Lightning strikes down Caps, 4-3

March 02, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- The Washington Capitals were sitting pretty. One point away from inching into sixth place in the Eastern Conference and facing a Tampa Bay team 10 games under .500.

But little went right here last night. Goalie Don Beaupre gave up four goals and the Capitals, who have had to scratch and claw for nearly every goal this season, had two disallowed and could ** not come up with enough that counted to pull this one out.

The Lightning walked out of USAir Arena with a 4-3 victory. It was Tampa Bay's first win ever against Washington, and a great disappointment to the 10,271 fans who braved the snow to be here.

It was a greater disappointment to Washington coach Jim Schoenfeld, who didn't like anything, except perhaps the effort of Beaupre, who was denied his 250th NHL victory.

"We didn't respect our opponent and any time you do that, you're asking for a loss," said Schoenfeld. "There was effort but it was contrived effort.

"A game like this is totally unexpected and totally unacceptable."

Schoenfeld added: "I'm not going to spank anybody," but he did move up today's practice two hours.

The Capitals have been winning because they eliminate odd-man rushes, play sound defense and then take advantage of as many scoring chances as they can.

Last night, Beaupre spent much of the night looking at odd-man rushes. After Denis Savard and Danton Cole scored to put

Tampa up 2-0 in the first period, Schoenfeld pulled Beaupre for 53 seconds. Not, it turned out, to reprimand Beaupre, but to wake up the rest of the team.

"Here's a guy that's been playing very well and we're not giving him any support," Schoenfeld said. "I reminded them that we play this game for each other, not for ourselves and here's a guy doing remarkably well for our team, and we're letting him down on an important night."

Schoenfeld said the team also has benefited from being told opposing goaltenders' strengths and weaknesses. But last night, against Daren Puppa, the Capitals evidently did not listen.

"What's the use of being told the weaknesses if you're not going to exploit them?" Schoenfeld asked in irritation.

"You hope the lesson is learned. It was a costly lesson. It cost us two points. It was a bad loss."

Tampa Bay had been embarrassed here a month ago, 6-3, as Washington's Peter Bondra tied the Capitals' all-time single-game scoring record with five goals, four of them in NHL-record time.

This time, Puppa played an excellent game, making 37 saves. But he wasn't always in position and the Capitals let many chances get away.

Kevin Hatcher looked at a near-open net and missed. Bondra finally put the puck in the net with 8:26 left, seemingly closing the margin to 4-3. But the officials wiped it off, saying the whistle already had blown the play dead.

A goal by Todd Krygier was disallowed with 5:07 left in the second. But with 3:50 left, Dale Hunter and Sylvain Cote teamed up to get thepuck to Randy Burridge at the side of the Tampa Bay net and he poked it in for a goal that counted to close within 4-3.

Beaupre then made tremendous back-to-back, one-on-one saves to keep the Capitals' hopes alive, but they couldn't eke out the tying goal.

The Capitals were tied at 2 after one period, getting goals from Alan May and Mike Ridley, but that would be it until Burridge scored.

In between, the Lightning struck for two goals by Chris Gratton and Gerard Gallant and that was good enough for the win.

"It looked like we took a sigh of relief at the end of the first period and that was that," said May. "We played really bad in the second period. We got flat and gave up two-on-one breaks all night long."

NOTES: May could still find a smile after the game. "Did I tell you I'm still single?" he said. "I'm going to send my photo to Nancy Kerrigan. I expect to hear a reply very soon." . . . Ridley has now scored 20-plus goals in each of nine straight seasons, and never less than 22 in his NHL career. Only 14 other players have recorded 20-plus goals in each of their past eight seasons.

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