Caps go for clincher tonight

April 27, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- The Washington Capitals aren't trying to fool anybody. It is a team that is very aware of where it is and what it has to do.

The Capitals are the only NHL team to lose two playoff series after having a three games to one lead and know the bitterness of falling short.

Washington, in position to knock out the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, is still in position to deliver the blow tonight in Game 6.

"No one said it would be easy," said Capitals goalie Don Beaupre, who has been in net for the three Washington victories. "No one said how many games we'd do it in. To have beaten them in three straight would have been tough.

"But we're going to do it."

The Capitals met for nearly an hour and a half with coach Jim Schoenfeld yesterday to review film of Monday's 3-2 loss and emerged with determined faces.

"We know exactly what we did in Game 5 and exactly what we have to do," said Beaupre. "We're going into Game 6 with a lot of confidence."

Said veteran center Dave Poulin: "All we have to do is execute."

Schoenfeld offered a short list of sins that cost the Capitals victory in Game 5:

* The Capitals lacked "a mental or emotional edge."

* They didn't initiate enough speed or aggression.

* They used poor judgment with the puck in the neutral zone.

* They didn't finish their checks in the neutral zone.

"I don't know why," Schoenfeld said. "You'd think with what's at stake they would have. But there has been a lot of stress and strain. Maybe you have a game like that, get sand kicked in your face and get back to playing your game.

"It doesn't matter why they didn't do those things, so long as they get back to doing them."

The Capitals took the loss hard. After the game, the locker room was empty, as players disappeared to an off-limits area and were in no hurry to re-emerge to answer questions.

Yesterday, they were answering questions again, although none enjoyed questions about 3-1 series leads lost.

Schoenfeld claimed "to know little about the Capitals history and could care less."

Poulin, who said he went through a similar situation when he went to Boston and became part of the Boston-Montreal rivalry that the Canadiens had dominated since 1925, considers such history interesting but meaningless.

"When I was there, we beat Montreal three years straight," he said. "It slides right off me, and I'm going to help make sure it slides off everyone else. You learn from history, but you don't let it be a factor in the present.

"This is 1994. We're not living in the past. We're not affected by the ghosts of playoffs past. Throw the ghosts out the window."

Though Schoenfeld insists he has not made his goaltending decision for tonight, the obvious choice is Beaupre, the winner of Games 1, 3 and 4.

"I may be the most well-rested player on the team," Beaupre said, smiling.

Beaupre has been here before. He was here in 1992, when the Capitals last lost a 3-1 lead to the Penguins.

"Once we got up 3-1 in this series, we knew there would be more pressure to prove it's not like before," he said. "We've had it thrown in our faces. Some guys weren't here and it doesn't matter to them.

"But to the rest of us, inside me, it's created more of a feeling of determination. If I play, it's an opportunity to be on the winning end of the series. There is no doubt how good that would feel."

CAPITALS TONIGHT

Eastern Conference

quarterfinal series

Opponent: Pittsburgh Penguins

Site: USAir Arena, Landover

Time: 7:38

TV/Radio: HTS/WMAL (630 AM)

Tickets: 4,500 available

Outlook: The Capitals reported that C Dale Hunter (hip flexor) skated and looked stronger yesterday, but is still day-to-day, RW Pat Peake (ankle) didn't skate yesterday but could play tonight and also is day-to-day, and D Jim Johnson (knee ligaments) is out. Pittsburgh reported no injuries.

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