Blackhawks shut down Capitals, 4-1 Tinordi scores only goal as offense struggles again

November 12, 1995|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- The question the Washington Capitals need to answer during the next few weeks is this: Are they the team that began the season 8-3, or the team that has gone 1-4 in their past five?

Last night, the Capitals played a good, hard-checking team and lost, 4-1, to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Capitals' problem last night was a familiar one: scoring goals. Only defenseman Mark Tinordi could find the net on a night when a sellout crowd of 18,130 filled USAir Arena.

The night before, against the Maple Leafs in Toronto, it was defenseman Joe Reekie who produced the Capitals' only goal in a 6-1 loss.

"It doesn't matter what I say," said coach Jim Schoenfeld. "It only matters what we do. I could say the real Caps are the ones we saw at the start of the season, or someone could say they're the ones we're seeing now.

"If the players wish to have themselves perceived as the team that played the first nine or 10 games, then they have to play like that team."

Last night, the Capitals weren't that team. With Jim Carey making 24 saves, the Capitals gave up a power-play goal to Chicago's Gary Suter with 19 seconds left in the first period, two two-on-one scores to Tony Amonte and Eric Daze and, finally, an open-netter to Joe Murphy.

"It's been sneaking up on us," said Tinordi, who scored for only the second time this season. "Even the last couple of games we won, we had some bad periods or really didn't play as well as we could have and got away with it. It doesn't really hit you that you're doing things wrong. Then you lose a few games, and it's right in your face.

"It's like anything else. If you don't play a team game and play your system, you can't win. You can't have all the breakdowns we've had and still win. It's just not going to happen."

This afternoon, the Capitals will take part in the team's SuperSkills competition here at 2 p.m. Included among the skills is a segment on accurate shooting. The Capitals, no doubt, can use the practice.

Capitals right wing Peter Bondra, who is looking forward to having some fun in the skills competition, had little last night. He his nine-game, point-scoring streak ended and he managed just one shot.

"I was doing a lot of back-checking and I just didn't play my best, that's all," Bondra said. "We didn't shoot enough pucks at the net. We hit glass, we missed the net, we had no one going to the net. All mistakes."

It was left to Tinordi to get Washington in the game with 14:28 left in the third period. The Caps were on their fourth power play of the night and Washington's big defenseman unloaded a blistering shot that went between Kelly Miller's legs and over the shoulder of Chicago goaltender Ed Belfour.

It was Washington's first power-play goal in four tries last night, and their first overall since scoring one against the New York Islanders four games ago. The Caps have just two power-play goals in their last 33 attempts.

"It would be good if we could get an early lead," said Caps center Joe Juneau. "It would be nice to go ahead instead of falling behind because we're struggling defensively and our power play isn't going.

"But there is no reason to panic. We just have to work to get out of it. It's kind of funny. With the team we had early on, everyone put us last. Then we had a good start without some of our better players. Now we're supposed to be a better team, and we're a worse team.

"I think we just have to know you can't beat guys end-to-end, one-on-one. It's just a matter of playing smart, playing as a team and playing hard."

Schoenfeld tried to jar his team out of its lackluster rut by shaking up every line, but it was the Blackhawks who played well as a team last night.

Belfour made 22 saves and the Blackhawks played old-time hockey, closing off passing lanes, finishing their checks and clearing the Caps' attack away from in front of the net.

NOTE: The Caps scratched center Kevin Kaminski and defenseman Craig Berube last night. Berube suffered a concussion in Washington's loss in Toronto Friday night.

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