Tabaracci's 33 saves net Capitals 4-0 win Earns shutout in second start


LANDOVER -- Playing for the Washington Capitals obviously agrees with goalie Rick Tabaracci.

Two games started. One shutout recorded.

Tabaracci stopped every shot Montreal mustered last night, as the Capitals beat the Canadiens, 4-0.

It was the second shutout of Tabaracci's career.

"It's a rebirth for me," said Tabaracci. "It's exciting to have an opportunity and to play for a team like this."

It was the second time Montreal has been shutout in four games.

The victory moved the second-place Capitals five points ahead of the idle New Jersey Devils in the Patrick Division.

With 16,321 in the stands at the Capital Centre, Tabaracci used his padded legs, his arms, his knees and his stick to stop 33 shots.

"I had a feeling early on," said the 24-year-old goalie, who was acquired in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets on March 22. "My feeling is, if you're going to get a shutout, you're going to get some bounces and we got some early."

When Montreal left wing John Leclair put one past him with 3:48 to go in the first period, he kept his cool, and the officials waved off the score because Leclair had directed the puck into the net with his leg.

In the second period, Tabaracci faced 13 shots. In the third, Montreal unloaded 10 more, but no one, not Gilbert Dionne firing point blank, nor Brian Bellows taking a slap shot from long range, could get past Tabaracci.

"He simply played great," said Capitals coach Terry Murray. "He got a couple breaks with pucks hitting the post, but he was under control all night and made the big saves.

"But this was a team shutout," Murray continued. "We played smart and responsibly away from the puck. We didn't give up many second shots and I think it has to be a confidence builder for everyone."

Washington was in control 3-0 with 2:49 to play, when defenseman Kevin Hatcher put the game away with a sizzling slap shot from the blue line.

It was Washington's second shut out of the season. The other came on the road against the New York Islanders, when Don Beaupre won 3-0.

The Washington offense struck early in the second period. Alan May made a big check that freed the puck near the blue line with 17:43 left in the period. Peter Bondra picked up the loose puck, and skated in close to score his 35th goal of the season for a 2-0 lead.

The Capitals and Canadiens went four-on-four midway through the period after Al Iafrate retaliated when Dionne knocked Tabaracci off his feet.

Shortly after that, the Capitals went back on the attack.

With 9:57 gone, Pat Elynuik unloaded a slap shot from near the top of the left circle that froze Montreal goalie Patrick Roy.

By the end of the second period, Tabaracci had made 20 saves and Washington held a 3-0 lead.

Tabaracci benefited from the Capitals' solid defensive play that

kept Montreal busy around the boards.

The first period was nearly over when Iafrate took a little starch out of Montreal.

With 30 seconds left in the period, Bellows was called for roughing, setting up a Capitals power play.

As Hunter struggled to keep Montreal's defense tied up away from the net, Dimitri Kristich passed to Iafrate at the top of the right circle with 12 seconds left and the big defenseman wound up a slap shot that hit the far post and clanged into the net.

It was as good as a hole in one, a power-play goal for a 1-0 lead just as the period was about to end.

The power-play goal by Iafrate broke an 0-for-12 string for the Capitals.

NOTES: The Capitals have nominated RW Alan May for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy that goes to the player who best exemplified leadership qualities on and off the ice. May is involved with the Have-A-Heart Campaign and Children's Hospital and is also associated with the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation Readathon and has visited local schools and been the host at fund raisers for the MS Society. . . . Reggie Savage and Bob Carpenter were scratched from the Capitals' lineup last night. . . . Montreal scratched two of its top defensemen, Patrice Brisebois (10 goals, 20 assists) and Eric Desjardins (13 goals, 29 assists), plus RW Oleg Petrov, C Denis Savard and LW Mario Roberge.

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