Caps slip ahead of Panthers, 2-1


MIAMI -- Don Beaupre stopped 21 shots and Michal Pivonka and Randy Burridge scored goals last night as the Washington Capitals defeated the Florida Panthers, 2-1, in an Atlantic Division game.

The Capitals continued their inspired play under coach Jim Schoenfeld. Washington is 9-3-2 under Schoenfeld, who was hired Jan. 27.

The victory put the Capitals (29-26-6) in sole possession of third place with 64 points. Florida (26-24-10) is in fourth with 62 points.

Washington survived a late rally by the Panthers, who trailed 2-0 after Pivonka's third-period goal, his 10th of the season. Bob Kudelski, the Panthers' leading scorer, slapped a shot past Beaupre that hit the crossbar and went in the net with 5:00 left. It was Kudelski's 36th goal.

The Panthers created numerous, desperate chances in the final minutes, including several open shots that Beaupre stopped.

Beaupre will be carrying a heavy load in goal because of the recent injury to Rick Tabaracci, who sprained his right knee and will miss about a week. Last night, Beaupre shined.

He is unbeaten in eight of his past nine games, with his most recent loss against the Panthers Jan. 19.

The game was the start of a crucial Atlantic home-and-home series for both teams. The Capitals will play host to Florida tomorrow.

The teams came into last night's game tied for third place in the Atlantic Division with 62 points.

Beaupre had started all three of Washington's previous games against the Panthers, winning once and losing twice, including a 5-1 loss Jan. 19, the last time the Capitals played at Miami Arena.

Washington dominated the second period defensively, not allowing the Panthers a shot on goal. It was the first time in Florida's short history that the Panthers have not had a shot on goal in a period.

It was also the first time the Capitals had held a team without a shot while on the road. The only other time Washington kept a team without a shot was at the Capital Centre in Landover on Dec. 26, 1975, against Minnesota.

On Florida's only genuine chance the entire period, defenseman Brian Benning slipped through two Capitals defenders, but fanned on the shot. Later, Gord Murphy's shot from the point bounced off Washington's Kelly Miller and out of the zone, typifying the period for Florida.

Washington had eight shots on goal during the second period, but Vanbiesbrouck stopped them all.

The Capitals, whose season-high seven-game unbeaten streak ended with a 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Monday, scored short-handed at 2:48 of the first period for a 1-0 lead.

About one minute after Washington's Keith Jones was sent to the penalty box for slashing, Randy Burridge picked up Al Iafrate's clearing pass at mid-ice, skated in and flicked a 20-foot wrist shot past Vanbiesbrouck. It was Burridge's 18th goal and Iafrate's 30th assist.

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