Tabaracci, Healy save face, as Rangers beat Capitals, 1-0 Goalies steal the show

Hunter used sparingly

December 24, 1993|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- A Washington Capitals fan stood up in the stands midway through the second period and flashed a sign that simply said, "Dale."

But that was about the most noise made by Capitals center Dale Hunter last night in his much anticipated return after missing 10 games with a partially torn medial collateral ligament.

Hunter was used sparingly by coach Terry Murray and never really got into the flow of the game against the attacking New York Rangers, who got the only goal from Adam Graves 9 minutes, 52 seconds into the third period for a 1-0 victory.

The Rangers were held off most of the game by a red-hot Capitals goaltender Rick Tabaracci, but he couldn't turn back the shot by Graves who swarmed the net for the score off an assist by Mike Gartner.

It was billed as possibly a duel between the returning Hunter and New York's Alexei Kovalev who administered the hit on Hunter that put him out for the 10 games.

But the two players never really came close to each other most of the game.

New York goaltender Glenn Healy stole the show most of the game for the Rangers, as he turned back one shot after another by Washington.

Healy made his most important save with 32 seconds left when he stopped a Michal Pivonka shot.

It was the 20th save for Healy and gave him his sixth career shutout in a duel with Tabaracci who had 24 saves.

It was the fourth victory for New York in as many games against Washington this season.

The two teams battled to a scoreless draw at the end of two periods that featured a couple of fights in the first seven minutes of the game and a lot of hard hitting.

But no one could put the puck in the net, even though the attacking Rangers rained 17 shots on Tabaracci and the Capitals got off 12 shots.

The closest either team came to scoring was in the final second of the first period when Tabaracci knocked down a shot by New York's Kevin Lowe and then had the quickness to go back and swipe the puck away from the goal just before it could go in.

It was one of 17 saves by Tabaracci in the first two periods, as he picked right up where he left off in Tuesday night's 4-1 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Just 48 seconds into the game, Washington's Craig Berube and New York's Jeff Beukeboom got into a tussle that thrilled the crowd and set the stage for a wild first period that had 13 penalties called, but no goals.

NOTES: NHL great Gordie Howe ended his 65th birthday celebration tour of 65 cities last night in Washington. Howe raised $1 million for charities on the goodwill trip, emphasizing youth sports. Youth hockey in Washington received the money Howe raised on his D.C. stop. Howe was introduced at center ice before the game, given a Caps' No. 65 jersey, and dropped the ceremonial first puck. . . . The Washington Capitals third annual skills competition will be held Monday at 7 p.m. at USAir Arena for the benefit of Children's Hospital. This year's competition will also include a celebrity contest, with the Orioles' Gregg Olson and the Redskins' Chip Lohmiller, Matt Elliott, Rick Graf and Rich Gannon among the participants. The skills competition divides the Capitals into two teams and determines who has the hardest shot, is the fastest skater, puck control relay, shot accuracy and rapid fire shooting. Al Iafrate, who set an NHL record in the hardest shot contest (105.2 miles per hour) at the NHL All-Star Game last year, will attempt to break that mark Monday. The USAir Arena doors will open at 3 p.m. for the day-long series of events that will include a card show, autograph and player-picture sessions and a team practice at 5:45 p.m.

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