Caps catch Islanders in opener Hunter scores 2 in 3-goal third

April 19, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- Beforehand, veteran center Dale Hunter said the three most important aspects of this game with the New York Islanders would be sticking to the game plan, patience and execution.

Last night, in Game 1 of this best-of-seven NHL Patrick Division playoff series, Hunter followed his direction to perfection. His two goals in the third period made the difference for Washington, which emerged with a 3-1 victory.

The win gives Washington a 1-0 lead in the series and its first home-ice victory against the Islanders in four tries this season.

The two teams will meet here tomorrow for Game 2 at 7:30 p.m.

"Dale Hunter has been around for a long time," said Islanders coach Al Arbour. "He gets under your skin.

He's always there, always digging. As much as I hate him, I respect him very much for what he does for his team."

Hunter's two goals, combined with a 22-save performance by Washington goalie Rick Tabaracci, made the difference for the Capitals.

With Washington trailing 1-0 in the third period, Hunter scored twice in a span of 3:43 to stake the Capitals to a 2-1 lead with 12:59 to play. Tabaracci followed with a huge save off his left leg pad against the Islanders' Derek King, who got off a wrist shot from the slot.

"Those two things were the difference right there," said Arbour. "We've got to get more out of our top line."

The Capitals' defense, primarily Kelly Miller, Mike Ridley and Bob Carpenter, held the Islanders' top line of Pierre Turgeon, King and Steve Thomas to six shots, with King getting four of them.

Hunters' two goals changed the atmosphere and the direction of this game.

The Islanders had played a tight-checking defense and rose to every occasion over the first two periods. But with 3:18 gone in the third, Todd Krygier took a shot that rebounded to Pat Elynuik, who in turn tipped it in front of the net, where Hunter skated in and lifted it over goalie Glenn Healy.

Then, with 7:01 gone, while the Islanders were trying to kill a power play, Hunter was able to elude defenseman Vladimir Malakhov to lift the puck high into the far corner of the net past Healy.

"Dale's a big game player," said Washington captain Kevin Hatcher. "He's got a big heart and he loves to win. And he did it all for us tonight."

Dimitri Khristich got his stick on a slap shot by Michal Pivonka and directed it into the net with 4:35 left, giving the Capitals breathing room.

"We've got to play our game," Hunter said. "We've got to be patient and execute, because the team that is going to win this series is going to be the one who executes the best."

Washington found it difficult to execute early on the offensive end, but Tabaracci, who was given the start over veteran Don Beaupre last night, continued to excel.

The 24-year-old gave up one goal in the first period to Ray Ferraro, who executed perfectly on a two-on-one breakaway. But after that the Islanders took their best shots without success.

"It felt great to get this win," said Tabaracci. "It didn't feel so great to get behind 1-0. But the guys played really well and it

turned out OK."

Tabaracci slipped on what he described as "terrible ice" and twisted his right ankle in the second period. He had the ankle wrapped in ice after the game, but said he would be ready for tomorrow's game.

Capitals coach Terry Murray also said he anticipates Tabaracci being ready, "unless the trainer comes and tells me he can't."

The Islanders, who won here three times in the regular season, continued their dominance of the Capitals in the first two periods.

With everyone talking about how necessary it is to have a hot goalie, Healy, 2-6 in five previous playoff series, certainly looked like one for a long time last night. And with the Islanders' defense concentrating on closing down Washington's offense, New York looked plenty capable of winning here again.

Healy made 18 saves in the first two periods, but while Washington's luck wasn't good -- hitting crossbars and being unable to capitalize on terrific opportunities from the post and crease, the Capitals were turning up the heat in the second period.

NOTES: D Al Iafrate (hamstring) played his regular shifts last night. . . . Washington gave all fans in attendance noisemakers. It made the crowd the noisiest of the season.


/ (Capitals lead series, 1-0) Results

Capitals 3, Islanders 1


Date .. .. .. Time .. .. .. .. Site

Tomorrow .. .. 7:30 .. .. .. Capital Centre

Thursday .. .. 7:30 .. .. .. .. N.Y.I.

Saturday .. .. 7:30 .. .. .. .. N.Y.I.

April 26 .. .. 7:30 .. .. .. .. Capital Centre*

April 28 .. .. 7:30 .. .. .. .. N.Y.I.*

April 30 .. .. ..8 .. .. .. .. Capital Centre*

* - if necessary

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