Don Beaupre had turned in another excellent performance in goal for the Washington Capitals, but he had to be asked if he felt deserted. Mistakes by folks in front of him meant a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets Saturday night at Capital Centre.
Though he spoke of turnovers ending up in the net, Beaupre didn't answer the question directly. He did say, "We have to start putting some wins together."
The Capitals have 25 games left, beginning with Tuesday's meeting with Vancouver at Capital Centre, which is certainly enough time to recover and make the playoffs, if they can get straightened out.
They are one-point ahead of where they were at this stage last season, but the Patrick Division race also was much tighter a year ago. On Feb. 4, 1990, only five points separated all six teams, with the Capitals tied with Pittsburgh for last place. As of yesterday morning, 20 points separated the first-place Rangers from the last-place Islanders.
For the last three weeks, the Capitals simply have treaded water, with some moments when their collective heads have dipped below the surface.
A victory Saturday would have pulled them within a point of fourth-place New Jersey, which lost in St. Louis. But then the Capitals haven't won two games in a row since they beat Boston (Jan. 6) and Calgary (Jan. 11). Since then, they are 3-6-1.
"We are continuously doing that -- giving the puck away," Coach Terry Murray said after the Jets scored four times in the third period. "It seemed like the wheels fell off."
On first period goals by Calle Johansson and Mike Ridley, the Capitals led, 2-0, going into the third period.
But the final period was a mess, with the Jets taking advantage of uninspired Capitals play and the resultant mistakes. Mark Osborne scored after two minutes, and after Thomas Steen's tying goal, Osborne got the game-winner with just 60 seconds left. Brent Ashton scored into an empty net with four seconds remaining.
At practice yesterday, there was some good and bad news on the injury front. Rod Langway, who missed the last 11 games with back spasms, skated for a second straight day. However, Peter Bondra fell in practice and injured his shoulder, though it isn't certain how long he will be out.
Steve Leach did not skate and received treatment after injuring his shoulder against the Jets. Also, Bob Joyce's two-week conditioning stint in Baltimore is set to expire today.