Hatcher's slap shot helps push Capitals past Canadiens, 5-3

December 12, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

MONTREAL -- The Washington Capitals, hoping to build on a strong performance in Philadelphia Thursday night, came away with their second big Eastern Conference victory, beating the Montreal Canadiens, 5-3, last night before 16,495 at the Forum.

The Capitals, within one game of .500 at 13-14-2, reclaimed fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

It was Kevin Hatcher's slap shot with 7:25 gone in the third period that made it 4-3, and the Caps made the lead hold up through wave after wave of Montreal attacks.

Michal Pivonka scored into an open net with 2.9 seconds left for the final 5-3 margin.

"We talked after the Philly game about winning one and coming back flat," said Capitals goalie Don Beaupre. "This is the first time we've made two strong efforts back to back." Beaupre, who looked shaky at times, made the saves when they counted most in the closing minutes of the third period to improve his record to 7-5-1.

Keith Jones, who has produced three goals in two games, nearly broke the 3-3 tie at 14:45, when he attacked Montreal goalie Patrick Roy on a one-on-one breakaway. And Montreal's Oleg Petrov nearly broke it on a breakaway against Capitals goalie Don Beaupre at 14:15.

But it wasn't until Hatcher blew the puck past Roy, and ruined his 2.36 goals-against average, that the third tie in this game was broken.

Three of the Caps' goals came on power plays, a feat considering the Caps' power play was ranked 20th in the league going into the game.

"Our power play has been struggling," said coach Terry Murray. "It's not been good from the very first day. But you have to have some faith that it's going to turn around. In the past, it's always been very good. The talk, the tape and the meetings are starting to pay off. It was very timely tonight."

At the start of the game, Washington seemed to pick up where it left off in Philadelphia last night, controlling the play.

But at 14:17, Montreal got the puck out to a sprinting Vincent Damphousse, and though Beaupre came up with a big stop, the play seemed to upset the Capitals defense and enliven the Canadians.

Just 20 seconds later, Damphousse carried the puck behind Washington's net and got it out to Brian Bellows, who hammered it into the goal under a diving Beaupre for a 1-0 lead.

The Caps then played some solid defense, helped by some fine play by rookie John Slaney, who was making his debut.

With 8:32 to play, another rookie, Kevin Kaminski, passed the puck to Craig Berube. The left wing circled behind Montreal's net and then shot the wraparound that eluded Roy for a 1-1 tie.

It didn't last long. Forty-one seconds later, a shot by Peter Popovic bounced high off Beaupre's glove and Damphousse swatted it out of the air and into the net. Montreal led 2-1.

Washington managed to get even again, with 15:23 gone. The Caps were on the power play when Slaney was able to get the puck to Caps defenseman Al Iafrate for a slap shot. Roy got his pad on it, but the puck bounced out and Randy Burridge collected it for one of those easy rebound put-aways that Murray has been going hoarse preaching about.

The second period started well for Washington. With 3:09 gone, on another power-play opportunity, Al Iafrate let go a slap shot from the blue line that Jones directed into the net for his third goal in two games, giving the Caps a 3-2 lead.

But with just 1:18 left in the second period, the Capitals unraveled for a few seconds, and that was all Montreal needed.

Iafrate had been driving deep into Montreal territory when Mike Keane stole the puck. He shipped it out to Gilbert Dionne.

Dimitri Khristich and Sylvain Cote tried to close him down, but Dionne managed to get behind Washington's net. When Pivonka was unable to get his stick on a pass to Popovic in front of the

Caps net, Washington was in trouble.

Popovic's shot eluded Beaupre for the defenseman's first NHL goal, making it 3-3.

NOTES: Todd Krygier flew to Montreal yesterday afternoon and joined the Caps in time for the game. Krygier couldn't stop smiling or talking about the Thursday night birth of his first child, Brock. "Absolutely amazing," said Krygier. "But if I was a woman, I don't know that I'd be willing to go through that. I had no idea how much pain was involved." . . . Krygier, a left wing, was immediately added to the lineup, while RW Pat Peake and D Brian Curran were scratched. . . . The Capitals planned to bus to Quebec after last night's game and scheduled a practice there for late this afternoon. . . . Cote has the best plus/minus on the team, plus 12, while team captain Kevin Hatcher has the worst plus/minus at minus 12.

Washington 2 1 2 -- 5

Montreal ..2 1 0 -- 3

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