Caps on verge of spilling Cup champion Penguins


The numbers are all in the Washington Capitals' favor.

After Saturday night's 7-2 victory, they lead the best-of-seven, first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-1.

Heading into tonight's game at the Capital Centre, the Capitals are 8-3 this season against the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins, 5-1 at home.

And, in the Penguins' 25-year history, they never have rallied from a 3-1 playoff deficit.

"We have to keep playing the way we did in our first two games here [3-1 and 6-2 wins at the Capital Centre] and the way we played Saturday," said Capitals coach Terry Murray. "We are getting the offense while not sacrificing any defense, which has always been our strong point. Saturday, we played Pittsburgh tough all over the ice, and that's what we have to continue to do."

"In the back of our heads, we know they're the Stanley Cup champions, and we know what they can do," Capitals defenseman Kevin Hatcher said. "At this point, 3-1 doesn't mean anything."

"We can't worry about anything else right now but winning Game 5," said Penguins coach Scotty Bowman. "We know we have to win three, but we just have to focus on the next one and try to get back to Pittsburgh for Game 6. You start worrying about winning three, and you won't win one."

The Capitals outshot Pittsburgh, 19-11, in the first period and had a 4-0 lead before Mario Lemieux scored his only goal of the game. Dino Ciccarelli, who had four goals in the game, had two of the Capitals' first four goals.

Said goalie Don Beaupre, who had 31 saves Saturday: "We wanted to get on top early and make Pittsburgh play from behind because, when they get on a roll, they're very tough to stop. When their transition game gets going, you're on your heels after that."

While the offense inundated starting goalie Tom Barrasso and his replacement, Ken Wregget, with shots, Washington's defense harassed the Penguins all over the ice. Lemieux, who had three goals and three assists in Pittsburgh's 6-4 win Thursday, was held to one goal.

The Penguins' special teams, after dominating Thursday's game, failed on all five power-play attempts, including a five-minute advantage in the first period. All but one of Washington's goals were at even strength, where the Capitals have dominated the series, outscoring the NHL's regular-season scoring champions, 14-6.

Caps vs. Penguins

Washington leads series, 3-1

Game 1: Washington 3, Pittsburgh 1

Game 2: Washington 6, Pittsburgh 2

Game 3: Pittsburgh 6, Washington 4

Game 4: Washington 7, Pittsburgh 2

Today: At Washington, 7:35 p.m.

Wednesday: At Pittsburgh, 7:35 p.m.*

Friday: At Washington, 7:35 p.m.*

* -- if necessary

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