Caps can't hold lead, fall again

April 07, 1994|By Bernard Potvin | Bernard Potvin,Special to The Sun

OTTAWA -- Overtime wasn't on the minds of the Washington Capitals last night.

They wish they had one know.

After letting one get away against the New York Islanders on Tuesday, the Capitals were looking for a win to get back on track as the regular season comes to a close.

But give the Ottawa Senators, the worst team in the NHL, two consecutive wins at home, and the opportunity to win number three looks like Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The result? Add one to the loss column for the Capitals as they let another game slip away, 6-5, at the Ottawa Civic Center in front of 10,458 fans.

The loss was the third in a row for the Capitals, who are three points ahead of Florida, four ahead of the New York Islanders and six ahead of Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference race for the final two playoff spots.

Dan Quinn's fifth goal of the season out of a pile-up in front of Caps goalie Rick Tabaracci with just over five minutes left in the game did in the Caps and left coach Jim Schoenfeld searching for answers to a lot of questions.

He refused to speak with the media after Tuesday's loss. Last night he was seen throwing a table against a wall following the game.

"I think we made a lot of mistakes collectively," said Schoenfeld. "I don't think it would do any good critiquing the team in public.

"We're awake. We're not asleep. We're still in the playoffs. We will advance when we get in," he said.

The Caps blew a 5-3 lead in the third period thanks to three goals by the Senators, who were sparked by a four-point performance by Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Alexei Yashin.

Tabaracci made his first start since Feb. 20, and it may have been premature.

"It doesn't get any worse than that," he said. "If we're going to win hockey games, I've got to give this team a better goaltender than they got tonight," he said.

Even though it was the last-place Senators, Kevin Hatcher said the Caps didn't take them lightly.

"You just got to play 60 minutes every night. It doesn't matter who you're playing. You can't play just 58," he said.

Washington out-shot Ottawa, 13-3, in the second period and scored two unanswered goals, but might have doubled that count if not for some excellent work by Senators goalie Craig Billington. Sylvain Cote scored with a rising shot from the slot at 4:48 and Hatcher tied the game with a power-play slap shot at 11:05.

Mike Ridley gave the Capitals their first lead just 63 seconds into the third period and Cote scored a short-handed goal at 5:41 when the puck entered Ottawa's net off his skate as he stood in the crease.

From then on, though, the game belonged to the Senators.

"This was a little bump in the road -- actually a big bump, a bigger bump than we would like, but it's nothing we can't overcome," said Schoenfeld.

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