Streaking Rangers defeat Capitals, 2-0, take over first place

November 14, 1993|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- The Washington Capitals saluted the New York Rangers last night, and it was justified.

The streaking Rangers not only shut out the Capitals, 2-0, but they also zipped past the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers into first place in the Atlantic Division.

It was the seventh straight victory for New York, and the end of a six-game winning streak for Washington.

Two surging teams met at the USAir Arena, and it was the Rangers who came out on top behind a hot goaltender in Mike Richter (21 saves and fifth career shutout).

"They deserved to win," said Al Iafrate, who leads the Capitals with 15 points. "I don't have much else to say."

Washington coach Terry Murray said the Rangers are a "good looking team. It's easy to see why they have won seven in a row."

According to Murray, the Rangers have an outstanding collection of skilled players who move the puck well and pass even better.

"We just ran into a good team and they had some breaks on specialty teams with that short-handed goal [by Mike Gartner for 2-0 lead late in first period]," said Washington left wing Kelly Miller.

New York has the top-rated power play in the NHL and is also No. 1 in penalty killing.

Add all that to the goaltending of Richter and the Rangers (12-5-1) are starting to look like a serious first-place team.

"We're not going to floor it. We have to keep our perspective," Rangers coach Mike Keenan said. "What we're trying to accomplish is to have a team that exceptionally prepared for playoff competition.

"But when you shut down a team that is on a roll the way we did tonight, it's an effort to be proud of. We did an excellent job killing penalties and we the big save from Michael when we needed it. It was an all-round solid effort."

The Rangers scored twice within 3:08 of the first period, and that was more than enough.

Center Sergei Nemchinov got the Rangers going at 14:26 of the first period, scoring on a wraparound after retrieving a shot by Kevin Lowe off the boards.

"That was a fluke goal," said Murray. "He just happened to get to the puck and then he caught 'Tab' [Capitals goaltender Rick Tabaracci] going the wrong way."

Gartner came back at 17:34 with the shorthanded goal for the 2-0 advantage, as he knocked in a rebound of a shot by Lowe.

It seemed too early for the Capitals to panic, but they became listless in the second period and got off only three shots and failed on two power plays.

Washington (9-8) did show some aggressiveness in the final six minutes of the game as Iafrate led a belated charge.

But the Capitals could never dent Richter, who was very good last night.

"The guys are playing so well in front of me that I can't really get excited about this," Richter said. "They didn't give me an awful lot of work, but it still felt good."

With a little more than 1:30 left in the game, Murray pulled Tabaracci in favor of a sixth attacker, but that didn't work either.

"Richter made quality saves on Peter Bondra and Iafrate in the third period and he made a super save on Craig Berube in the first period," Murray said. "In all, we played pretty well and they were very good."

Murray said his team needs to start another winning streak and take some positives out of this loss.

"We have to learn we can improve," said Murray. "We need to make better decisions, move the puck better and pass better."

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