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  Detroit's Fedorov Becomes Big Shot
By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 14, 1998; Page D9

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Sergei Fedorov had not scored in the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals. Last night, the player who has already earned a $12 million bonus this postseason made certain his first goal of this series was a big one.

Fedorov scored his playoff-leading 10th goal with 4 minutes 51 seconds remaining to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals at MCI Center, putting the Red Wings within one victory of a second consecutive championship.

Detroit leads the best-of-seven series, three games to none. The Red Wings can parade around the ice with the Stanley Cup if they win Game 4 on Tuesday night.

"[Fedorov's goal] was a big-time goal by a big-time player," Detroit Coach Scotty Bowman said.

Fedorov's goal came less than five minutes after Washington's Brian Bellows had tied the game at 1 on a power-play goal. That goal had the sellout crowd at its most feverish pitch of the evening, but the Capitals never mustered another scoring chance, even after pulling goalie Olaf Kolzig with more than one minute remaining. Detroit's defense clamped down and didn't allow another shot on goal.

"When you get a goal scored on you at that point, it's pretty hard to take," Red Wings defenseman Larry Murphy said. "But we played well and didn't collapse. I wouldn't say we took the play to them, but we certainly handled it well."

Said Wings defenseman Bob Rouse: "When we're in a tied situation or we're down, we're a pretty explosive team. We're always looking for that next goal. That's when we seem to play our best-when we're down a goal or even."

On the winning play, Doug Brown banked a pass along the right-side boards to Fedorov near the red line. He skated in one-on-one against Washington defenseman Calle Johansson. Fedorov moved slightly toward the middle of the ice and took a wrist shot from the inside portion of the right circle, beating Kolzig high to the short side.

While Fedorov was mobbed by his teammates, some Detroit fans threw two octopi on the ice to celebrate the goal. Washington forward Chris Simon dropped his stick and held his head in his hands.

"I was trying not to do too much with it until entering the zone," Fedorov said. "I saw an opportunity to make a move and I shot it."

Fedorov, who had a remarkable 13 shots in Detroit's 5-4 victory in a high-paced Game 2, said he had tired in that game, a reason he had gotten off so many shots without scoring.

Fedorov had been a restricted free agent following last season and was unsigned until February. He signed an offer sheet with the Carolina Hurricanes that included a $13 million bonus should his team reach the conference finals. Detroit matched the offer and Fedorov collected after Detroit defeated Dallas in the Western Conference finals.

"I hadn't played that many minutes at that high a tempo," Fedorov said of Game 2. "Tonight, I generated speed in the neutral zone. The assistant coaches felt I was on top of my game and they kept putting me out there."

Fedorov's goal sent Washington to another painful defeat. For the third consecutive game in the finals, Detroit carried the play early and took a lead before allowing Washington back into the game.

Last night, Tomas Holmstrom scored 35 seconds into the game to put the Red Wings ahead 1-0, a lead they held until Bellows' goal midway through the third period. Goalie Chris Osgood wasn't tested often, but he made a handful of spectacular saves. Perhaps his best came when he caught Peter Bondra's slap shot late in the second period on a 2 on 1 break.

The victory capped an emotional day for the Red Wings. One year ago to the day, defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov and team masseur Sergei Mnatsakonov were injured in a limousine accident after a team golf outing to celebrate their championship.

"We thought about what happened last year before the warmup," Fedorov said. "... [It] gave us a kind of extra motivation and inspiration to play harder and really, really concentrate and focus on the game."

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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