Capitals shrug off Blues, win third straight, 4-3

February 11, 1994|By Keith Schildroth | Keith Schildroth,Special to The Sun

ST. LOUIS -- Washington defenseman Al Iafrate scored two goals last night to help the Capitals defeat the St. Louis Blues, 4-3, at The Arena.

The victory was the third straight for the Capitals, who are 6-1 in their past seven games.

Iafrate's second goal of the game gave the Capitals a 4-2 lead at 13:56 of the third period. With Blues defenseman Rick Zombo screening the goalie, Iafrate hit a slap shot through goalie Jim Hrivnak's legs.

Brendan Shanahan scored at 19:40 to cut the lead to 4-3.

"The Blues came out in the third period and scored bang bang but we didn't fold or panic," said Jim Schoenfeld, who is 6-2 since taking over as Capitals coach. "That shows a lot of character in this team. I'm looking for physical and mental improvements, a little bit of something everyday and I think we got some of that tonight."

Down 2-0, the Blues got back into the game just 41 seconds into the third period when Denny Felsner scored his first goal of the year.

Felsner took a pass from Steve Duchesne and beat Callie Johanson near center ice and scored on a backhand under Capitals goalie Rick Tabaracci.

Philippe Bozon scored his eighth of the season and tied the game at 2 for the Blues when he beat Tabaracci from behind the net on a wrap around at 3:42.

Sylvain Cote took advantage of sloppy play from Blues defensemen Murray Baron and Duchesne when the two couldn't clear the puck. Cote scored on a wrist shot from the left circle for a 3-2 lead at 7:47.

The Capitals nursed a 1-0 lead late into the second period. Peter Bondra made it 2-0 with his 21st goal of the season into the lower right corner at 14:08. The play was started when Michal Pivonka passed behind the net to Craig Berube, who hit Bondra.

Bondra had a breakaway with 2:10 left in the period but Hrivnak made a sliding save.

The Blues were all over Tabaracci in the opening minutes of the second period. Dave Mackey tested Tabaracci with a slap shot from the right circle at 16:41 and three straight slap shots from Brown, Craig Janney and Zombo in a span of seconds at 13:40.

Tabaracci finished with 32 saves.

"He had a lot of great saves, some key saves, one on Brett Hull in the first period, a quick shot that he got," said Schoenfeld. "He really played a good game. You don't win in the NHL without a good goaltender."

Schoenfeld was pleased with the Capitals' penalty killing. The Blue failed to capitalize on two power-play chances.

5l "We knew coming in that the Blues had one of the best power-plays in the league," he said. "We had our hands full with them, they keep coming at you, swarming. It takes commitment and we had that. We didn't fold up when they were swarming us."

Tabaracci credited Schoenfeld with giving the Capitals a mental boost.

"We have showed some signs that we are a good hockey team," he said. "We had a big win over the New York Rangers and now this one over the Blues. You get a different person, a different aspect. He wants us to play smart hockey."

Iafrate opened the scoring with his sixth goal of the season at 18:35 when he picked up the puck along the left boards and beat Hrivnak to the short side.

Dimitri Khristich tested Hrivnak early deflecting a shot at 14:18 that the Blues goalie just kicked wide. Minutes later, Khristich fired a wrist shot just outside the crease that Hrivnak smothered.

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