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  Caps Lose Game 7 in 4 OTs
By Robert Fachet
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 19, 1987; Page C01


Capitals Logo The Washington Capitals' 13th season ended this morning like so many others, in bitter disappointment. But this time the Capitals really outdid themselves.

Pat LaFontaine's goal after 68 minutes 47 seconds of sudden-death overtime brought an end to the fifth longest game in National Hockey League history, as the New York Islanders defeated the Capitals, 3-2.

New York won the best-of-seven Patrick Division semifinal series, four games to three, and will go on to play the Flyers in Philadelphia Monday. The Capitals can only sit back and wonder how they let things reach this stage, after they had led the series, 3-1.

Gord Dineen came out from behind the Washington net with the puck and his attempted shot was deflected to LaFontaine at the right point. He beat a screened Bob Mason on the short side to win it.

The Capitals, who were not shutout all season, were blanked for the last 90 minutes 2 seconds of a game that ended at 1:56 a.m. They took 75 shots at Kelly Hrudey; New York won on its 57th shot.

Mike Gartner scored the only goal of the first period as the Capitals dominated play, outshooting the Islanders by 15-5 and dealing out some resounding checks.

Gartner scored 48 seconds before the intermission. Greg Adams centered the puck from the right wing boards and Gartner deflected it before he was dumped by Ken Leiter. Hrudey reached down to cover the puck and his glove missed by inches, giving Gartner the opportunity to knock it into the net as he was falling.

For once, Capital Centre was a noisy site. The sellout crowd of 18,130, the majority clad in white per the club's request, twirled white towels they found on their seat backs and repeatedly sent the noise meters into triple figures.

The Capitals survived a crisis at game's start. Ailing Alan Haworth was listed in the starting lineup, instead of Grant Martin, who was recalled from Binghamton to take his place. But Andy Ramisch, a press box staff worker, noticed the discrepancy and informed the official scorer. Otherwise, Washington would not have been allowed to play Martin.

As it was, the Capitals did not receive a penalty until only nine seconds remained in the period, when Bob Gould was chased in coincidental circumstances with the Islanders' Alan Kerr.

The referee was Andy Van Hellemond, a man Washington Coach Bryan Murray usually is disappointed to see because, Murray said, "When he refs, it seems like something weird always happens -- and we usually lose." In previous playoff games officiated by Van Hellemond, the Capitals were 1-4; over the recent regular season, the figures were 1-5-2.

Last night, however, it was the Islanders who were doing most of the complaining. Hrudey was speared in the shoulder by Adams and went down in an exaggerated posture, vainly trying to draw a penalty. Later, Michal Pivonka caught the Islanders' Ken Morrow in the head with his stick and Morrow lay on the ice for some time, without a penalty call.

Mason, who had played very well in three previous series starts, was given the starting assignment for the finale. His biggest test of the first period came when Bob Bassen took a rinkwide pass from Duane Sutter and one-timed the puck from the right hashmarks. Mason moved quickly to his left and blocked it.

The first period was in sharp contrast with the first 20 minutes Thursday, when New York fired 20 shots at Mason while building a 2-0 lead.

Hrudey, as he had throughout the series, made some excellent stops in the period. He moved out to challenge Dave Christian and Gaetan Duchesne, foiling both, and blocked a drive by Ed Kastelic, who was alone in front after throwing Greg Gilbert's stick away in center ice.

The hardest hits of the period were landed by Lou Franceschetti, on Patrick Flatley, and Rod Langway, on Rich Kromm.

Martin's first NHL goal, with 1:15 remaining in the second period, sent the Capitals to the dressing room with a 2-1 lead, after Flatley had tied the game at 11:35.

Early in the period, Flatley went limping off following a devastating center-ice check by Scott Stevens. He was not off long, however, and dampened much of the fans' enthusiasm when he crossed the Washington blue line against a retreating Kevin Hatcher and put the puck between Mason's legs with a drive from the high slot. Mason was screened by Stevens, who went down in front to try to block it.

Like Gartner, Flatley was scoring his 13th Stanley Cup goal.

Primarily used as a faceoff specialist, Martin was trailing the play when the puck went behind the New York net. Martin checked Islanders defenseman Randy Boyd to the ice, kicked the puck ahead and swept around the front of the net. In the process, he whipped the puck past a startled Hrudey.

