Caps find offense, drop Islanders

January 28, 1995|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- For the Washington Capitals, home is where the goals are.

The team that produced just two goals on 100 shots in its first three games looked like a goal-scoring machine against the New York Islanders last night, turning in a 5-2 victory, its first of the season.

Rookie Jason Allison started the scoring parade with a power-play goal in the first period, and veterans Dimitri Khristich, Sylvain Cote, Keith Jones and Peter Bondra added to it.

"I think we had a lot of great chances in our first three games on the road," said team captain Dale Hunter, who got his 600th NHL assist last night. "We just didn't finish. Tonight, everything we shot went in, and it's about time our hard work paid off."

When Bondra, who has been playing hard with even less to show for it than many of his teammates, scored Washington's final goal 1:34 into the third period, it was something of an exclamation point on a night when every Capitals player seemed in step with the other.

And it was a nice reward for rookie goalie Olie Kolzig, who had played well enough to win in the Capitals' first three games, but had to wait until last night to get a victory. That might not have been a bad thing either, because 17,432 fans were in USAir Arena to see it.

"It did take some pressure off," said Kolzig, who was playing in his 14th NHL game. "I found out I can win in the NHL. And it was big for our team too, to finally get a win."

Kolzig, whose goals-against average was a measly 2.28, didn't allow the Islanders anything until Derek King scored a power-play goal with 33 seconds left in the second period. The Islanders' second goal came with 4:44 gone in the third, when Benoit Hogue also scored with the man advantage.

Washington center Joe Juneau, who assisted on two goals last night -- including the game-winner by Cote -- credited the crowd with helping the Caps win.

"It was like playing in the Boston Garden tonight," he said. "The place was packed and there weren't 2,000 cheering for the Islanders like they did for Pittsburgh last year. They just proved they're great fans."

The Capitals (1-2-1) will next face those Pittsburgh Penguins here at noon tomorrow.

"Our team was finally rewarded for effort," said Capitals coach Jim Schoenfeld. "I think we played stronger games in Hartford and Montreal, but the puck went in the net here and now they feel more confident shooting and it should continue."

It was a game with many highlights.

There were big hits, like the one Mark Tinordi put on Mick Vukota when the Caps' defenseman came to the defense of Hunter. Tinordi might have gotten the worst of the exchange -- needing 10 stitches over his right eye from the ensuing fight and another two under it when he later got hit by a puck -- but he set the tone for the evening.

There were big saves, 24 by Kolzig, and plenty by the Caps' penalty killers. They killed four of six New York power plays, including one five-minute major that kept the momentum on the Capitals' side in the first period.

And there were big goals too, particularly Allison's on the power play.

Making his season debut, Allison scored Washington's first goal of the year in USAir Arena, and gave his team its first lead of the season at 12:20 of the opening period.

The Caps had been struggling on the power play, cashing in for just two goals on 18 tries for a less-than-inspiring 11.1 percent success rate. Although they were just 1-for-9 last night, it was a timely one.

Yesterday morning, at the pre-game skate, Schoenfeld spent the session concentrating on the special teams and inserted Allison into the lineup in hopes that last season's Canadian Hockey Player of the Year could add some punch to the unit.

And Allison, who had 55 goals and 142 points in 56 games while playing for London of the Ontario Hockey League, did just that on his first opportunity.

The play developed when Cote started up ice and passed off to Juneau, who found Allison to his right.

Allison edged in and swept the puck inside the far post.

Just 1:18 later, Craig Berube was given a game-misconduct and the five-minute major for checking from behind, and put the Islanders in position to tie the game.

NOTE: Rookie Capitals defenseman Ken Klee suffered a separated left shoulder in the second period when he collided with the Islanders' Hogue. Klee is expected to miss two to four weeks.

NY Islanders .. 0 .. 1 .. 1 .. -- .. 2

Washington .... 2 .. 2 .. 1 .. -- .. 5

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