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  Islanders Deal Caps Another Double-OT Loss
By Dave Sell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 25, 1993; Page D01

Capitals Logo UNIONDALE, N.Y., April 24 — After three overtime strikes, the Washington Capitals are very close to being counted out of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Ray Ferraro scored with 5:40 gone in the second overtime tonight to give the New York Islanders their third straight overtime victory, this one 4-3 in front of a sellout crowd of 16,297 at the Nassau Coliseum. It also gives New York a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Patrick Division semifinal series.

The Islanders can eliminate the Capitals Monday night in Game 5 at Capital Centre.

The Capitals won the first game in this series, but the Islanders have won three straight in overtime. As in Thursday's Game 3, the Capitals gave up a 3-1 lead in the third period. This time, it was Pat Flatley who sent the game to overtime with a goal with 5:46 left in regulation.

"With a 3-1 lead with nine minutes to go, there's no way it should end up as it did," Capitals Coach Terry Murray said.

"It seems like the games are duplicates of each other," Islanders Coach Al Arbour said.

In Game 2 last Tuesday, the teams played until after midnight when Brian Mullen finally scored with 5:10 left in the second overtime for the game-winner. In last Thursday's Game 3, Ferraro scored with just 4:46 gone in the first overtime.

"It's the time of my life," said Ferraro, who knows that some are skeptical when he says he's been dreaming about just this sort of thing but insists it's all true. "The only other thing I've dreamt about was hitting a home run at Fenway Park but I don't think I'm going to get to do that."

The Capitals had not scored the first goal in the first three playoff games and were losers in the last two. But they came through with the first goal tonight. In fact, they came through with the first three goals -- two by Al Iafrate and one by Mike Ridley -- against Islanders goalie Glenn Healy.

However, the Islanders didn't seem to have a problem coming from behind Thursday and they weren't perplexed by the proposition tonight. Vladimir Malakhov scored a power play goal against Capitals goalie Rick Tabaracci with more than 12 minutes left in the second period. Still, the Capitals remained ahead 3-1 as the clock moved under eight minutes left in the third. By that point on Thursday, the Islanders had cut the deficit to 3-2.

However, Islander fans didn't have to wait much longer. The Islanders' Green Line, with center Travis Green, spent some of the night helping to keep what is supposed to be the Capitals' scoring line in check. That would be the line of Michal Pivonka, Peter Bondra and some other winger. Tonight, it was Bob Carpenter, who had done as much offensively in the first three games as Bondra and Pivonka combined. Well, Bondra and Pivonka are still looking for their first goal. Bondra had two great chances, including a jaunt down the slot with 3:30 left in regulation but he shot wide.

Green had his, though. With Calle Johansson on his tail, Green redirected a pass from Claude Loiselle that escaped the reach of Tabaracci to cut the Capitals lead to 3-2 with 7:06 left. In Game 3, the tie only came on Pierre Turgeon's goal with 42.7 seconds left. This time, the Capitals didn't wait so long to completely give up the lead. Uwe Krupp flipped a shot toward a screened Tabaracci, who made the save but couldn't control the rebound as he fell. Flatley was there to put in the puck for a 3-3 tie with 5:46 left.

The Capitals had three defensemen with 20 or more goals this season -- Kevin Hatcher (34), Iafrate (25) and Sylvain Cote (21) -- a first in NHL history. Before the series, the Islanders spoke at length about the need to keep the Capitals defensemen in check. Calle Johansson had five assists in the first two games, but none of the defensemen had any goals in the first three games.

"That's great," Arbour said this morning. "Those guys are a big part of their offense, and so far we've been able to contain them. We've got to keep an eye on them and keep them down to be successful."

The Capitals defensemen have, to some extent, not tried to jump into the offensive rush as often as during the season. That was due partly to an emphasis on not allowing wonderful opportunities for the opposition and partly to Arbour reminding his team that to finish checks, give an extra bump and tie up those defensemen as much as possible.

"It's doing all those little things and paying special attention to them because when those guys get going, it is quite awesome," Arbour said.

Arbour knows whereof he speaks, but the Islanders run of luck in that department expired in the first period.

Islanders defenseman Darius Kasparaitis went to the penalty box for roughing with 3:18 gone in the game and it took Iafrate all of four seconds to score. Ridley won the faceoff from Tom Fitzgerald, Peter Bondra tapped the puck back to the point and Iafrate let it rip. The puck went in just inside the left post.

Most of the other noteworthy events in the first period involved Tabaracci making saves. Actually, Cote made the game's first good save. Turgeon collected a bouncing puck and went around Cote. Turgeon moved across the front of the net. Tabaracci went down as Turgeon kept skating and he probably would have scored had Cote not come behind Tabaracci and stood in the way.

Both teams took some silly penalties and one of that variety cost the Islanders early in the second. Twenty six seconds after Brad Dalgarno went to the penalty box, Islanders defenseman Uwe Krupp punched Cote in the back of the head and referee Terry Gregson called a penalty. That gave the Capitals a five-on-three advantage for 1:34. Well, they needed it all and then some.

Cote went deep to forecheck like a forward, knocked Malakhov off the puck and passed to Bondra behind the net. In turn, Bondra quickly centered the puck to Ridley, who re-routed the pass for his first playoff goal and a 2-0 lead with 15:23 left.

"I try to do my share of hitting," Cote said Friday. Actually, he is one of the more consistently physical defensemen on the team, without ever doing any fighting and despite not being all that big. "I take pleasure in it. It feels good to hear him take pain. It puts adrenaline in you."

Bondra failed to convert a golden scoring chance right in front of Healy with about 11 minutes left, but he did have assists on the first two goals and was moving in traffic -- something he hasn't always taken to quickly. As Ridley was pushing the puck back to Iafrate, Bondra headed to the front of the net, where Islanders defenseman Dennis Vaske cross-checked Bondra into Healy. Gregson was going to call a penalty on Vaske, but Iafrate scored through the thicket of bodies for a 3-0 lead with 14:06 left in the period.

That scene would be repeated a few minutes later, though with different results. Todd Krygier's goal was wiped out -- and the Capitals left shorthanded -- when Gregson ruled that Kelly Miller had interfered with Healy with 9:45 left.

It would have been a nice goal for the Capitals to have because the Islanders had cut the deficit to 3-1 about three minutes earlier. With Hatcher in the penalty box, Turgeon won a faceoff from Ridley by kicking the puck back to Malakhov at the point. Malakhov's shot found a hole between Tabaracci's pads to slice the Washington lead to 3-1 with 12:43 left in the second period.

From there, though, it was all Islanders.

"We need to play with more confidence," Iafrate said. "They fed off our nerves late in the game."

© Copyright 1993 The Washington Post Company

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