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 their game against the New York Rangers last night. Misfortune, brilliance and disappointment were all on view before a soldout 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 in what used to be known as a "barn burner," and perhaps still is.

The Capitals played brilliantly to forge a 4-2 lead, helped by an outstanding relief performance by goalie Olie Kolzig, a strong defensive effort led by Mark Tinordi, a hat trick by Steve Konowalchuk -- the second of his career and season -- and a goal by Joe Juneau.

But with 12:12 to go, the Rangers began their comeback with a Bruce Driver goal. At 7:02, Darren Langdon tied it to force overtime.

Washington came up with an early burst in the extra period, but could not score. In the Washington zone at 3:42, Ulf Samuelsson hit the post. With 8.8 seconds left, Dale Hunter did the same at the Rangers' net. The game remained tied.

Washington goalie Jim Carey left the game having given up two goals on three shots in two minutes. Kolzig then made 35 of 37 saves. Glenn Healy, playing for the injured Mike Richter, stopped 35 of 39 shots.

The Capitals saw this game take a potentially disastrous turn 48 seconds after it began.

At the same time Peter Bondra was breaking free to go in one-on-one and beat Healy for a quick opening goal, Caps defenseman Joe Reekie was being called for cross checking.

The penalty wiped out what would have been a Washington lead and put the Rangers on the power play. Forty-seconds later, New York was on the scoreboard when Brian Leetch's shot from the point was deflected past Carey for a 1-0 lead.

Just 11 seconds later, Ian Laperriere took a wide-open shot in the slot that went past Carey, who caught only air with his raised glove. The Rangers led 2-0 and Washington coach Jim Schoenfeld, who has started Carey in 22 of the last 24 games and six straight, pulled his No. 1 goalie and sent Kolzig into the net.

Kolzig was immediately tested by New York, and made a great save against Leetch, who was shooting from the slot.

The entire game changed in the second period. The Capitals came out as if they were being chased by lions. Konowalchuk scored four seconds after a power play ended at 14:44.

Washington tied the game 42 seconds after Konowalchuk's first goal when defenseman Tinordi made a smart decision and a brilliant pass. The Caps' big defenseman had received the puck from Kelly Miller along the left boards and looked to shoot.

But instead of firing, he held the puck and then held it longer, as the Rangers' defense came toward him. Then, at the last moment, he sent a perfect pass to Konowalchuk at the edge of the crease for the put-away.

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