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  Wilson Calls on Canadiens for Inspiration
By Rachel Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 14, 1998; Page D8


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Trailing the Detroit Red Wings two games to none entering last night's Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, the Washington Capitals looked outside their dressing room for inspiration. The coaching staff came up with several teams — especially in baseball — who engineered comeback championships, but the most compelling was a hockey example Coach Ron Wilson could relate personally.

The 1971 Montreal Canadiens were the last team to trail two games to none in a Stanley Cup finals and then fight back to win, and Wilson was in the stands when they did it.

"The ironic part is that I went to that game in 1971," he said. "That was my birthday present from my dad. Montreal won the Cup in Chicago, and they lost the first two games of the series in Chicago. I was actually a witness to it, so maybe there's some karma here. I'm looking all over the place for karma."

Wilson also got some help from owner Abe Pollin, who spoke to the team about an hour before the opening faceoff. Pollin showed players his NBA championship ring from the then-Bullets (now Wizards) in 1978. The Bullets trailed the Seattle SuperSonics three times in the title series (1-0, 2-1, 3-2) before rallying to win. The ring is inscribed with the famous quote from Dick Motta that "the opera ain't over until the fat lady sings," which was a rallying cry for the underdog Bullets.

Klee, Toms in Lineup

Defenseman Ken Klee and forward Jeff Toms were inserted into the Capitals' lineup last night. Klee stepped in for Jeff Brown, who is out after his head injury worsened in Game 2, and Toms replaced Mike Eagles, who was a healthy scratch. Toms has been used sparingly over the last four months but does have one of the Capitals' most important goals at MCI Center, scoring the overtime winner against Florida in the first game in the new building. . . . Last night was the one-year anniversary of the limousine crash that injured Red Wings defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov and masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov, but Detroit players said they were trying not to make an issue of the date. "It is not significant to our team because we think about them every day," Brendan Shanahan said.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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