Caps usher out drought in Chi. Stadium finale

April 01, 1994|By Daryl Van Schouwen | Daryl Van Schouwen,Special to The Sun

CHICAGO -- "Remember the Roar" is the the Chicago Blackhawks' slogan in their final season at historic Chicago Stadium. The Washington Capitals, who had lost their past six games here dating back to 1988, had done their share to keep the "Madhouse on Madison Street" roaring.

But the Capitals said goodbye to a silent stadium last night, quieting a sellout crowd of 17,569 with three first-period goals and handing the Blackhawks a 6-3 defeat.

"Chicago Stadium . . . you grow up watching it on 'Hockey Night' and dreaming you'll play there," said goaltender Byron Dafoe, who notched his first NHL victory. "I had butterflies. This is the best place to get a win. It's so historic."

The Capitals (35-32-10), who increased their seventh-place lead to three points over the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference playoff chase, improved to 10-4-1 in their past 15 games away from USAir Arena while extending the Blackhawks' winless streak to six games.

Keith Jones scored two goals, Joe Juneau had a goal and an assist and Pat Peake and John Slaney each had two assists for the Caps, who led 6-1 before the Blackhawks' Jeremy Roenick beat Dafoe for his 44th and 45th goals late in the third period.

"I felt bad for Byron," said Capitals coach Jim Schoenfeld, who gave Don Beaupre a night off at home. "I wanted to see him have the one goal against. He looked confident, he handled the puck well, he squared the shooters and he was down and up in a hurry."

The Capitals gave Dafoe a 3-0 lead in a hurry, getting first-period goals from Sylvain Cote, Juneau and Jones -- who added another goal in the closing seconds of the second period to give the Caps a 5-1 lead. Washington held the Blackhawks (35-34-9) to five shots in the first period.

Dafoe, who had played only 39 minutes in relief in Dallas on March 18 in addition to his only previous start, a 3-0 defeat to the Philadelphia Flyers in October, had to turn aside 11 shots in the first two periods.

Cote and Michal Pivonka set the tone when Cote scored his 14th goal 4:36 into the game. Standing alone in front of the Blackhawks net, he beat goalie Jeff Hackett after taking a backhand feed from Pivonka, who dug out the puck along the boards.

"We played with determination," said Schoenfeld, whose Capitals are 15-9-6 since Schoenfeld took over as coach Jan. 27. "We made up our mind that the team that won the one-on-one battles would win the game."

Juneau (18 goals) netted his fourth goal in five games as a Capital, a power-play effort at 9:36 assisted by Peake and Pivonka, to make it 2-0.

Jones' power-play goal at 16:39 prompted Blackhawks coach Darryl Sutter to give goaltender Christian Soucy his NHL debut. But Soucy, recalled from Indianapolis of the International Hockey League while Ed Belfour recovers from a hip injury, went back to the bench to start the second period.

Blackhawks fans, renowned for making the stadium the loudest building in the NHL, booed the Blackhawks as they went off the ice trailing 5-1 after two periods.

Roenick, who became the first Blackhawk to score 100 points in three consecutive seasons, brought back the cheers. But by then the stadium was half-empty.

"We're getting down the stretch and we're rounding into top-notch form," Cote said. "We played a smart game tonight."

CAPITALS TONIGHT

Opponent: New Jersey Devils

Site: USAir Arena, Landover

Time: 8:05

TV: HTS

Radio: WMAL (630 AM)

Tickets: 2,500 available

Outlook: The Devils are 6-0-1 in their past seven, 13-1-3 in their past 17 and 15-2-4 in their past 21. New Jersey is led by Scott Stevens, who has the best plus-minus ratio in the league at plus 51, and Stephane Richer, who has 12 goals and four assists in his last 13 games. G Don Beaupre will be back in net for Washington. G Rick Tabaracci (sprained knee) and D Shawn Anderson (abdominal strain) are out for Washington. New Jersey reports D Ken Daneyko (shoulder separation) is out.

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