Panthers' first period stops Washington, 3-2 Caps allow only 11 shots, but four-game streak ends

November 04, 1995|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- A crowd of 15,713 finally came out to see what all the commotion over the Washington Capitals was about last night. They left USAir Arena still wondering.

With a chance to overtake the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference, the Capitals saw their four-game winning streak come to a resounding halt with a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers.

Florida goaltender Mark Fitzpatrick made 23 saves to secure the victory, allowing only a first-period goal to Peter Bondra and a third-period goal to defenseman Sergi Gonchar with 2:33 to play.

With the victory, the Panthers did what the Capitals couldn't. Today, for at least one day, Florida (9-4-0) can say it is No. 1 in the East.

"We talked about the opportunity we had to be first in the East before the game," said Capitals center Michal Pivonka, who made a terrific centering pass on Bondra's goal for a 1-1 tie, despite having a defenseman's glove in his face. "Hopefully, there will be other chances through the year.

"Florida is playing as good as anyone in the league right now and it was hard to get any shots on them. We know we have to shoot more on the power play. We know what we have to do. But they just shut us down by not giving us too much time and covering up the rebounds."

The Capitals have had a tendency to allow opposing teams early leads before battling back. Last night, it was three first-period goals on five shots that got by Washington goalie Jim Carey.

The first goal was a good one, as Radek Dvorak simply beat Carey one-on-one. But the second by Robert Svehla, a long-distance number from the blue line, and the third by Rob Niedermayer, whose shot from an impossible angle from along the board hit the inside of Carey's left knee and bounced into the net, were hard to take. And they proved too much to overcome -- despite the fact Washington gave up a franchise-low 11 shots.

Carey was not available for comment after the game.

"It's an opportunity lost -- for the time being," said Capitals coach Jim Schoenfeld. "They had three goals on five shots but only one good scoring chance. I can't be too upset when we allow 11 shots in 60 minutes."

But the Capitals, who are 8-4 and will try to regroup tonight on the road against the New York Islanders, had six power-play opportunities and got nothing against Fitzpatrick, who was playing in place of the dehydrated John Vanbiesbrouck.

The Capitals are now on an 0-for-14 power-play streak.

"I'm pretty disappointed in the people we had on the power play, in all the people we had on the power play," said Schoenfeld, whose power-play units often looked as if they did not know each other. "We thought we could pass through people instead of going around them."

Capitals defenseman Sylvain Cote, who was with defensive partner Joe Reekie on the ice for all three Florida goals, noted the frustration that was building in the Capitals all night.

"We tried short little passes down low," Cote said of the team's work on the power play. "But we had such a hard time creating any opportunities. They play a good system and they play their angles really well."

Capitals center Joe Juneau showed his frustration on the ice, when he did what he considers the unthinkable. While on the power play, he dumped the puck into the attack zone.

"I hate it when guys do that," he has said again and again. "To me, it's just a waste of a lot of hard work, because basically you're giving the puck away. Then you have to go and try to get it back all over again."

The Capitals did keep trying, but last night against the Panthers, it did little good.

Capitals tonight

Opponent: New York Islanders

Site: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.

Time: 7

TV/Radio: Channel 50/WQSI (820 AM), WNAV (1430 AM)

Outlook: The Capitals and Islanders will be playing their second game in two nights. Washington lost, 3-2, at home to Florida, and the Islanders fell, 5-3, at Tampa Bay. Washington C Pat Peake (thyroid cartilage) and Kevin Kaminski (ribs) are out. New York D Scott LaChance (groin) and RW Patrick Flatley (groin) are day-to-day, and D Darius Kasparaitis (knee), D Rich Pilon (wrist) and RW Brad Dalgarno (wrist) are out.

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