Capitals appear mortal in 5-4 loss to Red Wings Sellout crowd sees fall from first place


LANDOVER -- The Washington Capitals are not as invincible as it seemed.

Last night before 18,130, the first sellout of the season at the Capital Centre, the Detroit Red Wings scored three third-period goals to deal the Capitals a 5-4 loss.

The loss broke a three-game Washington winning streak, was only the second loss in seven Capital Centre games and dropped the Capitals out of first place in the Patrick Division, one point behind the New York Rangers, who tied the Toronto Maple Leafs last night.

Bob Probert led the Red Wings with two goals, his second breaking a 3-3 tie at 9 minutes, 33 seconds of the third period. John Burr's unassisted goal at 14:24 gave Detroit a 5-3 lead.

Dimitri Khristich, making a pretty move to get free at the blue line, scored on a breakaway at 16:17 to make the score close.

Washington took a 3-2 lead at 2:55 of the third period on Al Iafrate's power-play goal on a slap shot from the right point. Jimmy Carson's goal at 3:31, off an assist from Kevin Miller, the Capitals' Kelly Miller's brother, tied the score again.

Detroit caught the Capitals in a line change and Probert skated to the left circle and fired a power-play goal past goalie Don Beaupre to give Detroit the lead it never relinquished.

Burr stole a clearing in the Washington end and ripped a slap shot past Beaupre from the right circle for the game-winning goal.

The teams traded first-period goals. The Capitals scored first as Calle Johansson knocked the rebound of a shot by Randy Burridge past Detroit goalie Tim Cheveldae for a 1-0 lead at 6:17. Burridge took a shot from the left circle that Cheveldae stopped. The puck bounced out in the slot to Johansson who flipped it into the open side of the cage for his fifth goal of the season.

One minute, 10 seconds later, Detroit tied the score when Steve Yzerman scored on the rebound of his own shot for his sixth goal of the season. Capitals goalie Beaupre made a sliding save on the first shot, but Yzerman was right there, just off the crease, to lift the puck over the prone goalie.

Probert's goal with 37 seconds remaining in the second period enabled the Red Wings to gain a 2-2 tie with the Capitals after two periods.

Probert, taking a pass from Yzerman, beat Beaupre to the short side with a wrist shot from the left circle for his fourth goal of the season.

Washington had taken a 2-1 lead on Sylvan Cote's goal at 16:13 of the second period. Cote, scoring his fourth goal of the season, accepted a pass from Burridge on the right boards and slapped a shot from the top of the right circle. The puck went off Red Wings defenseman Brad Marsh and through Cheveldae's pads.

NOTES: The Capitals rank third in the NHL in power-play proficiency, 17-for-78. . . . Washington will go on a 3-game trip beginning tomorrow that will take them to Quebec, Montreal and New York's Madison Square Garden to face the Rangers before coming back to the Capital Centre on Friday against the Penguins. . . . Washington farmhand C Victor Gervais had 3 goals and 1 assist to lead Hampton Roads to a 7-3 win over Greensboro in the ECHL. G Olaf Kolzig made 38 saves in the same game. . . . D Jason Woolley and D Brad Schlegel, Capitals draft choices, are both members of the Canadian National team. . . . Detroit will retire the sweaters of Hall of Fame members Ted Lindsay and Alex Delvecchio tonight at the Joe Louis Arena when the Red Wings play the Blues.

Detroit 1 1 3 -- 5

Washington 1 1 2 -- 4

First period--1, Washington, Johansson 5 (Burridge, Ridley), 6:17. Detroit, Yzerman 6 (Gallant, McCrimmon), 7:27. Penalties--Konstantinov, Det (holding), 9:37; Burridge, Was (roughing), 15:26; Konstantinov, Det (holding), 18:37.

Second period--3, Washington, Cote 4 (Burridge, Iafrate), 16:13. 4, Detroit, Probert 4 (Yzerman, McCrimmon), 19:23. Penalties--Burr, Det (hooking), 3:59; Kerr, Det (boarding), 8:38; Kypreos, Was (holding), 12:33; Lidstrom, Det (tripping), 14:06; McCrimmon, Det (tripping), 17:05; Gallant, Det, misconduct-game misconduct, 17:05.

Third period--5, Washington, Iafrate 3 (Ridley, Cote), 2:55 (pp). 6, Detroit, Carson 10 (Kevin Miller), 3:31. 7, Detroit, Probert 5 (Racine, Cheveldae), 9:33 (pp). 8, Detroit, Kevin Miller 5, 14:24. 9, Washington, Khristich 9 (Hatcher), 16:17 (pp). Penalties--McCrimmon, Det (slashing), 2:12; Ridley, Was (high-sticking), 4:49; Bondra, Was (interference), 8:36; Hatcher, Was (holding), 12:09; Konstantinov, Det (holding), 14:58; Krygier, Was (interference), 19:18.

Shots on goal--Detroit 11-14-10--35. Washington 13-5-4--22. Power-play opportunities--Detroit 1 of 6; Washington 2 of 8. Goalies--Detroit, Cheveldae, 7-8-1 (22 shots-18 saves). Washington, Beaupre, 2-1-0 (35-30). A--18,130. Referee--Don Koharski. Linesmen--Jean Morin, Ray Scapinello.

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