Flyers tie Caps on goal with 17 seconds left Ustorf, Witt score, but game ends 2-2

November 15, 1995|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- The Washington Capitals lost their leading goal scorer, Peter Bondra, for up to 10 days last night, but got outstanding performances from rookies Stefan Ustorf and Brendan Witt and tied the Philadelphia Flyers, 2-2.

It was the first time Washington had not lost to the Flyers since a controversial play by Bondra resulted in the same outcome here last March.

Hard hits and controversy appear to be the name of the game when the Capitals and Flyers play, and last night, in front of a boisterous crowd of 12,412 at USAir Arena, the tradition continued.

The Capitals seemed on their way to victory with a 2-1 lead in the final minute of regulation, but then a controversial play led to a Philadelphia goal by John LeClair with 16.7 seconds left.

"The puck was definitely out of the zone," said Kelly Miller, who tried to clear the Flyers' attack along the blue line. "I don't know if I kept it in the zone," said Flyers defenseman Kevin Haller, who started the scoring play. "I think it rolled out a little bit."

It was an ongoing debate, but linesman Greg Devorski was just four feet from the play and he made the instant call that the puck was still in play. Later, referee Dan Marouelli said the call was "substantiated" by the video goal judge.

"The information that we got from him after the conclusion of the hockey game, was that that puck never came completely out of the zone," Marouelli said. "What has to be mentioned here is that the puck has to completely come out of the zone -- outside the edge of the blue line. That was never the case."

And so, Mikael Renberg drove in and took the first shot that Capitals goalie Jim Carey stopped and then LeClair scooped up the rebound and beat Carey to his right side for the 2-2 tie.

"It's not a good tie," said Carey, who made 18 saves, including two in overtime. "We played hard and you'd like to win when you're ahead in the last 20 seconds. But we didn't lose and now we just have to look ahead."

This was the first overtime game of the season for Washington, which stopped a four-game losing streak and improved its record to 9-7-1. The Flyers are 9-6-4.

"I thought we played a great, hard game," said Capitals coach Jim Schoenfeld. "But this is when a bad break will get you. When you dig yourself a hole and you're climbing out of it, this is when it will happen. We fought through it. We lost a point, but we gained one, too, and we hadn't done that for a while."

Schoenfeld said the team has to generate more offense, and losing Bondra won't help. But the play of Ustorf was encouraging.

Ustorf, who was recalled from Portland of the American Hockey League four days ago, scored Washington's first goal and only the second of his pro career, with 5:45 gone in the first period. He then assisted on Witt's tie-breaking goal with 8:23 left in the third.

"Things were just going my way," said Ustorf. "I was playing on a line with Kono [Steve Konowalchuk] and [Keith] Jones and they made it easy for me to adjust. . . . And you know, when one of your top guys goes out like Peter, you know you have to step it up a notch and that's what everybody did and it worked out good -- until the last 15 seconds."

NOTE: The Capitals ask fans to donate a nonperishable food item Friday at the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. In return for helping the Capital Area Community Food Bank, each fan will receive a coupon for one ticket to the Nov. 24 game against Tampa Bay.

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