EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., APRIL 5 -- Although Dino Ciccarelli won tonight's game with his third Stanley Cup hat trick, nobody was happier about the result than the man who earned the assist, Kevin Hatcher.
If Hatcher saves the videotape, he no doubt will edit out the third period, when he started out as a goat and came close to becoming a soprano.
With Washington ahead, 4-2, and skating on a power play, Hatcher made an unwise pass across the blueline toward Scott Stevens. New Jersey's Patrik Sundstrom batted it down and went in on a shorthanded breakaway, with John MacLean scoring on the rebound to put the Devils back in the game.
"I had a bit of time, and instead of making the easy play, I tried to get fancy," Hatcher said. "Sundstrom knocked it down and made me look bad."
After Terry Murray became coach of the Capitals in January, he reversed the points on the power play. That puts Hatcher, a righthanded shooter, on the left side, and Stevens, a left-handed shot, on the right. The idea is to provide better shooting angles, but it appeared to force Hatcher to attempt an awkward pass tonight.
"Maybe in that situation it wasn't just right, but I've spent quite a bit of time there and I feel comfortable," Hatcher said. "The main thing is, we won the game."
Murray said: "We don't want Kevin making a pass along the blueline in that situation. When you turn like that, you do give away what you're trying to do."
If Hatcher felt bad then, he felt worse a few minutes later. In checking MacLean near the boards, he was kicked below the belt. Hatcher skated in agony across the ice toward the Capitals' bench, then was unable to climb over the boards.
"I was more scared than hurt," Hatcher said. "I was winded too, and it took me a few minutes before I felt like going back out there."
Once he did, he became an integral part of the celebration and said: "It's a great feeling to win in overtime, but it's only one game. We did take the home ice away from them and everybody's feeling up, but we have to keep playing hard."
The Capitals' only power-play goal in 13 1/2 minutes of skating with a manpower advantage came from the unlikely stick of John Druce, making only his second Stanley Cup appearance.
He scored during a five-minute power play after New Jersey's Eric Weinrich was chased for a high stick on Geoff Courtnall that required two stitches. Druce, decked by Bob Brooke while jamming the net, was lying on the ice when he reached out with his stick to convert Ciccarelli's pass from behind the goal line.
"For me to be successful, I have to go to the net," Druce said. "I got tripped up on that play, but I was able to get the puck and score. It feels so good to be contributing. I felt good tonight, because I was getting involved and doing the things the coaches want."
Druce's only previous power-play goal in the NHL came a week ago at Philadelphia. Of his appearance on the extra-man unit tonight, Murray said: "You try to put your best players out, but with all the things happening on a five-minute power play, you don't want to keep coming back with the same six forwards. John has been playing well lately, he has the ability to score goals and he has good hands."