Penguins edge Caps, extend series

April 26, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Washington Capitals coach Jim Schoenfeld gave his team some terrific advice before last night's game. Unfortunately for them, the Capitals didn't take it enough to heart.

"Never lift your foot off a snake," Schoenfeld wrote on the locker-room blackboard.

But the Capitals, needing one victory to eliminate the Pittsburgh Penguins from the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, lifted -- or were forced to lift -- and Game 6 will be tomorrow in the best-of-seven series.

The Penguins made sure of that last night with a 3-2 victory at the Civic Arena before a crowd of 15,044.

"This is playoff hockey," said Pittsburgh coach Ed Johnston. "They don't give too many chances, and we have to take whatever they give us. I don't know if we won the battle, but we seemed to have a little more room to maneuver."

Keven Stevens and Jaromir Jagr came up with their first two goals of the series, and goalie Tom Barrasso came up big when the Penguins needed him most.

All of it keyed a Penguins rally, staved off elimination and returned the series to Landover.

"It's frustrating," said Washington's rookie goalie, Byron Dafoe, who has been in net for both Capitals losses. "But I don't think it changes anything. I'm sure Donnie [Beaupre] will play and we'll go after it again."

The Capitals have lost two playoff series after being up 3-1 but continued to insist that this loss will add no more pressure.

"I felt great pressure [last night]," Schoenfeld said. "I don't think we can feel more. We didn't want to play a Game 6. We wanted to end it here. But it's just one game. So now we'll go back and win it at home."

Washington overcame a 1-0 Penguins lead and forged ahead 2-1 in the second period on goals by Mike Ridley and Kevin Hatcher.

With 11:45 to play in the second period, the Capitals had a terrific chance to make it 3-1. But that's when Barrasso came up big, lying on his back.

Barrasso had played four tremendous games in this series, but before last night, he had one win to show for it. Johston said going into the game, the Penguins "have to get a life from someone." And at 11:45, it was Barrasso.

He had gone down to block a shot by Steve Konowalchuk, but the puck had bounced free, and there was Konowalchuk, almost on top of him, lifting the puck over his body.

"I knew he was down, and I tried knocking it over his body," Konowalchuk said. "I was hoping it would go in."

Barrasso rolled toward his net, grasping for the puck, and finally gathered it in on top of his belly.

"A goal there would have made it 3-1," said Schoenfeld. "It would have been a luxury. Tommy played a whale of a game. Early on, we got a lot of shots but not enough traffic, and he got a good look at them.

"And then later, on Kono's try, he made the initial save and then smothered it."

Seven minutes later, Stevens scored his first goal of the playoffs to tie the score. And then, with 10:29 left in the game, Jagr got loose on a break away, and blasted home the game winner for his first goal.

The Capitals were handed a four-minute power play with 11:06 gone in the third period, when Kjell Samuelsson was called for a double-minor high-sticking penalty, but the Caps spent most of it just trying to get in the Penguins zone.

"We've got to score on our chances," said Caps defenseman Calle Johansson. "We had Kono's chance. [Peter] Bondra hit the crossbar. We've got to score them. We're not going to get 15 great chances. We're going to get five or six, and we've got to net three or four of them.

"But now, we've got to just forget it and look to Wednesday."

Washington made several errors in the neutral zone last night that resulted in give-aways and they allowed the Penguins to find room to skate.

"I think both teams had good efforts," said Schoenfeld. "They just scored the third goal before we did. But we did make some bad decisions and got careless. When you get careless against the Penguins, you wind up losing the hockey game."

NOTES: Pat Peake (ankle) limped out of the arena last night, not knowing if he'd be able to skate today. "I blocked a shot, and the puck hit my ankle," he said, still in obvious pain. "We'll just have to wait and see."

COUNT 'EM 60 SAVES

Montreal goalie Patrick Roy -- hospitalized last week because of appendicitis -- makes 60 saves in leading the Canadiens past the Boston Bruins in overtime, 2-1, for a three-games-to-two lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series.

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