Rangers rout Caps, 6-1, with five power-play goals Victory ends New York's 5-game winless streak

March 10, 1996|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- In the long run, the Washington Capitals may benefit from having had the previous five days off. But yesterday, the only apparent result was that the previously hot Capitals had gone cold, as the New York Rangersheated up and beat the Capitals, 6-1, at USAir Arena.

"We didn't play our brand of hockey, and that's why we were embarrassed on our own ice," said Washington coach Jim Schoenfeld. "What do you want me to say? We were terrible. . . . I can't explain it away. We had a horrendous effort today."

Washington is to play the Tampa Bay Lightning this afternoon in St. Petersburg, Fla. Jim Carey, who is 5-1 with two career shutouts against Tampa Bay, is expected to start against the Lightning, 9-1-1 in its past 11 games and a point ahead of the Caps and New Jersey in fifth place in the Eastern Division.

"They're the same team we've always played," said Carey. "We've got to keep that in mind. We need to go in there and get two points and we'll be ready -- I hope. I know their power play is doing well, but we can't let them do what the Rangers did today."

What the Rangers did was score on five of eight power plays. Alexei Kovalev, Alexander Karpovtsev, Mark Messier and Kovalev, again, scored on four of the Rangers' first five tries.

"We were out of sync," said Kelly Miller, one of Washington's best penalty killers. "We didn't do a good job. I'm not going to make excuses. All we can do now it go to Tampa and make sure we play a lot better than this."

The Rangers' Daniel Lacroix scored at even strength at 4: 57 of the third period to make it 5-0 with his first NHL goal, before Craig Berube could put Washington on the scoreboard with his second goal in three games. And then Ken Gernander, playing in his first NHL game, scored the Rangers' fifth power-play goal.

All of it combined to end New York's five-game winless streak, its lTC longest of the season, and combined with New Jersey's 4-3 overtime win against Pittsburgh, moved the Rangers back into first in the Eastern Conference.

Washington dropped into a tie with the Devils for sixth.

"Washington is a team that always out-belligerents us," said Rangers coach Colin Campbell. "We came in here knowing we had to prove a point to ourselves, be as belligerent as they are and smart -- which we haven't been lately.

"We had to prove we could win the scrums down low and we did. . . . But I know we don't play well when we don't play many games, and I think Washington was in that funk. Sometimes a rest throws you off."

Washington's leading scorer, Peter Bondra, returned to the lineup yesterday for the first time in four games, and its blue line enforcer, Mark Tinordi, was back for the first time since Feb. 7, but neither did the Caps any good.

Washington's goal came with 7: 28 gone in the third when Berube scored from the slot with a backhand shot that beat Glenn Healy, who made 24 saves. Caps goalie Olie Kolzig stopped 13 of 19 shots.

"They did to us what we did to them the last time," said Kolzig, who had beaten the Rangers, 5-3, in New York on Feb. 27. "They were a depleted team and struggling a little bit, and they came in . . . and took it to us.

"I didn't come up with any big plays, we missed some zone coverage and everything just snowballed." The Rangers were without Pat Verbeek and Ray Ferraro, their second- and fifth-leading scorers, respectively, and without defensemen Kevin Lowe and Bruce Driver.

But they got an unexpected pre-game boost when the NHL ruled that Kovalev, who was to serve an automatic one-game suspension for getting two major high-sticking penalties, was available to play.

Director of officiating Bryan Lewis ruled favorably on the Rangers' two-week-old appeal at 11: 50 a.m., saying that Kovalev's major high-sticking penalty against Washington's Joe Juneau on Feb. 27 was excessive and should have been two two-minute minors.

Capitals today

Opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning

Site: ThunderDome, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Time: 1: 30 p.m.

Radio: WWLG (1360 AM), WTEM (570 AM)

Outlook: A Washington victory would push the Capitals past Tampa Bay and into fifth place in the Eastern Division playoff race. LW Todd Krygier, newly reacquired from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, is to join the Caps today. Caps will be without D Brendan Witt (broken wrist). D Sergei Gonchar (flu) is doubtful, and C Pat Peake (kidney stone) is possible. Tampa Bay reports that D Bill Houlder (groin), LW Petr Klima (shoulder) and D Michel Petit (back sprain) are day-to-day.

Pub Date: 3/10/96

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