Caps' brain trust seeks to capitalize on 1st win

The Washington Capitals had yesterday off, but general manager David Poile and coach Terry Murray were in their offices.

Poile was doing "desk work," and Murray was looking at films of Saturday night's 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.


The win was the Capitals' first in seven tries.

"The win is a huge relief for everyone," said Poile. "The trick is to pick up on the positive momentum. But we're 1-6, and we're absolutely not happy with where we are. How could anyone be? But we've got our first win, and that makes it a lot better."


On Saturday, Peter Bondra and Randy Burridge scored in the first period for a 2-0 lead. And after Buffalo's Scott Thomas, Craig Simpson and Dale Hawerchuk scored to take a 3-2 lead 1:30 into the third period, Washington kept driving to the net.

Todd Krygier tied the game with assists from Kelly Miller and Dave Poulin, and Al Iafrate scored the winning goal with 6:57 to play off assists from Poulin and Krygier.

L Rookie Pat Peake got his first NHL point on an assist on Bur

ridge's first goal of the season.

Neither Poile nor Murray says it is coincidence that the Capitals began turning things around when forwards Peake and Steve Konowalchuk and goalie Byron Dafoe were called up from Portland Thursday.

With the three players in the lineup Friday, Washington played its first competitive game, though losing to Philadelphia, 3-0, and followed it with a win Saturday.

"Konowalchuk and Peake are playing at the top of their games right now," said Murray. "They're giving us a lot of energy, and they're giving us some options. Their presence means three veterans are forced out of the lineup every night, and that's a good combination. It means we have three new players, plus several veterans get an extra day of rest."

But it is an expensive remedy, Poile said.


"We're not going to carry three extra forwards very long," Poile said. "It means some players are going to have to start playing better or face being sent down."

Poile said the current arrangement probably will continue until Nov. 1, when the team returns from a five-game, seven-day Western road trip that begins in Edmonton on Sunday.