Offense disappears in Caps loss


HARTFORD, Conn. -- Within 24 hours, the goals were gone.

In the second game of the Washington Capitals' weekend against teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, their offense evaporated in a 4-1 loss to the Hartford Whalers before 9,747 last night at the Civic Center.

Coming off an 11-2 victory Friday over the worst team in the conference (Ottawa, with 17 points), the Capitals could have carried their biggest offensive output of the season over against the conference's second-worst team. But Hartford (10-19-3) outplayed Washington (14-16-2) and got solid goaltending from Sean Burke.

"[The Whalers] played well, but I don't think they played as well as we played bad," Capitals' Todd Krygier said. "It's tough coming back after a game like Friday. But we were just flat. We beat ourselves. We moved the puck better Friday. Some of it was Hartford, but mainly it was us. We didn't skate."

Burke, a former Canadian Olympian, stopped 29 shots. The only goal he gave up came on a two on one, as Michal Pivonka scored in the second period. That goal tied the score, but did nothing to ignite the Capitals offense. The Capitals had two chances early in the third, but Burke made kick saves on wrists shots by Randy Burridge and Sylvain Cote. Both were alone inside the right circle.

But for the rest of the third, Washington applied little pressure on Burke (2-3-2).

Meanwhile, Capitals goalie Don Beaupre was solid. He gave up a goal at 16:01 of the third, but he didn't get much help. Hartford's Randy Cunneyworth was alone in the goal mouth and knocked his rebound in after taking a pass.

After falling behind 1-0 with a lethargic first period, the Capitals needed 1:17 to tie it in the second.

Krygier, who came to Washington in a trade from Hartford two years ago, took a pass from Dimitri Khristich and broke in with Pivonka on a two on one. Krygier's pass through the slot eluded defenseman Zarley Zalapski, and Pivonka one-timed it past Burke for his fifth goal of the season.

But the Capitals' run didn't last. After killing a penalty -- Kelly Miller went off for interference at 6:07 -- the Capitals gave up the go-ahead goal. Hartford's Jim Sandlak took a loose puck in the goal mouth and knocked it past Beaupre.

The Whalers threatened to make it a two-goal game, but Beaupre made a sprawling save on a breakaway by Robert Kron with 7:29 left. Beaupre wasn't as fortunate later in the period, when Zalapski took a pass from Michael Nylander and scored on C a slap shot from the deep slot to give Hartford a 3-1 lead.

NOTES: Pivonka left early in the third period after he was hit in the ribs by an Al Iafrate shot. Pivonka will have his ribs X-rayed today. . . . Brian Burke, NHL director of hockey operations, was at the game after meeting with Hartford D Bryan Marchment. Marchment knocked Rangers F Mike Gartner into a goal post Wednesday and is serving a suspension for incurring his third major penalty of the season. Burke, who said he would look at video of the incident, will decide if Marchment deserves further punishment.

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