Groin pulls sideline Pivonka, Beaupre STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS

May 03, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Before the Washington Capitals can think about overcoming the New York Rangers in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series, they must prove themselves survivors in Game 2 tonight.

If that task seemed hard after Washington's 6-3 Game 1 loss at Madison Square Garden Sunday, it appeared more daunting yesterday.

Washington learned it will be without center Michal Pivonka for at least seven to 10 days with a pulled groin and goalie Don Beaupre, who also suffered a groin pull in Game 1, for at least tonight's game.

Pivonka, who has been superior defensively, also has been the Caps' leading scorer in the postseason, with four goals and four assists.

He was leveled by a brutal check by Jay Wells at the end of a penalty, with about 11 minutes to play in the third period.

"All I can do is ice it and leave it alone for a few days," said Pivonka. "We'll see. But I don't think our team is worse off without me and Calle [Johansson] and Donnie Beaupre. We have a good team, even without us. It's up to everybody. In Game 1, we just didn't play well. Game 2 will be better."

Beaupre, in the net for all four victories against Pittsburgh in the conference quarterfinals, pulled his groin shortly after the second goal Sunday when he fully extended to make a save. He will be evaluated daily.

In the meantime, coach Jim Schoenfeld, who does not announce his goaltender before game day, will chose between rookie Byron Dafoe and Rick Tabaracci. Dafoe played well but lost his two starts against Pittsburgh. Tabaracci has not played since April 9, his 100th NHL game and an 8-4 win over Ottawa.

Tabaracci has been trying to regain his form after his third knee injury and has worked overtime with Schoenfeld during off-day practices since the playoffs began.

He has dressed as a backup for two games, including Sunday's.

"I've been ready for about two or three weeks," said Tabaracci, "and I'll be excited to get the tap on the shoulder [to play] when it comes."

The Caps already were missing defensemen Jim Johnson (knee ligaments) and Johansson, who has a traumatized nerve in his left leg.

Johnson will not be back during this series, and Johansson has shown no improvement since the injury six days ago. He will see neurologist Morton Spinner in Cedarhurst, N.Y., today.

All of it had Schoenfeld slightly subdued but not pessimistic.

"It doesn't do any good to dwell on the things that go wrong," he said yesterday. "The easiest thing is to say, 'Oh, my gosh!' Calle, Pivo, Donnie and Jim are big parts of our team. Pivonka not only provides offense but plays on the penalty-killing team and provides leadership.

"Calle is a 30-minute man. Each of them is important, but someone else has to elevate their games. That's what being a team is."

Because of different roles Pivonka has filled lately, his work load will have to be absorbed by "everyone," Schoenfeld said.

On the defensive side, Johnasson's absence, coupled with that of Johnson, means more ice time for rookies John Slaney and Todd Nelson and eight-year veteran Shawn Anderson.

The Caps also recalled defense man Jason Woolley from Portland.

Anderson is the defenseman who, last December, cleared waivers, chose not to report to Portland and sat out several weeks before reporting when no other NHL team expressed interest.

A day after going to Maine, he was recalled by Washington and has been with the team ever since.

"As the games go on, I think I'll play better and that we'll all play better," Anderson said. "I'm a veteran. I have no excuses -- and I have no room for mistakes."

Schoenfeld speculated that it was wanting to help the team that led Beaupre to keep silent about his injury Sunday.

"Donnie pulled it in the first period, and we didn't find out until after the game -- unfortunately," Schoenfeld said. "I do think it made a difference in the outcome. . . . I can understand his thought process. He's trying to gut it out. He knows he's been the hot goaltender. And he wants to help his team win. I appreciate his heart and effort, but no player does himself a good service by keeping quiet about an injury.

"Telling us would have taken the pressure off him and put the onus on us to make the decision."

Schoenfeld said he "assumes" the groin Beaupre injured is the same one he pulled in Game 4 of the Pittsburgh series.

Beaupre did not return messages left at the team hotel.

It wasn't Beaupre's play in Game 1, however, that caused Washington to lose. The Caps lost because they did not support the puck, did not win the one-on-one battles and did not finish their checks with the same "vigor and zest" that the Rangers did.

New York out-muscled the Caps in their own defensive zone.

"We took ourselves out of the game," said Caps defenseman Joe Reekie. "Now we've got to get back to playing it. We've got people injured, but we've got depth on this team and people have to step up. It's a seven-game series, not a one-game series."


Eastern Conference semifinals

2& (Best of seven; Rangers lead, 1-0)


+ Game 1 -- Rangers 6, Caps 3


Day Site Time TV

Tonight N.Y. 7:38 20

Thursday Wash. 7:38 HTS

Saturday Wash. 7:38 HTS

Monday N.Y.* 7:38 20

May 11 Wash.* 7:38 HTS

May 13 N.Y.* 7:38 20

*-If necessary

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