UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- A year ago, the Washington Capitals won every regular-season game they played here at the Nassau Coliseum, but the trend stopped last night, as Washington lost, 6-4, and conjured up memories of postseason play with the New York Islanders, who always came up with the big goal when it mattered and left the Capitals faithful wondering why.
The question was still relevant after Islanders Travis Green anDerek King scored in the third period, but the answer in this one might not be such a mystery.
Every Islanders goal came on a rush, on a counterattack otwo-on-one or three-on-one, that left goalie Rick Tabaracci feeling as if he fell into a black hole.
"I think we just pushed the button too hard offensively,Tabaracci said. "We were out there trying so hard to score and we did score. But at the same time, we have to remember to play a well-rounded game."
Capitals center Dave Poulin stated it more strongly.
"The Islanders got none of their goals from hard work," Poulisaid. "None of them were from working down low, none of them from turnovers in front of the net. All of them came on the rush, and that's a combination of three things.
"No. 1, the forwards aren't picking up the proper guy comindown the ice. No. 2, the defenders are getting caught up in the play and No. 3, the forwards aren't compensating and covering for them. Six goals on the rush and that should never happen."
And yet, this game could have gone either way, until with 17:5to play in the third period, an apparent goal by Calle Johansson was disallowed on a review and a shot by Al Iafrate banged off the post.
After that, everything went the Islanders' way.
First it was Green getting his hat trick, when Tabaracci tried tshut down half of the two-man breakaway by leaning to his left to attempt a save. But Joe Day passed across the crease to Green for the tap-in and a 5-3 lead, to the delight of the 10,223 assembled.
After the Capitals again returned the margin to one, at 5-4 wit10:47 to play on a goal by Dimitri Khristich, King came through for the Islanders' sixth goal with 5:03 to play.
/# "It was a very ugly and frightening win," said Islanders coach Al Arbour. "If it hadn't been for Hexy [goalie Ron Hextall] bailing us out, we would never have survived."
Capitals coach Terry Murray who is trying to get his team'offense going, was left to ponder a mixed blessing.
"We played awfully well [offensively], but you can't give up those kinds of odd-man rushes and win."
The Capitals' four-goal production was one of its best this season. Only twice have they scored more. But the Islanders' six goals were the most the Capitals have allowed since Oct. 11, when the Toronto Maple Leafs scored seven and added the fifth loss to what would be a season-opening six straight defeats for the Capitals.
The defensive lapse wiped out an exciting first period, in whicWashington started the scoring with just 1:28 gone.
Mike Ridley picked up the puck near the slot for a 1-0 lead. And it was not yet two minutes old when Green and Patrick Flatley got a two-on-one break that tied it up.
Todd Krygier and Kevin Hatcher also scored in the period, aWashington forged its way to 2-1 and 3-2 leads, before New York got back-to-back goals from King and Benoit Hogue to take the 4-3 lead into the locker room at the end of the period.
Neither team scored in the second, as the game deteriorateinto posturing, fights and other unruly conduct.
NOTES: Peter Bondra, still suffering from a slashed hand, did noplay last night. . . . G Olie Kolzig was to return to Portland today.
Washington .. .3 0 1 -- 4
N.Y. Islanders 4 0 2 -- 6
First period--1, Washington, Ridley 7 (Johansson, Burridge), 1:28. New York, Green 5 (Flatley, Lachance), 1:53. 3, Washington, Krygier 5 (Iafrate, Ridley), 3:51. 4, New York, Green 6 (McInnis, Flatley), 5:54. 5, Washington, Hatcher 5 (Ridley, Iafrate), 7:27 (pp). 6, New York, King 12 (Volek, Turgeon), 8:02. 7, New York, Hogue 10 (Thomas, Malakhov), 16:17. Penalties--Berube, Was, major (fighting), 2:27; Vukota, NY, major (fighting), 2:27; Kurvers, NY (interference), 7:02; Chynoweth, NY (holding), 9:23; Konowalchuk, Was (holding), 12:51.
Second period--None. Penalties--Curran, Was (unsportsmanlike conduct), 4:12; Flatley, NY (unsportsmanlike conduct), 4:12; Berube, Was, major (fighting), 11:19; Vukota, NY, major (fighting), 11:19; Konowalchuk, Was (roughing), 11:27; Chynoweth, NY (roughing), 11:27; Hatcher, Was (roughing), 14:03; King, NY (holding stick), 14:19; Ridley, Was (roughing), 14:47; Vaske, NY (roughing), 14:47.
Third period--8, New York, Green 7 (McInnis), 8:00. 9, Washington, Khristich 12 (Poulin, Krygier), 9:13. 10, New York, King 13 (Turgeon, Malakhov), 14:57. Penalties--Berube, Was, minor-misconduct (delay of game), :09; Vukota, NY, minor-misconduct (delay of game), :09; Hatcher, Was (unsportsmanlike conduct), :41; Chynoweth, NY (unsportsmanlike conduct), :41; Khristich, Was (unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:16; Kurvers, NY (unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:16; Poulin, Was (roughing), 13:27; Kurvers, NY (roughing), 13:27; Green, NY (holding), 15:10.
Shots on goal--Washington 10-12-16--38. New York 13-4-7--24. Power-play opportunities--Washington 1 of 4; New York 0 of 2. Goalies--Washington, Tabaracci, 5-5-0 (24 shots-18 saves). New York, Hextall, 8-10-2 (38-34). A--10,223. Referee--Drew Taylor. Linesmen--Paul Flaherty, Dennis Sholes.