Bondra scores 5 Caps roll, 6-3

February 06, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- Peter Bondra broke out of a season-long slump by turning in one of the greatest single-game performances in Washington Capitals history.

After scoring only 14 goals in 40 games -- and just three in the past 18 -- Bondra scored five times last night to lead the Capitals to a 6-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning before 15,811 at USAir Arena.

"I had a different feeling tonight," Bondra said. "I came to the arena thinking how tough the first half of the season had been for me and the team and just decided to forget it.

"I've been dreaming of nights like this. Unbelievable! Five goals in one game -- in the NHL."

Before the game, Bondra had caused great laughter in the locker room when he was asked whether he had gotten his stick changed for this game.

"I said no, I got a pair of new hands instead," he said. "Everyone laughed. It was a fun moment."

Washington coach Jim Schoenfeld recalled the moment.

"What he didn't tell us was that he also got a new heart, new determination and great speed," he said. "It was the most incredible performance, as fine a performance as I've ever seen."

The victory moved the Capitals ahead of Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division and into the eighth and last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"It was a timely performance for us," Schoenfeld said. "It got us on the bottom rung of the ladder, now we have to start climbing up."

The Capitals are now 4-2 under Schoenfeld as they head to New York for tomorrow night's game against the league-leading Rangers.

"Bondra worked hard for every one of those goals and he deserved them," said Tampa Bay center Adam Creighton. "He was the best player on the ice. I've seen [Wayne] Gretzky have nights like this and Mario [Lemieux] have nights like this. It was definitely his night."

Bondra joins Bengt Gustafsson as the only other player in the Capitals' 20-year history to score five goals in a game.

Gustafsson did it 10 years ago, Jan. 8, 1984, against the Flyers.

The NHL record for goals in a game is six by Red Berenson of the St. Louis Blues in 1968.

"I tried to get him the sixth one," said center Dale Hunter, who had assists on three of Bondra's five goals. "I know the NHL record is six and he almost got the sixth, but [Pat] Jablonski made a good save."

Jablonski came into the game at the beginning of the second period in relief of starter Daren Puppa, who suffered a back strain while giving up four goals to Bondra in the first period.

"Bondra, Bondra," the crowd chanted throughout the night.

No one could have been more startled by Bondra's outburst than Bondra. A year ago, he led the Capitals in goals with 37 and points with 85. But this season has been a different story. Countless breakaways have gone unrewarded.

Last night, the frustration ended. Showing patience, speed and skill, Bondra stunned Puppa with four goals on four shots.

Bondra became the 10th player in league history to score four goals in a period with his first-period outburst. Other records included:

* Bondra's first three goals were the fastest in team history, produced in 2:06. The performance broke the record of 3:26 set by Stan Gilbertson on April 6, 1975, Washington's first season.

* His first four goals were the fastest in team history, coming in a 4:12 segment of the first period. Mike Ridley held the old record with four in 11:19.

* Four goals by one player in one period is a Capitals record.

Since Schoenfeld became coach 11 days ago, he has used Bondra on a line with Hunter and Dimitri Khristich.

Last night the line worked to perfection, as Hunter set up three of Bondra's goals and Khristich lent a hand in two others. Shawn Anderson had an assist on the fifth goal.

The Lightning scored first. Craig Berube was called for slashing at 6:16, giving Tampa Bay a power-play opportunity. Thirty-three seconds later, Shawn Chambers, shooting from just inside the blue line, put the puck under Don Beaupre's legs.

Shortly thereafter Bondra went to work, first lifting a wrist shot past Puppa at 14:44.

Then, just 1:15 later, Bondra took a lead pass from Khristich and scored from the left side on a breakaway. At 16:50, Bondra took a shot from the right side that hit the fallen Puppa and trickled into the net.

That gave Bondra a natural hat trick (three consecutive goals). He then capped off his barrage by scoring off a lead pass from Hunter at 18:56. It was the second hat trick of his four-year career.

Does Bondra think he can duplicate his five-goal performance?

"What am I going to say, 'No'? I am going to say yes. We have big game with Rangers Monday. I hope I can do it again then."

Tampa Bay 1 0 2 -- 3

Washington 4 2 0 -- 6

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