Konowalchuk, Bondra score twice to lead Caps

March 19, 1995|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- It could have been a Stanley Cup game, given the intensity, the emotion and the battles fought for every inch of ice. And if the Washington Capitals make it into the playoffs, it may well be because of the two points they earned last night in one of the hardest-fought games of the season.

The game featured fine goaltending at both ends of the ice, with rookie Jim Carey (27 saves) playing veteran Glenn Healy (29 saves) to a virtual standoff for the first 52:59. It also featured some of the hardest checking, and that resulted in some of the worst fighting.

But late in the game, it also featured an amazing offensive performance by Steve Konowalchuk and Peter Bondra, who each finished the night with two goals, that gave the Capitals a 4-1 victory. The score, however, hardly told the story.

"I was due," said Konowalchuk, who had only one goal before last night. "This was a big game in a tight race, and we were coming off one of our worst performances of the season. It was good to be able to score a couple timely goals."

The game had been tied at 1 from the 8:55 mark of the first period. That was when Alex Karpovtsev shot from the point and jumped for joy when the puck bounced off Konowalchuk into the net for the Rangers' only goal of the night.

Later, Konowalchuk, who scored Washington's first goal on a power play, could laugh. "I wish I could get credit for that one. It would give me a hat trick."

But it was enough to get credit for the second one he did score. That one broke the 1-1 tie with 12:59 gone in the third. Then it was left to Bondra, who chased down the puck and scored twice within 1:42. The first time, with 15:34 gone, Bondra's goal was unassisted and gave Washington a 3-1 lead. His second made it 4-1, and, with the Capitals' defensive performance, put the game out of reach.

The Caps are 7-1-1 in their past nine games with Carey in the net.

Last night's victory allowed the Caps to leapfrog into seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

But the game was not without its losses. Rookie center Kevin Kaminski, who was slashed in the first period and got 15 stitches in his forehead between periods, came back in the second to become involved in a huge fight that produced 106 penalty minutes. Kaminski, who was wrestled to the ice bare-chested by linesman Ron Asselstine, learned after the game that he will face a three-game league suspension for abusing the official.

The game was the Capitals' first sellout of the season at USAir Arena.

"We got beat fair and square," said Ranger Mark Messier, who had 11 penalty minutes last night, two short of his season total. "Losing shouldn't sit well with anybody. This game was a dogfight overall, and we haven't competed hard enough lately in order to win. You don't win by accident. You win by hard work and execution."

Which is what the Capitals did most of the night. Washington killed five New York power plays, and they have killed 43 of the past 45 man advantages they've faced.

"This was a playoff game," said Pat Peake, who returned to the lineup despite not knowing if he is fully recovered from mononucleosis. With Calle Johansson, he assisted on Konowalchuk's first goal. "It was gritty and hard-nosed, and there was a lot on the line. It was a big, big win."

Peake found out after the morning skate that he would be in the lineup, even though the results of Friday's blood test are unknown.

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