Capitals top Blues, 6-4, narrow gap on Rangers


LANDOVER -- It wasn't very pretty, but Terry Murray will gladly take it.

The Washington Capitals, led by Dino Ciccarelli's two goals and some big saves by Don Beaupre in the third period, defeated the St. Louis Blues, 6-4, before 15,722 last night at the Capital Centre.

The victory was the fourth at home without a loss for Washington (3-0-1), which moved to within five points of the idle first-place New York Rangers in the Patrick Division. The Capitals are 22-10-2 at home.

St. Louis, playing without the NHL's leading scorer Brett Hull (67 goals) who has back spasms, gave Washington all it could handle in the wide-open, offensive display.

"A lot of exciting things happened tonight," said Murray. "It was a great game for the fans. It wasn't very artistic, but I'm happy and I'll take the two points."

With the score tied at 4 entering the third period, Ciccarelli gave the Capitals a 5-4 lead by scoring on a pass from Dimitri Khristich. Ciccarelli, who has scored three goals in the last two games and has 31 on the season, scored from just off the left goal post. St. Louis pulled goalie Pat Jablonski with 53 seconds remaining and Mike Ridley scored into the empty net.

"Khristich made the play," Ciccarelli said of his game-winning goal. "He put the pass right on my stick. On my first goal, I came from behind the goal and didn't get very much on my shot, but it went right through the five hole [goalie's leg pads].

"It was a good day for me. I went through a long dry stretch [one goal in 18 games] and it's good to score again. Scoring the goal against the Islanders Sunday gave me confidence again.

"We don't like the kind of game we played tonight. Too many odd-man rushes up and down the ice and a lot of scoring. We like a more controlled, defensive type game, but we'll gladly take the win."

Beaupre, winning his 27th game of the season, made 14 saves in the critical third period and 34 for the game.

"Donnie Beaupre played spectacularly for us at the end," said Murray. "I've said all along that goaltending will play a large part in any success we have in the playoffs. St. Louis probably missed Hull, but I didn't. St. Louis played very well without him."

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