it was."

The win put an end to the Caps' four-game losing streak, but Murray said his team will need to play better in the playoffs.

"It wasn't the prettiest game in the world," said the coach. "There were a lot of missed opportunities out there."

The Capitals were unbeaten against the Canadiens this season, finishing 2-0-1 in the three-game series and giving up only three goals.

Washington is back in action tomorrow against the Rangers before wrapping up the season on Friday against them in Landover in a game that was originally scheduled for March 13.

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