Bondra, Caps rally by Canucks 3-2 win pushes Washington to .500

November 06, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- The Washington Capitals used two third-period goals by Peter Bondra to overcome a 2-1 deficit and go on to beat the Vancouver Canucks, 3-2, last night at USAir Arena.

The victory keeps the Capitals' winning streak alive at four games. And now, three weeks after starting 0-6, Washington is 7-7, .500 for the first time this season and one of the hottest teams in the NHL.

"We all had a bad start and now we're all playing good," said Bondra, who collected his fifth and sixth goals of the season.

"I had a lot of chances to score early in the season and couldn't. Tonight, I had two chances and scored twice. That is the way it should be."

For the Canucks, it was their fourth loss in five games since leading scorer Pavel Bure went to the sidelines with a groin pull.

This victory didn't come easy, however. The Capitals looked stymied after two periods. They were behind 2-1 and their only goal had come when the Canucks had a pass bounce off Washington center Steve Konowalchuk's skate onto the stick of teammate Alan May.

May, who was behind the Vancouver defense, turned and saw a clear path to the net.

"Too much net," May said. "All I had to do was shoot it. I obviously have a very strong shot."

Until the 9:33 mark of the third period, it was Washington's only shot that counted.

But then, with 15,161 fans chanting "Go Caps Go," Bondra left Vancouver defenseman Dana Murzyn face down on the ice, as Bondra skated in and sent a puck high into the back of the Canucks' net to give Washington life at 2-2.

"It feels very good to come back and win this game," said coach Terry Murray, whose team had not been able to rally for a victory in the third period before last night. "We played a good game in the third period. I think we just wanted to play so well in the first that we couldn't."

Bondra's second goal came off a sweeping pass from Mike Ridley, who spotted Bondra at the backdoor for the game-winner with 5:30 left.

"I just knew he was there," Ridley said. "I guess I saw him, I don't know. But what I do know is that the last thing we wanted to do was to come back from a great road trip and lose at home. If we had lost this game, we would have had to sit around for three days and think about it and no one wanted to do that."

After May's goal, 1:58 into the first period, Vancouver, which has the third-best power-play unit in the NHL, tied the score on the power play with 15:43 gone, when Cliff Ronning beat Washington goalie Rick Tabaracci.

Tabaracci, who made 22 saves, allowed only one other score. That came in the second period when Greg Adams beat him 11:49 into the period.

After that, Washington played soundly on defense and for the ninth straight game held the competition to three goals or less.

With 25 seconds left, the Capitals also survived a last-ditch effort by Vancouver to get one final chance on the power play.

The Canucks called time and asked the officials to check the curve on Ridley's stick. The blade was found to be within the required three-inch width and it was the Canucks who were given a two-minute

penalty for delay of game.

"If there is anyone on our team I can be sure of having a legal stick it's Ridley," said Murray. "He checks his sticks at least 10 times a day."

Neither team seemed to have anything flowing early in the first period.

But the Capitals got on the board first, when an errant Vancouver pass bounced off Konowalchuk and onto May's stick. May's shot went through the legs of Canucks goaltender Kirk McLean for a 1-0 lead.

Vancouver controlled much of the play in the period, and the Capitals found themselves playing a man down three times over the last 7:08 of the period. Not a good thing, in the best of times, and even worse when playing Vancouver and its power-play unit.

The Canucks tied the score on the power play with 15:43 gone in the period. Tabaracci had been called for roughing to give Vancouver the power-play opportunity and then made a solid save on a long-range shot by Dave Babych.

But the rebound came out to Jiri Slegr, who quickly passed back to Ronning for a wrist shot that easily cleared Tabaracci's left shoulder.

It was the only bad move of the period by Tabaracci, who twice stopped the Canucks on two-on-one break-aways and made a total of 13 saves in the first 20 minutes.

The second period looked a lot like the first, except Vanvouver was the only team to score.

NOTES: Capitals fans who want to take a Sunday drive can find the Capitals practicing at the Reston (Va.) Ice Forum from 12:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., when the new skating facility holds its grand opening . . . Capitals Pat Peake and Enrico Ciccone were scratched from last night's line up . . . Randy Burridge needs just one point to tally 300 in his NHL career.

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