LANDOVER - Sitting eighth in the NHL's tight Eastern Conference playoff race, the Washington Capitals responded with the biggest shutout performance in team history and left the 13,172 fans at USAir Arena dazzled and screaming.
Goalie Jim Carey turned in his league-leading seventh shutout of the season, blanking Vancouver, the third-most potent offensive team in the league, 9-0.
While Carey was making 21 saves, the Capitals offense was turning in its biggest offensive performance since Dec. 17, 1993, when it beat Ottawa, 11-2. The attack was led by left wing Todd Krygier, who was making his home-ice debut after having been re-acquired by the Capitals on Friday. He had two goals and two assists on a line with Pat Peake (two goals, one assist) and Joe Juneau (three assists).
The victory broke the Caps record for winning margin with a shutout, besting the 8-0 margins it produced three times, the last time Oct. 29, 1991 in Pittsburgh.
"It was a minor explosion, a major explosion of goals," said Peake. "It was a great team effort. Their goaltending was shaky and we were just trying to get the puck on the net, and most of them were going in."
The victory ends a two-game losing streak and moves the Capitals up two spots to sixth in the Eastern Conference standings. They have two days to prepare for Friday's game here against the Boston Bruins.
It was the first game Peake, Juneau and Krygier have played together, and they produced 10 points.
"We seemed to click tonight," said Krygier, who smiled happily over his home debut. "I think the best thing about this is we won. I didn't expect to come in here and do this. My expectation was to play a role and try to contribute. But this was fun. You've got to like this night."
Washington traded Krygier to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim on Feb. 2, 1995. When Capitals general manager David Poile traded to regain his services Friday, Poile pointed to Krygier as a more mature and better player. Yesterday, he showed it.
"[But] I never saw this Vancouver team before," he said. "They always play really well. Tonight, we obviously outplayed them."
Besides goals by Krygier and Peake, there were power-play goals by Calle Johansson and Sergei Gonchar and even-strength scores by Kelly Miller, Mark Tinordi and Peter Bondra, who ended a six-game goal-less streak.
Vancouver goalie Corey Hirsch faced six of Washington's 31 shots and stopped three after replacing starter Kirk McLean after Krygier's first goal made it 3-0. After the game, he was still searching for answers.
"I go in, and all of a sudden, the next thing I know, I'm looking behind me in the net again," he said. "I went in for 10 minutes, got scored on and left. We have to learn something from this. But I can't even explain it. I think we are all scratching our heads, wondering what happened."
There was no mystery for Carey, who said he simply has "a great team in front of [him]," and that helped him get his third shutout in four games. Carey has allowed one goal in the past 293 minutes, 28 seconds he has played. NOTE: RW Keith Jones suffered a groin pull and is expected to be out from two to three weeks.
Pub Date: 3/13/96