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 got outstanding performances from rookies Stefan Ustorf and Brendan Witt when it mattered last night, but it wasn't enough to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Flyers, whom Washington has been unable to beat since Feb. 2, 1994, in a neutral-site game, had to settle for a 2-2 tie after Philadelphia's John LeClair scored with 16.7 seconds left in regulation.

This was the first overtime game Washington has played this season. The tie, though not exactly what Washington wanted, did stop the bleeding. It was the first time the Capitals had not lost in their past five games, and they are now 9-7-1. The Flyers, 2-4-1 without center Eric Lindros, are 9-6-4.

Washington and Philadelphia managed two shots apiece in the extra period. Washington's best scoring chance came with 3:30 left when Michal Pivonka drove the net one-on-one against Ron Hextall.

Ustorf, who was recalled from the Portland Pirates 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 assisted on Witt's tie-breaking goal with 8:23 left in the final period.

The Capitals put on a gutsy defensive performance from the beginning last night and tightened it up even more when their leading goal-scorer, Peter Bondra, was injured in the first period and left the game. Bondra will be out with a first-degree shoulder separation for the next week to 10 days.

The crowd of 12,412 seemed to be of mixed loyalties, until Witt scored. Then suddenly, the crowd was a Capitals crowd, drowning out the Philadelphia supporters with taunting chants of "Hextall, Hextall."

But when LeClair put the puck past Washington goalie Jim Carey with 16.7 seconds left in regulation, the Flyers' fans were back.

Hextall started for the Flyers and made 15 saves in regulation. Carey stopped 16, but after making the initial save on a shot by Mikael Renberg, could not stop LeClair from sending the game to overtime.

Capitals coach Jim Schoenfeld appeared to think Kelly Miller had cleared the puck from the zone before Kevin Haller pulled it back, but the official was staring right at the puck and signaled it never completely crossed the blue line.

There was no doubt about the intensity last night. A little more than five minutes into the game, Steve Konowalchuk and Keith Jones delivered back-to-back hits on Chris Therien and, moments later, Caps defenseman Witt got into a fight with Flyers left wing Philip Crowe. On the bench, Schoenfeld applauded his team's efforts.

The checking, however, did result in an early positive return, when Ustorf eluded the Flyers' defense for an unassisted blast that squeezed between Hextall and the near post, hit the far post and ricocheted into the net for a 1-0 lead with 5:45 gone.

NOTES: 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. . . . Beginning Tuesday, fans will be able to record their play-by-play and commentary for half of a period of any home game for $30 per person or $45 for a team of two, with each participant receiving a videotape. Fans wishing to make reservations should call (301) 350-3400, Ext. 1018.

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