Caps lose scoring touch, game to Canadiens

February 05, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- The Washington Capitals turned back into pumpkins last night after a three-game run as goal-scorers in Cinderella's slippers.

Jim Schoenfeld, who has been the Capitals' coach for nine days, got a good look at his team's inconsistent nature in a 4-0 shutout against the Montreal Canadiens at USAir Arena.

"We weren't as sharp mentally," said Schoenfeld. "But there was no quit in us. We were up against a better team. At least they were better over the last 40 minutes.

"We've got some work to do. We lost focus after the third goal, we weren't coming to the bench hard in the third on line changes and we were overstaying on our shifts sometimes. It was the little, tangible things where you notice the difference."

After producing a three-game winning streak and averaging five goals per game, the Capitals came up empty before 15,722.

Montreal goaltender Patrick Roy got his sixth shutout of the season and made 24 saves, though only one or two shots were anything to worry about.

While Roy closed down the Capitals, his teammates made the most of their opportunities and got a natural hat trick from left wing Vincent Damphousse. It was his second hat trick of the season.

Montreal got its first goal from Kirk Muller just 33 seconds into the game. And then Damphousse did the rest.

He got two goals in the second period and scored for the last time with 4:39 to play, sending many of the spectators to the exits.

"He's on a roll right now," said Montreal coach Jacques Demers, whose team stretched its winning streak to three games. "When Vincent is hot, he's tough to stop. I think he scored two the other night and had four points against Hartford. When Vincent's hot, he's as hot as you can have."

The Capitals will try to regenerate some heat of their own here tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"Don't dwell on the past," said Washington center Dale Hunter, in advance of any questions. "Just don't dwell on it. Look to the future."

Hunter, playing his 500th game as a Capital, certainly has a point. Last night, the Capitals looked an awful lot like the Capitals before they got a new coach, and no one wants to think about that.

Washington's best third-period scoring chance came with about seven minutes to play, when Kelly Miller missed a wrap-around shot.

"It could have gone a little better tonight," said goalie Rick Tabaracci, who was starting for the first time in four games. "We seemed to get emotionally drained after we got down a couple and I felt like I might have been gripping the stick too tight.

"I hadn't played in a while, and with a new coach you want to do well. I might have been over-concentrating, instead of letting the game come to me."

But, said Schoenfeld: "Even if Tabby had been perfect, we'd still have no more than a 0-0 tie."

The Capitals dominated much of the play in the first and second periods, but Montreal led 3-0 after the middle period. Damphousse's last goal was simply the icing.

"We just played one of the best teams in the league at protecting the lead," said Schoenfeld. "Roy makes the first save and they eliminate the second shots.

"We have to get better and we have the rest of the season to do it.

"Sure I thought we'd win them all the rest of the way, but hey, we lost one. You can't abandon everything that has been working just because of one loss."

NOTES: The Capitals sent D Enrico Ciccone and RW Keith Jones to join AHL Portland today for a game in Hershey, Pa. They will remain with the team for 10 days of conditioning. Defenseman Jason Woolley (abdominal strain) will join them tomorrow, after a final medical checkup. . . . Hunter is the 10th player in Capitals history to play 500 games for the team. He was acquired from Quebec on June 13, 1987. Since his arrival here, he has produced 132 goals and 263 assists for 395 points. He is currently 10th on the team's all-time scoring list. Hunter, who is the first Capitals player to play in more than 1,000 games in a career, is one of only three players in NHL history to record 850 points and 1,600 penalty minutes, joining Hall of Famers Gordie Howe (1,850 points, 1,685 penalty minutes) and Ted Lindsay (851, 1,808). . . . Dave Poulin, who had been suffering with an intestinal virus, made it into the lineup last night for the first time in six games. . . . Rookie Pat Peake, who scored the winning goal against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday and hurt his leg on the goal post in the process, was scratched. . . . The Capitals have produced a commemorative book, "Two Decades of Hockey in Washington," which is available to the public. The book is available at USAir Arena or through the mail. For more information, call (301) 386-7000.

CAPITALS TONIGHT

Opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning

5Site: USAir Arena, Landover

Time: 7:30

TV: None

Radio: WMAL (630 AM)

Tickets: 3,000 available

Outlook: Tampa Bay comes to town on a two-game losing streak. The Lightning faces a Capitals team that missed a HTC chance to reach .500 last night. The loss broke Washington's three-game winning streak. RW Pat Peake (leg), D Enrico Ciccone (pulled groin) and RW Keith Jones (wrist) are day-to-day, and D Jason Woolley (torn abdominal muscle) is out. Tampa Bay D Donald DuFresne (knee ligaments) and G Wendell Young (conditioning with IHL Atlanta) are out.

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