The Capitals could have put this one out of sight before Flatley put the Islanders on the board. Mike Ridley twice hit posts with open nets beckoning, the first time after taking Gartner's pass on a two-on-zero break and the second after the rebound of Christian's shot rolled into the slot.

Hrudey gloved another shot by Ridley at the finish of a three-on-two with Bryan Trottier serving a holding penalty. Hrudey got a break when he permitted a rebound off a shot from a sharp angle to roll in front and Hatcher, taking the puck on his backhand, put a weak shot on net.

Martin had two chances after Hatcher maneuvered his way past two Islanders and fired a shot that Martin deflected. The puck struck Hrudey's stick and rolled off the goalie's chest, giving Martin a second whack that Hrudey smothered.

That double dip came at the six-minute mark, at which point the Capitals' shot margin was 22-6. Over the next 11 minutes, Washington was unable to put a shot on goal.

The Islanders came out strong for the third period. Mason got his right pad on a tough shot by Morrow from the right point, then turned back Sutter's backhander from the slot.

New York received its first power play of the game when Martin was called for holding Bassen at 1:31. The Capitals killed it off without undue difficulty.

After Hrudey made a save, Franceschetti grabbed him around the neck without a great deal of force and Hrudey went down as if he had been guillotined. Several Islanders went after Franceschetti, but when the incident was sorted out, the only penalties were coincidental high-sticking minors to Franceschetti and Gerald Diduck.

With 6 1/2 minutes left, Hrudey stopped a backhander by Christian and Kelly Miller's rebound was deflected wide.

The Islanders tied it, 2-2, with 5:23 remaining. Trottier broke down the right wing and took Kerr's pass behind Stevens. As Hatcher stick-checked him, Trottier launched a backhander that slipped between Mason's pads.

It was Trottier's 60th Stanley Cup goal. The two points gave him 162, placing him third on the all-time list, two ahead of Gordie Howe.

The action was unceasing down the stretch as both teams came close to ending it in regulation time. Hrudey stopped Duchesne circling out of the left-wing corner with 3 1/2 minutes left, then blocked a close-up drive by Franceschetti.

At the other end, Kerr was off target at the finish of a two-on-one with Bassen. Mason stopped Konroyd's drive with 90 seconds to play after the puck struck a discarded stick and caromed to Konroyd in the slot.

Only 30 seconds were left when Gould walked in from the right wing, but before he could unload a winning shot, Trottier raced from far behind the play to knock him off stride.

The Capitals had a 36-21 shooting advantage during regulation time.

Each team put 11 shots on goal in the third period and each was credited with 11 in the first 20-minute overtime.

The Capitals dominated the early portion of the first extra period. Gartner, Franceschetti and Gould had good scoring chances, with Gould poking the puck from under Hrudey and watching it roll inches wide.

The Islanders took over and, at one point, put seven straight shots on Mason. Twice, Tomas Jonsson sent teammates in on breakaways with rinkwide passes, but Mason managed to glove shots by Bassen and Sutter.

With less than a minute left, Washington's Greg Smith fired a long shot off a post and the teams headed for a second sudden-death session.

Incredibly, the Capitals put 17 shots on goal in the second 20-minute overtime period. The Islanders were limited to nine.

New York had the best chance midway through the session. Mason blocked a shot by Trottier and Randy Wood sent the rebound under Mason's left pad. The puck struck the post at Mason's left and caromed back under the goalie, giving Wood a second swipe that Mason smothered.

In the last minute, Hrudey gloved a tough shot by Gould, then lost the puck to Miller. He recovered to block Miller's shot.

The game was the first in the NHL to require two overtimes since Gartner's goal at 21:23 gave the Capitals a 2-1 victory over Hrudey and the Islanders on April 11, 1985. It became the first triple overtime contest since 1971, when the New York Rangers defeated Chicago, 3-2, on Pete Stemkowski's goal at 41:29.

In the third overtime it was Mason's turn to make sensational saves.

Mason foiled breakaways by Mikko Makela and LaFontaine. He also stopped Makela on a testing drive from the right-wing circle.

The Capitals, outshot by 11-10 over the 20 minutes, had good chances in the later stages. Gartner's pass to a wide-open Gould in front just missed connections and Christian was inches wide on another setup by Gartner.

In the last minute, Mason blocked a shot by Makela and the puck popped high in the air in front of the net, but Hatcher cleared the puck.

© Copyright 1987 The Washington Post Company

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