Caps win, 6-4, stay alive Islanders return home with 3-2 lead in series

April 27, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- No lead is safe against the New York Islanders. That's clear enough after another spectacular rally nearly wiped the Washington Capitals out of the NHL playoffs.

But the Capitals are alive today, thanks to clutch saves by Don Beaupre, an open-net goal by Dale Hunter and a game clock that ran out with the Capitals leading, 6-4.

The best-of-seven Patrick Division semifinal series returns tomorrow to Nassau Coliseum for Game 6, with the Islanders leading, three games to two.

"The ending was scary," said Capitals coach Terry Murray. "But the bottom line is that we won. I'm hoping the open-net goal can be something we can rally around."

Washington went with Beaupre in the net for the first time in this series and seemed to have this game in hand with a 5-1 lead with 11:11 left. That's when Al Iafrate finished off his first career hat trick, and brought the 16,823 fans at the Capital Centre to their feet.

The fans threw clackers and streamers onto the ice in their enthusiasm and caused a 10-minute delay while the ice was cleared.

It was after the clean-up that the Islanders' Ray Ferraro (four goals) tried to drag his team to victory with a third-period hat trick. Ferraro's three goals covered an eight-minute span, and brought the Islanders to 5-4 before Hunter found the open net with 7.6 seconds to play.

"I think the guy carries the puck around in his hip pocket," said Capitals defenseman Kevin Hatcher, who then made the understatement of the playoffs: "We might have to watch him a lot closer next time."

Ferraro has been the Capitals' nemesis this series, with eight goals, including two game-winners, and a game-winning assist.

"We talked about carrying the puck and playing with confidence," said Murray. "We talked about it before the game and I'm going to have to talk about it again. We simply stopped showing confidence with the puck and they just threw everything at us."

It was a familiar scenario. Washington dug out a lead over the first 50 minutes, and then the Islanders came roaring back.

The only difference this time was that time ran out before New York could send the game to a fourth consecutive overtime.

"We played very casual up until the final 10 minutes of the third," said Islanders coach Al Arbour. "The last 10 minutes, we finally played hockey. I think we'll be ready to go [tomorrow]."

While it was Washington's defensive lapses that allowed New York to rally, it was also true the Capitals could not have survived without the offensive production of that same defense.

Iafrate's hat trick and Sylvain Cote's goal -- the game's first -- accounted for four of Washington's six goals.

Iafrate scored back-to-back in the first period for a 3-1 lead, and then scored his third at 11:11 of the third period for a 5-1 advantage.

In the meantime, Beaupre made 28 saves, including point-blank efforts against Tom Kurvers, Pierre Turgeon and Steve Thomas in the closing period, and found out what goalie Rick Tabaracci had gone through in the first four games.

"Late in the game, we let them come out of their end a little easy," said Iafrate. "If they have a head of steam out of their end rTC and no pressure -- you're standing flat-footed in your own end. . . . We have to put more pressure on them down the ice late in the game."

Beaupre got the start last night, despite impressive performances in each of the previous four games by Tabaracci, whose teammates could not come through in pressure moments.

Murray did it hoping to change the team's chemistry, and it worked.

While Washington could not find a winning goal for Tabaracci in three of the four games he played, the Capitals found it last night -- though Ferraro made their hearts pound.

"They started putting pressure on us, and we knew we had struggled with the lead before," said Cote. "We were, maybe, a little nervous. But I'd rather be more positive. We won the game this time instead of letting them win."

Hatcher, Washington's captain, was criticized after the game by Arbour.

"Paul Bunyan [Hatcher] there with his double ax nearly broke Thomas' arm, and nearly broke [Benoit] Hogue's arm in New York," said Arbour. "Why doesn't he use his body and drop his stick? He's using that as a weapon and there aren't any calls being made to stop him."

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