Beaupre, Konowalchuk help Capitals rebound with 4-0 victory

January 16, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

QUEBEC -- The Washington Capitals can drive their fans nuts.

One night, the team is losing -- and losing ugly. The next night, it could win an NHL beauty pageant.

Last night, the Capitals rebounded from Friday night's 5-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils with a 4-0 shutout of the Quebec Nordiques.

Goaltender Don Beaupre made 24 saves, some of them spectacular, and Steve Konowalchuk, playing his first game in more than a month, led the offensive attack with two goals.

It was Beaupre's first shutout of the season and the Capitals' third.

Konowalchuk's two goals were sandwiched by Mike Ridley's first-period goal and rookie John Slaney's power-play goal with 13:27 gone in the third.

"We played real solid and didn't take too many chances," said Beaupre. "I probably get more credit than I deserve in this one. Overall, the team played great.

"It's great to get a shutout, but it's just one game. We'll see what happens from here."

The Capitals (20-20-4) will practice here today before heading to Montreal and the second game on this three-game Eastern Conference trip tomorrow night.

The Capitals had been playing soundly since mid-December, but suffered a disappointing breakdown Friday night against New Jersey.

In that game, nothing worked and goalie Rick Tabaracci, who has two shutouts this season, was pulled in the second period. Coach Terry Murray strongly criticized him for not giving Washington the big stops when needed.

Last night, the Capitals' good side surfaced.

"We really needed this turnaround," said Murray. "We had a disappointing loss against Toronto and then played badly against New Jersey. I thought it might be hard to come back from that. But, to come in here and play the way we did is very encouraging and Donnie Beaupre gave us big stops all through the game."

So did Konowalchuk, who has been patiently waiting his turn in the lineup. That turn came because the Capitals' performance Friday night was so bad that Murray felt he had to shake some things up. That meant Konowalchuk got in, as did Todd Krygier, who has been sidelined with a separated shoulder since Dec. 28.

Konowalchuk got the two goals and Krygier contributed an assist on Ridley's goal.

"Steve has waited very patiently for his chance," said Murray. "He was sitting out through no fault of his. He played well when he was in the lineup before, but he got caught in the numbers game."

Konowalchuk's two goals give him three for the season.

"I didn't know I was playing until 1:30 this afternoon," Konowalchuk said. "It's been frustrating not to play. But I enjoyed this."

He said the first goal came from a rebound. The second one happened so fast and got such a reaction from the crowd, Konowalchuk wasn't sure what happened.

"When I scored and everyone cheered, I looked around to see what had happened," Konowalchuk said. "I thought, 'Did I put it in the wrong net?' I just didn't know."

The Nordiques' crowd cheered loudly for the Capitals and booed every time Quebec handled the puck. For Quebec, the fans' desertion to the Capitals was the last insult, though perhaps not the biggest.

When the team arrived at the airport this week from a disastrous road trip, they were met by a large crowd singing "They all play for a yellow hockey team" to the tune of the Beatles song, "Yellow Submarine."

Last night, several fans showed up with bags over their heads and signs suggesting that coach Pierre Page must go.

Last night's loss was Quebec's sixth straight and made them losers in nine of their past 12.

NOTES: More than 100 Capitals fans were at the game. Eighty came as part of an organized Capitals trip, and more than 35 others came in a separate group. . . . Capitals D Kevin Hatcher is on the trip and said last night that he'll play before the trip is over. Since he didn't suit up last night, it will have to be tomorrow at Montreal or Wednesday at Florida.

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