Capitals rough up Penguins, 6-2


LANDOVER -- This time it was total domination, and the team doing the dominating was the Washington Capitals.

Last night, with the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal series tied at one game each, the Capitals simply pounded the Pittsburgh Penguins with a heart-pumping, 6-2 victory at USAir Arena.

It was the kind of game Washington had promised itself. A full, 60 minutes.

And it was the kind of game the Capitals' faithful have come to expect from rookie goaltender Jim Carey, who demonstrated why he is a top candidate for Rookie of the Year in the NHL.

Carey made 21 saves before finally letting the puck in the net, and by that time, Calle Johansson, Keith Jones (twice), Peter Bondra and Joe Juneau had given him a 5-0 lead to play with. Carey finished with 23 saves.

"We wanted this game as bad as we wanted the other one, but we played like we wanted it more," said Jones. "That's the key. We got the feeling from our coach. We got the message loud and clear that that wasn't Capitals hockey [in Games 1 and 2]. We came out here tonight and showed a great deal of character, from the penalty killers, to the goaltender to the power play.

"Jim was in a zone tonight. And it was great to come home and watch him play like that in a huge game for us, and getting his first playoff win. A super feeling for him and my hat goes off to Mike Eagles and a lot of other players on the penalty-killing unit."

When Ron Francis redirected the puck past Carey to make it 5-1 with 12:40 to play, and Luc Robitaille netted one when Carey got burned by Joe Mullen picking off his behind-the-net pass and feeding Robitaille for an easy put-away to make it 5-2 with 11:54 left, the Capitals were still very much in control.

And to remove any doubt, Johansson scored for the second time to produce the final score. After Washington had built its 5-0 lead, the game deteriorated into a series of penalties brought on by apparent Pittsburgh frustration and Washington determination.

"All we wanted to do was establish some momentum tonight and get a win out of it," said Joe Reekie.

The Penguins were one of nine on the power play, and Washington was three-for-10.

"You know what, they say if you take care of your own end the goals will come," said Johansson, who scored Washington's first and last goal. "And I think that's the key. We took care of our own end pretty good and because of that, we got the offense going."

Some Pittsburgh frustration came with 7:21 left, when the Penguins' Jaromir Jagr crushed Dale Hunter (two assists) against the boards and then punched him. Kevin Stevens arrived as the third man in to do what damage he could. Both received two-minute roughing penalties.

That gave the Capitals a five-on-three advantage for two full minutes. Then, 29 seconds into the power play, Johansson scored for the second time with a slap shot from the point to build the lead to 6-2 with 6:53 to play.

"We were more in their face tonight and we checked tighter than we did the first two," said Johansson. "It could have been a shutout, but they scored a power play and then an unfortunate one when we screwed up their behind our own net. But I think we did a pretty good job.

"It's typical playoff hockey. It's going to be tough. It's going to be hard. We know that. You've got to bump and grind to win some games and we know that too."

Eleven seconds after Michal Pivonka missed a penalty shot against Pittsburgh's Tom Barrasso, who had relieved Ken Wregget at the start of the third period, Juneau scored his first playoff goal of the season for the 5-0 lead.

Wregget made 13 saves on 18 shots. Barrasso made nine saves on 10 shots in the third period.

The first two periods looked like a Capitals game. It sounded like one, too. Boards shook, glass rattled, bodies suffered, and the Capitals methodically built a 4-0 lead.

It started with 3:01 gone in the first period, when Caps captain Hunter won the faceoff in the Pittsburgh zone and defenseman Johansson shattered the calm of Wregget with a shot from just inside the blue line that settled into the far corner of the net behind Wregget's left arm.

Tuesday, the Capitals had held a team meeting to recommit themselves to the Caps' style of hockey: close checking, hard hitting and giving up the body for the team.

With the USAir Arena crowd of 17,021 slapping their "Game Five Clappers", the giveaway item of the night, Washington spent the first period in the Penguins' faces and evidently liked it so much, they spent the second period there, too.

And goalie Carey looked more like the Jim Carey, whose nickname is Ace, The Net Detective, carrying a 19-save shutout into the final period.

Frustration mounted for Pittsburgh in the middle period. Jones scored an even-strength, open-net goal with 6:58 gone, when Joe Juneau was able to get the puck to a streaking Sergei Gonchar, who made a terrific cross pass to Jones.

Jones scored on the power play with 14:27 gone to make the score 4-0, and in between, the NHL's leading scorer, Bondra, put away a power-play goal from Sylvain Cote and Dimitri Khristich.



(Washington leads series, 2-1)

Game 1: Capitals, 5-4

Game 2: Penguins, 5-3

Game 3: Capitals, 6-2

Tomorrow: at Wash., 7:30 p.m.

Sunday: at Pittsburgh, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: at Wash., 7:30 p.m.*

May 18: at Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m.*

*--If necessary

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