Devils keep Capitals hurting, 3-1 Injuries playing havoc with Washington lineup

January 07, 1996|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Any time the Washington Capitals are playing and the Peter Bondra line is out on the ice without Bondra, you can bet something isn't going right for the Capitals.

And nothing was last night, as the New Jersey Devils forechecked their way to a 3-1 victory.

But who knew how bad it really was?

Bondra wasn't on the ice to start the game not because he was benched for his play -- which he said after the game "is not good like it was" -- or because he was sick, but because he had lost the edge of his skate and had to send it back to be resharpened.

As it turned out, Bondra's seat on the bench was just one of several mysteries last night, and the Capitals lost for the second time in three games.

Pat Peake was late coming out for the second period because his skate broke. The reason Washington coach Jim Schoenfeld shook up the Bondra line at the start of the game, subbing Kelly Miller for Keith Jones, was pure necessity. Jones, it turns out, is suffering from bad stomach cramping.

"It hasn't gone away, and now it's hurting all the way down into my groin," Jones said. "I don't know if there's infection in there or what. We're waiting for the tests."

Schoenfeld said his team "is down to the bare bones" with five forwards out of the lineup. Center Stefan Ustorf pulled a hamstring during pre-game warm-ups.

"Tonight, we had players who were willing, but not enough who were able," Schoenfeld said.

It was one thing after another. But what hurt Washington more than the injuries and the broken equipment was the scoring of Bill Guerin (two goals) and the goaltending of Martin Brodeur, who played like the defending Stanley Cup champion he is, making 19 saves.

The only shot that eluded him came off the stick of Joe Juneau, who scored unassisted with a bouncing shot that beat defenseman Jason Smith and bounded over Brodeur's glove.

Juneau also went down hard in this game, when he collided with Valeri Zelepukin in the second period and suffered a knee bruise with 2:23 to play. He was helped from the ice, but returned to play the third period.

Schoenfeld said it was one more potential problem to keep an eye on. "You never know about second-day swelling," he said.

With Jones sick, Juneau bruised, Ustorf injured, Jim Johnson and Mike Eagles already hurt and Craig Berube still another game away from serving his 10-game suspension, the Caps said they will call up rookie Jason Allison from AHL Portland for tomorrow's game against the New York Rangers.

Last night's game was the first of the season between Washington and the Devils. The result, however, was the same as last season, when New Jersey was 3-0-1 against the Caps.

And the game was played pretty much the same by two teams of similar styles. It was strong defense against strong defense. The team with the best goal-scoring luck wins, and last night at the newly named Continental Airlines Arena, the goal-scoring luck belonged to New Jersey.

New Jersey got its first goal at 12:25 of the first period, when rookie Reid Simpson beat Jim Carey, who returned to the net after being pulled from Friday's 4-4 tie with the Rangers.

Guerin got the first of his two goals 24 seconds later, when he went in alone on the Caps goalie.

"This was probably a kind of boring game to watch," said Schoenfeld. "They don't give you much space, and you've got to make up your mind to fight for every inch of ice. They're a team that, if they have a two-goal lead, it is going to be a big job coming back. Tonight, we were unable to do it."

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