Capitals blow lead again, lose to Red Wings, 7-5

LANDOVER — LANDOVER -- The Washington Capitals came into last night's game against the Detroit Red Wings desperate for a victory. They came out blowing a two-goal lead in the final eight minutes to lose, 7-5.

Call it Nightmare II.


The Capitals were coming off one of their worst performances in a long time, a 5-4, last-minute loss to the Minnesota North Stars on Wednesday.

And last night, though the winning goal came with 3:45 to play, the scenario was much the same.


The Capitals had played themselves into a mighty hole before last night's game. And the thought of playing Norris Division-leading Detroit, with former Capitals star Dino Ciccarelli returning for the first time, was a major challenge.

But the Capitals came out slugging. And when things got tight at the end of two periods, the Capitals responded with goals by Peter Bondra and Mike Ridley to take a 5-3 lead, which made the second collapse in two games that much harder to take.

In the locker room, Beaupre sat alone, his shirt off, his goaltending pads still on, staring straight ahead.

"It is unbelievable," said Beaupre. "I can't believe it. Twice in two games. Things were going fine for 50 minutes and then, boom! I can't seem to get behind anything. Everything goes in."

But last night's loss could not be blamed solely on Beaupre. "A goalie can only make so many saves," defenseman Al Iafrate said. "They don't pay these forwards a million bucks not to take their chances. Even if we only allow one in five shots, it means you lose a lot of games when they score in the final minutes."

And Beaupre made 21 saves last night, many of them excellent.

"We've proven game in and game out that we're in control and then we tank it when it comes down to it," Ridley said. "We're up 5-3 and then we give them all the time in the world to set up their shots."

The Capitals (7-12-1) had taken a 2-1 lead on goals by Reggie Savage and Bondra in the first period. A goal by Ridley off a terrific blue-line pass from Bondra in the second enabled the Capitals to stay even at 3-3.


And when Bondra and Ridley scored in the first 12 minutes of the third, the Capitals looked well on their way to victory.

"I felt really different behind the bench tonight," said Detroit coach Bryan Murray, brother of Capitals coach Terry Murray. "As the game went on and we made the comeback, I thought a couple of our goals were bad goals.

"And I felt kind of sad, because Terry's team had played well and I know Terry has been working really hard to get it going. But you've got to win the games that are there to win."

This one was there, and Steve Yzerman, the Red Wing's leading scorer, eluded the Capitals' defense for a 40-foot slap shot past Beaupre with 8:01 to play to make it 5-4.

Then the Red Wings' Sheldon Kennedy, who was falling, managed to wrist a shot past Beaupre with 4:27 to go to tie it, 5-5.

"We knew that they've been struggling in the third when they have the lead," said Ciccarelli. "We just kept plugging away. We knew if we got the fourth one they would be thinking about it in the back of their minds, and fortunately it worked for us."