Caps turn on power, win, 5-2 Flyers defeated in opening game


LANDOVER -- This wasn't a classic season opener, but the Washington Capitals will take the results.

The Capitals matched the opening-night electricity in the air with more than enough power on the ice to turn back the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-2, last night at the Capital Centre.

Dino Ciccarelli scored what proved to be the deciding goal 16 minutes, 34 seconds into the second period, and Peter Bondra and Dimitri Khristich scored goals late in the third period to account for the 5-2 margin.

Ciccarelli was hanging around the net in the second period when Washington's Randy Burridge slammed a hard, backhand shot off Philadelphia goaltender Ron Hextall. Burridge's shot bounced off Hextall and skidded around the ice before Ciccarelli nudged it into the net for a 3-2 lead.

Ciccarelli's goal was disputed by the Flyers, who called for an instant-replay review under the new rule in the NHL this season. But the instant replay upheld the goal.

It looked as if Washington, which wasn't sharp in the early going without left wing Kelly Miller and No. 1 goaltender Don Beaupre, who are involved in contract disputes, would have to settle for a one-goal victory before Bondra scored his second goal of the night and Khristich hit the net.

After a slow first period, the action was end-to-end in the second period, and Washington came out with a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes of play.

Philadelphia had tied the score, 2-2, at 10:15 of the second period on a Tony Horacek goal.

Horacek blasted a shot from the top of the circle and beat goalie Mike Liut down low.

Bondra had pushed Washington on top, 2-1, at 5:44 of the second period with a wrist shot that was set up by a nifty assist by Dale Hunter, who had to work hard to get the puck to Bondra.

The Capitals seemed to have some opening-night jitters in the first period, and they needed a power-play goal by Sylvain Cote -- playing his first game for the Capitals -- at 13:48 to gain a 1-1 tie at the end of the period.

Washington squandered three power-play opportunities in the first 10 minutes of the game, with Khristich and Ciccarelli just missing chances to put the puck in the net on two of the man-up situations.

Khristich was all alone in front of the net with just three minutes gone, but he couldn't beat Hextall on the first Capitals power play. Then Ciccarelli sent a hard shot toward the net at 8:15 on the third power play, but the puck sailed just wide right.

Those two misses gave Philadelphia a chance to take the lead, 1-0, at 12:17 of the first period on a goal by Mike Ricci.

Ricci took the puck near the blue line and skated untouched toward the net and beat Liut one-on-one for the score.

But that lead didn't last long, as Cote re-directed a shot by Hunter into the net, tying the score, 1-1, at 13:48 and giving the Capitals its first man-up goal after three misses.

Washington wound up the first period 1-for-5 on power plays, and the Flyers were 0-for-2 on man-up situations. The Capitals held an 8-7 edge in shots in the first period.

Capitals tonight

Opponent: Buffalo Sabres

Site: Capital Centre, Landover, 7:35


Radio: WCAO (600 AM), WMAL (630 AM)

Outlook: This is the second game of a weekend series at home that opens the season for the Capitals. Last night against the Flyers, the Capitals were without LW Kelly Miller, who told GM David Poile Thursday that he would not be in uniform because his contract expectations haven't been met. Miller joins G Don Beaupre, both on their option years. Beaupre left training camp Sept. 18.

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