Caps can't hold 2-goal lead as Rangers rally to tie, 4-4 Konowalchuk's 3 goals, Kolzig not quite enough

January 06, 1996|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- The Washington Capitals produced a microcosm of their season in this one game with the New York Rangers last night. Misfortune, brilliance and disappointment all were on view before a sellout crowd at USAir Arena.

A two-goal deficit became a two-goal lead and then a 4-4 tie, as the Capitals earned a point.

"When we got our fourth goal, we stopped playing as aggressively as we had before," said Washington defenseman Mark Tinordi. "It's a good lesson for us to learn. You've got to play aggressively all the time."

The Capitals overcame a 2-0 deficit forged by the Rangers in the first 1:39 of the game to take a 4-2 lead on a hat trick by Steve Konowalchuk -- the second of his career and season -- a goal by Joe Juneau, brilliant relief goaltending by Olie Kolzig (35 saves) and a strong defensive performance led by Tinordi.

The tie ended the Caps' six-game home winning streak, but extended their home unbeaten streak to seven as they hit the road for games in New Jersey against the Devils tonight and in New York on Monday in a rematch with the Rangers.

By then, Rangers center Mark Messier, who suffered a bruise near the ankle when he was struck by a puck in the first period, is expected to be back.

Both teams had chances to score in overtime last night. The Rangers' Ulf Samuelsson hit the post and Konowalchuk had a shot at a fourth goal.

"I'm mad about missing that opportunity to score from Kelly [Miller]," said Konowalchuk. "I had the shot and I missed it. It is disappointing to leave with a tie after coming back for a 4-2 lead. We just sat back at 4-2, that's what hurt us."

Caps coach Jim Schoenfeld said his team played hard all night, but agreed it pulled back after taking the two-goal lead.

"It's what you do," said Schoenfeld. "You tell yourself not to, but you play carefully, dumping it out, dumping it out. And what you're doing is returning possession to the other team. Careful hockey is dangerous hockey.

"But given the way this game started, I think coming out of here with a point is good."

The game started with Peter Bondra apparently scoring after 48 seconds. Only it didn't count because defenseman Joe Reekie had been called for cross-checking.

Did Reekie do it?

"No . . . No," he said.

Tinordi said it was an iffy call, "because to be called for cross-checking, it usually has to be into a guy's back. Joe hit him low, around the side of the hip."

The result was that the Rangers went on the power play and Pat Verbeek redirected a shot by Brian Leetch from the point into the net past Washington's starting goalie, Jim Carey, at 1:28.

At 1:39, Ian Laperriere shot one past Carey's glove.

It was two goals on three shots. Schoenfeld sent in Kolzig.

"It wasn't going our way at that point," said Carey. "It was good for the team when I came out. Olie played good and, when we were up 4-2, I thought we had it."

Capitals tonight

Opponent: New Jersey Devils

Site: Meadowlands Arena.

Time: 7:30

TV/Radio: None/WKDV (1460 AM).

Outlook: The Capitals will get their first look at the defending Stanley Cup-champion New Jersey Devils tonight. The Devils (16-19-4) have struggled at times this season, but are rested for tonight's game. The Caps are not, coming here off last night's tie against the Rangers. Washington LW Craig Berube will serve the ninth game of his 10-game suspension tonight. C Mike Eagles (broken finger), D Jim Johnson (shoulder strain) are out; C Kevin Kaminski (knee) is day-to-day. New Jersey reports D Tommy Albelin (bruised thigh) and RW Jocelyn Lemieux (bruised shoulder) are probable; RW Randy McKay (concussion) is day-to-day.

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