EDMONTON, OCT. 28 -- A day has rarely made such a difference.
"Who would have thought that we'd go from nine goals to zero goals?" Washington Capitals goalie Don Beaupre said. "I never would have thought it."
Many of the 15,821 in the stands at the Northlands Coliseum and a few more on the ice joined Beaupre in being surprised at the Washington Capitals' 1-0 victory over the Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers tonight.
Just 24 hours earlier and a few hours south of here, the Capitals were thoroughly embarrassed, losing to the Calgary Flames, 9-4. That was the most goals allowed by the Capitals since 1985. Tonight, Beaupre and the Capitals registered their second shutout.
Michal Pivonka scored with just 2:11 gone in the first period. After that, the Capitals did what they tried but failed to do in Calgary. Unlike Mike Liut the night before, Beaupre (32 saves) faced no breakaways and only a couple odd-man rushes. On the few occasions when he needed to make great saves, he did. The forwards backchecked and gave the defensemen time to collect the puck and move it out of the zone. The defensemen shoveled the speedy Oilers to the outside, lowering the percentage of their shots.
"We really needed that after last night," Capitals Coach Terry Murray said. "It's been a bit of a roller-coaster ride already."
The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for the Capitals and gave them their second road victory in seven tries. The two-game losing streak had followed a three-game winning streak, which in turn preceded a three-game losing streak. "If we play like that and play that type of game all season, we'll be all right," said Murray, whose team is 2-2 on this trip, which ends Tuesday night in Vancouver.
The Capitals played well, but the timing of their visit here helped. The Oilers are dry, tapped out, and would sell their souls for a goal-scoring gusher.
They have now lost four in a row for the first time since 1987 -- the Capitals also gave them the fourth loss back then -- principally because they can't put the puck in the net. They have five goals in the last four games.
Captain, top center and all-around hero Mark Messier -- who can sometimes lead this team to win with his lethal glare -- is injured. Jari Kurri lives and works in Milan. Glenn Anderson doesn't have a goal this season. But there isn't likely to be much sympathy for the Oilers, in last place in the Smythe Division.
"It's nice to come in here for once and not worry about all that," Beaupre said.
"We've never had a problem with offense at all," Oilers Coach John Muckler said. "It's not like we're trying to play a defensive game."
Murray was livid after the Calgary loss. Nearly all of his postgame comments involved his feeling that Calgary ran up the score, but his team was probably the main reason for his anger.
Before tonight's game, he held a meeting. This team has lots of meetings, but this one was just designed to re-examine players roles and responsibilities. No yelling, though.
"It wasn't loud at all," defenseman Bob Rouse said. "Terry just got to the point. He clarified everything and I think it helped."
Rouse played the middle part in the play that resulted in the game's only goal. John Druce -- who didn't play the last 50 minutes against Calgary after getting knocked hard into the boards -- forced Edmonton's Charlie Huddy to throw the puck behind his net, along the boards. But it wasn't the best pass and Rouse stopped it at the blueline. He threw it toward the net and Pivonka redirected it past Oilers goalie Bill Ranford for his third goal of the season.
"That shot will never go in without a screen or a tip," said Rouse, who has most of his assists that way and did actually score his lone goal by just throwing the puck at the net.
No matter the method, the Oilers got nothing past Beaupre, who has now played three strong games in a row. He shut out New Jersey, 4-0, on Oct. 20, and then was in the net for the Capitals' 3-2 overtime loss in Chicago last Thursday.
Beaupre's never had more than two shutouts in a season, and now he has the most in the league. His goals-against average dropped to 1.81.
He is pleased with his start and appreciated Murray and General Manager David Poile's patience with him after his contract holdout.
"Maybe," Murray said jokingly, "missing training camp is the way to go."
Skipjacks Win, 5-3
BALTIMORE, Oct. 28 -- Alfie Turcotte scored a goal and had two assists as the Baltimore Skipjacks scored the final five goals of the game to defeat the Binghamton Rangers, 5-3, in an American Hockey League tonight.
Goals by Turcotte and Jeff Greenlaw in a 26-second span early in the third period boosted Baltimore into a 3-3 tie. A slap shot from the left point by Ken Lovsin during a power play at 10:15 boosted Baltimore into a 4-3 lead and Tyler Larter's power play goal at 15:41 closed the scoring.
The victory kept Baltimore in first place in the Southern Division with a 7-3 record.
Binghamton scored a pair of goals for a 2-0 first-period lead. Tie Domi put a slap shot from the right circle through goalie Jim Hrivnak's pads at 11:05 and Brian McReynolds, standing at the left goal post, backhanded a rebound into the cage at 16:50.
Rob Zamuner stole the puck from Baltimore defenseman Rob Mendel and rifled a shot from the slot past Hrivnak at 9:59 of the second period for a 3-0 Rangers lead.
Baltimore got on the board first when Chris Felix ripped a slapshot from the point past Mark LaForest.