Montreal tops Caps, Carey, 5-2


MONTREAL -- The mystique is gone from rookie goalie Jim Carey now, after the Washington Capitals' 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens last night.

But that isn't Carey's fault, or Washington coach Jim Schoenfeld's, who gave his starter a day off after 21 straight starts Sunday.

"There were five guys in front of him that have to blame themselves," said Caps defenseman Calle Johansson, whose third-period goal couldn't prevent Washington's fifth loss in its past six games. "He shouldn't take any blame for this."

After sitting on the sidelines while goalie Olie Kolzig took a 4-2 loss at the hands of the Quebec Nordiques on Sunday, "The Kid" was back in net with his 14-5-2 record and his NHL-best 1.85 goals-against average last night.

And disproving those who questioned if the rookie would lose his edge by sitting out after Friday's shutout, Carey looked and said he felt as sharp as ever. During the first two periods, he did everything from making point-blank glove saves, to literally turning somersaults to stop the puck from going into the net and finished with 24 saves.

But that wasn't good enough to beat Montreal's Patrick Roy, who stopped 30 shots.

Carey couldn't have done much more early on, but with his teammates unable to keep the Canadiens out of his zone, and showing no ability to take Montreal out of its game by scoring goals of their own, Carey remained at risk and eventually could hold out no longer after keeping the Caps within 2-1 after two periods.

"It's no fun to lose, and every game you lose you hate it that much more," Carey said. "Four goals shouldn't happen. If anyone wants to blame me, blame me."

But no one did, because no one could.

With defensive gaps and no offensive support, there was no hope for Washington, which goes home for a rest after having played five games in seven days.

Keith Jones scored on a power play in the first 2:38 of the game, and then Montreal, which had managed just 13 goals in its previous six games, scored four straight before Washington was able to score on another power play by Johansson with 6:17 to play.

NB Montreal got a hat trick from Pierre Turgeon and single scores

from Brian Savage and Vincent Damphousse. Mark Recchi, like Turgeon obtained in a trade earlier this year, added four assists.

Turgeon's third goal came into an empty net with 20.1 seconds to play.

After the game, the Caps held a short team meeting.

"We just wanted to make sure we didn't let this get to us too badly," said Jones. "We've lost two games that were really important to us and we don't want to let this devastate our team.

"We're going to rest up for three days and regroup for Hartford. There is no time for sitting here and being negative. We're got to practice as a team this week and then come out as a team Friday."

The Caps haven't been on their game in the past two weeks. Since beating the New York Islanders, 5-4, on April 4, Washington is 1-5 -- and in five of those six the Caps have scored two or fewer goals.

At 17-17-7, Washington now has 41 points and remains in sixth place primarily because the rest of the Eastern Conference had the night off.

Montreal, meanwhile, climbed within two points of the New York Rangers and Hartford Whalers, who are tied for the final conference playoff spot with 39 points.

"We're sorely lacking offensive production when the game is on the line," Schoenfeld said. "We have a chance to take the lead or take the momentum away. It's a 1-1 hockey game, who's going to get the next goal? Or it's a 2-1 hockey game, are they going to get the third or are we going to tie it up 2-2? All it does is put an extraordinary amount of pressure on our goaltender, on our defensemen and on the line that we have designated to check their big offensive line.

"So what happens is if our goaltender happens to let in a bad goal or someone misses coverage, and they score, it becomes almost an insurmountable lead. So we're still in the same predicament, the same problem. We need more offensive production. . . . When we were winning, we were getting the timely goals. Lately, our timing has not been good."

Even Caps right wing Peter Bondra, who came into the game with goals in 12 of his past 13 games, was held firmly in check, managing just one breakaway that was shut off by defenseman Vladimir Malakhov.

NOTES: Washington signed Alexander Kharlamov to a three-year contract. Kharlamov, 19, was the team's second choice (15th overall) in the first round of the 1994 entry draft. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound left wing had six goals and three assists in 50 games with CSKA Moscow last season, his third season with the elite Red Army program. Kharlamov, son of the legendary late Russian forward Valeri Kharlamov, will join Washington in training camp this fall. Washington also signed left wing Richard Zednik, 19, (10th pick, 249th overall in 1994) to a two-year contract, and free-agent defenseman Alexandre Alexeev, 21, to a one-year deal.

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