Islanders edge Caps in OT, 4-3

April 06, 1994|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- The pressure of the fight for an Eastern Conference playoff bid finally got to Washington Capitals coach Jim Schoenfeld last night at the USAir Arena.

Schoenfeld refused to speak to the media after the fading Capitals blew a 2-0 third-period lead and lost to the New York Islanders, 4-3, in overtime before a crowd of 11,032.

The loss was the second straight for Washington (36-34-10 for 82 points) and further delayed the Capitals' clinching of a playoff spot.

It was the first time that Washington has lost this season when it had been leading after the second period. The Capitals are 24-1-4 when they have a second-period advantage.

Adding to the misery for Washington last night was the loss of defenseman Jim Johnson for six weeks with a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

Johnson injured the knee on an interference call against him in the first period.

The Capitals are only three points ahead of the Florida Panthers (32-33-15 for 79 points), who gained a point last night on Washington by tying Quebec.

Washington and Florida currently hold down the final two playoff berths, but the Islanders (33-35-11 for 77 points) moved to within two points of the Panthers and five of the Capitals with their emotional win.

Washington and Florida have four games to play, and New York has five games remaining.

"Everything disintegrated for us tonight," Capitals spokesman Ed Quinlan said in explaining why Schoenfeld preferred not to talk to the media.

A look of total frustration was on Schoenfeld's face after Ray Ferraro had tied the game at 3 with 43 seconds left in regulation.

Ferraro knocked in the rebound of a Benoit Hogue shot, stealing a win away from the Capitals and sending the game into overtime.

Again in overtime, it was Hogue and Ferraro who teamed up to score, ending the game with 1:26 left in the five-minute overtime.

Hogue took a pass from Ferraro and skated in on Washington goaltender Don Beaupre to score from point-blank range.

The Islanders celebrated wildly in back of the net, the Washington fans booed and the Capitals trudged off the ice.

"It's a sick feeling for us to lose this way," said Kelly Miller, who had given his team a 2-0 lead with a short-handed goal at 2:55 of the third period. "We had the game in hand. Hopefully we can use the loss to bounce back and have a great game [tonight against Ottawa on the road]."

Two defensive breakdowns in the third period led to goals by Hogue and Pierre Turgeon to tie the game at 2 at 7:26 of the period.

But Michal Pivonka scored on a breakaway at 15:28 of the third period to send the Capitals ahead, 3-2.

Then disaster struck again for Washington.

"It was unbelievable the way we lost this game," said Beaupre, who was superb for more than two periods. "We should have never let it happen. Hogue [on the winning goal] pulled it [shot] back where I was and I slipped a little."

For Ferraro and the Islanders, it was a happy ending to a night that began with a lot of frustration.

hTC "It's no secret that if we're going to make the playoffs, Benny [Hogue] and I have to step up. We have no one to blame but ourselves for being in this position," said Ferraro. "Now we have to play every game just like we did tonight."

CAPITALS TONIGHT

Opponent: Ottawa Senators

Site: Ottawa Civic Center

Time: 7:35

TV: Channel 20

Radio: WITH (1230 AM), WMAL (630 AM)

Outlook: The Capitals are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, and the top eight teams make the playoffs. Ottawa is last in the Eastern Conference and has been eliminated. Washington has the luxury of meeting the Senators in two of its last four regular-season games, tonight on the road and Saturday night at USAir Arena. This is the third meeting of the season between the teams. The Capitals beat the Senators, 6-1, in Ottawa on Dec. 4, and beat them again Dec. 17 at USAir Arena, 11-2.

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