Langway's return 'frustrating,' but Murray eases Capital's pain


LANDOVER -- It wasn't the kind of return to action veteran Washington defenseman Rod Langway had in mind, but it wasn't bad for the first night back, according to Capitals coach Terry Murray.

Langway, who was sidelined while deciding whether he would accept a part-time role and then while recovering from knee and shoulder surgery, returned to the lineup for the first time in 30 games Saturday night in a 4-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

"It was frustrating being on the ice for two goals," Langway said of his comeback. "The first one, just be- fore the end of the first period and then the last one that made it a tight game again."

On the first one, Edmonton rookie Shjon Podein scored his first NHL goal from the top of the circle when Caps goalie Jim Hrivnak was screened with less than a second to play in the first period.

On the second, Oiler Shayne Corson was able to find enough room to get around Langway for Edmonton's final goal with 2:18 left.

"I'm sure it was hard for him, to be right there on a couple of them," Murray said. "Rod takes a lot of pride in keeping the puck out of the net. But on the second one, it was the only play left for Corson."

Murray added that if the defenseman is "right on the guy, that play isn't going to happen."

"When it's your first game back, you're going to be playing a little soft," the coach said. "I thought Rod looked fine and, actually, I played him more than I had originally planned.

"Overall, I would say he did a great job out there. He added a lot of enthusiasm to our locker room, did a big job on the penalty kill and blocked a couple of big shots early in the first period. He also made a couple of fine, really smart plays coming out of our own zone that I guess you've got to say comes from a veteran player."

Saturday's victory, which came from solid defensive play and from the offensive prowess of Capitals center Michal Pivonka, extends Washington's home unbeaten streak to 10 games, two shy of the club record set in 1982. The Capitals, in second place in the Patrick Division, will play four road games before returning here Jan. 23 to play the Ottawa Senators.

Pivonka set up Washington's first two goals. The first was a power-play goal by Dale Hunter with 2:55 gone in the first period, and the second was an even-strength goal by Kevin Hatcher a little more than two minutes later.

Pivonka gave the Capitals a 3-2 lead with 11:33 gone in the second period, when he picked up a rebound off a shot by Peter Bondra.

Capitals forward Dimitri Khristich scored Washington's final goal at the end of a 2-on-1 break with Al Iafrate at 12:11 of the third period.

Capitals defenseman Calle Johansson sustained bruised ribs in the second period, which was one reason Langway got more playing time. It is also a reason why he may get more, depending on Johansson's recovery time. Murray said he would know more today.

Saturday's game turned out to be extremely dangerous. Not only did Johansson have to leave the game, but two Edmonton players were carried off the ice after serious injuries.

Center Shaun Van Allen slipped while chasing Hatcher behind the Capitals goal and hit the back of his head against the boards. He was taken to Georgetown Hospital for observation.

Kelly Buchberger needed 15 stitches after his helmet was shattered and his head cut when he was hit by the puck.

NOTES: Capitals GM David Poile said the club will recall D Shawn Anderson today from the Skipjacks. Anderson had been with Baltimore for two weeks of conditioning and, according to league rules, had to be recalled or placed on waivers.

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