Capitals sputter again in loss to Flyers Offense struggles in 6-2 defeat HOCKEY


PHILADELPHIA -- The Washington Capitals can't wait to get to practice tomorrow. It is there they hope to find their offense.

After a 6-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers last night, it was more apparent than ever that the Capitals haven't found it yet.

"With all our preseason games and all our travel, it's taken a toll," said coach Terry Murray, whose team is 4-3-1. "I'm not interested in making excuses, but our quality practice time has been impeded. We haven't had a chance to do any work on the power play or in the offensive part of the game."

For nearly 2 1/2 periods last night, the eighth game in 10 days for the Caps, the two teams were about even -- which isn't saying much given the Flyers haven't made the playoffs in four years.

But then the Flyers broke away on two two-on-one breaks within 35 seconds of each other for goals by Mark Recchi and Josef Beranek and the Capitals never recovered.

A marvelous goalkeeping performance by Don Beaupre was wasted, along with some good special-teams play -- Al Iafrate had a power-play goal and Dave Poulin a short-handed goal.

The Flyers took the lead at 3-2 with 6.8 seconds left in the second period, when a pass by Mikael Renberg bounced off Capitals defenseman Kevin Hatcher's skate into the net.

Beranek made it 4-2 on an even-strength goal in the third, and then Craig Berube took what he called "a dumb" penalty that opened the way for Rod Brind'Amour's power-play goal that made it 5-2 with 6:24 left.

"When you're down by two, you've still got a chance," said Berube. "But then I took a dumb penalty I shouldn't have taken and that was it."

Murray was less critical of his team, choosing to look at the positives.

"The things that happened out there were things we brought on ourselves -- on most every goal," Murray said. "The turnovers, over-handling the puck, maybe not supporting each other the right way on the breakouts or in the neutral zone. Those are areas that are correctable.

There were 34 penalties in the game for 114 minutes.

NOTES: The NHL suspended Toronto's Doug Gilmour for one preseason game and fined him the $500 maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement, for head-butting Washington's Enrico Ciccone on Thursday. "Does that mean that during the regular season it is an automatic one-game suspension if one player head-butts another?" said Capitals general manager David Poile, who is still hoping NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will review the 21-game regular-season penalty being served by Dale Hunter for a late hit on Pierre Turgeon of the New York Islanders during last spring playoff game. "There is a lot of room between that one-game suspension to Gilmour and what is really a 30-game suspension on Hunter, counting the preseason games." . . . Capitals forward Dimitri Khristich (back spasms) didn't play last night, but is expected back tomorrow.

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