VANCOUVER, OCT. 31 -- A reasonably happy but banged-up bunch of Washington Capitals hobbled onto a plane here early this morning, anxious to finish the last bit of travel on a long road trip.
The good feelings stemmed from the team's 3-2 record on the trip, the last game of which was a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday night at Pacific Coliseum.
But the triumph was not free or easy as the Capitals lost two key players -- goalie Don Beaupre and center-left wing Peter Zezel -- to injuries that probably will sideline them for several weeks.
Beaupre, who shut out the Edmonton Oilers Sunday night, pulled a groin muscle midway through the first period. He was relieved by Mike Liut, who played an excellent game. Then, in the third period, Zezel sprained an ankle. After the game, he was taken to Vancouver General Hospital, where doctors put the ankle in a cast.
With Dino Ciccarelli and Alan May missing the last five games, the Capitals didn't need any more injuries. They hope May can return for Friday's game against the Los Angeles Kings at Capital Centre. Ciccarelli likely will be out until sometime in December.
Goalie Jim Hrivnak was called up from Baltimore and will practice with the team Thursday. However, General Manager David Poile said the team would not bring up another forward immediately to replace Zezel.
Watching Zezel use crutches to walk off the plane during a stopover in Chicago, Coach Terry Murray said: "It will just be a couple of weeks, I hope, before they are both back to full strength. Hopefully, it is not anything more than that."
Zezel, who leads the team in power-play goals with five, was injured when Vancouver's Garth Butcher kicked out Zezel's right leg and he landed awkwardly on the left.
"There's no break, but the doctors didn't know how long it would be," said Zezel, who will have the cast removed for examination by a team doctor Thursday. The Capitals said Zezel will not skate for two weeks.
Zezel had not scored in several games, but Beaupre was hot with two shutouts a loss in overtime in his three prior games.
"I guess everybody knows I wasn't faking it," Beaupre said with a bit of dark humor. "It's tough to bail out of a 0-0 game."
Beaupre has had the same injury five times in his career, including twice last season. On the fateful play, the puck was sent across the goal mouth and, as Beaupre moved right to left, the muscle did not support the shift in weight. He left the game with 9:50 left in the first period. Beaupre entered the game with a 1.81 goals-against average, among the best in the league.
"Coming in late, after training camp, I worked extra hard to get this going," said Beaupre, who held out because of a contract dispute. "Now I have to do it again. Not that I'm afraid of hard work, but it's a lot easier to keep something going than it is to start something over again."
Aside from the injuries, the evening was a splendid one for the Capitals. The victory was their second straight and improved their road record to 3-5.
The Capitals outworked the Canucks and, on the few occasions when they allowed Vancouver a good chance, Liut was there to stop them, save once.
"I kept them in there all night," said Vancouver goalie Troy Gamble, a confident rookie who was 4-0 with a 1.68 goals-against average. "Washington seems like a team that, when they get their chances, they are high-quality chances."
The Capitals' fourth line of Rob Murray, Nick Kypreos and Tim Bergland played well. The line produced nearly as many good chances as the other lines and got the team's first goal.
Kevin Hatcher pushed the puck behind the Canucks' net despite the presence of two Vancouver defensemen. Murray then nudged it out and into the slot. Gamble was flat-footed as it came out and Bergland backhanded it past him for a 1-0 lead.
Vancouver, which had just completed a long road trip, didn't forecheck especially hard, but it converted one turnover into a goal. Center Rob Murphy intercepted Dale Hunter's pass and shot the puck toward Liut. Before it got to him, Steve Bozek rerouted it for a 1-1 tie with just 77 seconds left in the second period.
Dave Tippett scored the winning goal with just 3:55 left in the game.