Capitals' fresh start ends with 7-2 loss

January 28, 1994|By Budd Bailey | Budd Bailey,Contributing Writer

BUFFALO — BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sports teams often receive a lift in games immediately following a coaching change. The Capitals' lift from replacing Terry Murray with Jim Schoenfeld lasted less than six minutes.

Schoenfeld, hired only a few hours before the opening faceoff, watched his new team take a 1-0 lead in the early going. The Capitals then played like a team deserving of its fourth straight loss, losing, 7-2, to the Sabres last night.

The Capitals had few moments where they played like they were trying to impress the new boss, but in fairness, a couple of other factors were involved in the defeat. Buffalo had 10 power plays, cashing in on three of them. And when Washington did have some chances, goalie Dominik Hasek stopped them when

they mattered.

Not many coaches receive a warm ovation in their first game as coach when their team is on the road, but Schoenfeld had exactly that when he walked along the boards to the bench shortly before the start of the game. Schoenfeld was the Sabres' first-round draft choice in 1972, and he spent most of his career in a Buffalo uniform. Schoenfeld also coached the Sabres during the first part of the 1985-86 season.

Referee Dave Jackson was busy, calling 10 penalties and setting up eight different power plays. Washington had five, Buffalo had three.

The Capitals were able to take advantage on their first opportunity with the man advantage. Mike Ridley had the puck behind the net when he found Khristich all alone in the slot. Hasek made the first save on Khristich's shot, but the left winger got his own rebound to Hasek's left. His second shot bounced off the post, glanced off Hasek and crawled just past the goal line. It was Khristich's 22nd of the season, which leads the team.

Buffalo needed only 34 seconds to tie the score at one. Alexander Mogilny had the puck along the boards near the Washington blue line, and flipped a pass through traffic to a charging Plante. The rookie center came in alone, made a quick move and put a back-hander above the sprawling Capitals goalie, Rick Tabaracci.

The Sabres struck for two goals within 40 seconds to take the lead early in the second period.

With John Slaney of the Capitals off for tripping, Richard Smehlik of the Sabres took a hard shot from the point. Derek Plante, standing in the slot, jumped up and out to the way, screening Tabaracci in the process. The puck went into the net for a 2-1 Buffalo lead.

Seconds later, Dale Hawerchuk skated from his own end line to the Washington blue line, where he passed to Donald Audette on right wing. Audette skated down to the faceoff circle, where he threw a centering pass across. Hawerchuk stuck his stick out and deflected it into the net for the goal.

The Sabres were given the chance to break open the game when Washington's Pat Peake was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for high-sticking Rob Ray. Buffalo cashed in for two goals.

Ken Sutton took a shot from just inside the middle of the Washington blue line, and Yuri Khmylev deflected the puck in with his stick.

About a minute and a half later, Hawerchuk tried a centering pass that bounced off a few skates and wound up on the stick of Audette. The winger's shot was blocked, but the puck dribbled to Brad May, who was left uncovered around the crease. May snapped the puck into the net for a 5-1 Buffalo lead.

Khristich had his second goal of the night in the third period. Rob Ray and Bob Sweeney scored for the Sabres.

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