Caps, Carey hold off Stars, 2-1 lift playoff hopes; Poile stands pat as foes trade up for closing run


LANDOVER - The Washington Capitals won a big game yesterday in their season-ending drive to make the NHL postseason party.

The Caps beat the Dallas Stars, 2-1, by turning in another strong defensive performance, getting tremendous goaltending from Jim Carey in critical moments and making the most of two beautiful goals by Peter Bondra and Michal Pivonka. Carey tied Don Beaupre's club record, set in 1991-92, for wins in a season at 29.

It was a perfect day for the 18th sellout crowd of the season at USAir Arena and for the Capitals, who have to win this way. And it probably was a demonstration of how they are going to have to continue to win all the way to the Stanley Cup if they're going to get there this season.

Although the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils all have made moves to improve their offenses, the Capitals, who have scored less than any of them, have made only one small trade, regaining the services of left wing Todd Krygier.

That trade has benefited Washington to some extent, providing depth and an offensive lift with Krygier contributing three goals and three assists in four games.

But it is not the big deal that longtime Capitals fans are hoping to see by Wednesday's trading deadline.

"Why should we react to what everyone else does?" asked Capitals general manager David Poile. "If another general manager jumps off a bridge, do you want me to jump off a bridge?

"We are interested in finding a goal scorer, but we may not be able to do that this year."

It seems almost everyone else is. But Poile said he was not interested in Dave Andreychuk, who was traded from Toronto to New Jersey this week. And he wasn't interested in Ray Sheppard, who went from San Jose to Florida.

"It's not my place to talk about individual players, but there are all kinds of goal scorers," he said. "There are young ones like Teemu Selanne, who is age 24, and there are old ones like Andreychuk, at 33. There are fast players, slow players, players who can play in all situations, power-play specialists. All kinds."

But so far the Capitals haven't been able to snag the right player.

When Poile was asked if he hadn't made a deal because: a) he has faith in the players he has; b) his hands are tied financially; or c) he simply hasn't been able to put together a deal, Poile chose the first reason.

"But that's not to say there haven't been some situations I would have liked to have been part of," said Poile, who was rumored to have had a deal for Selanne last January only to have Winnipeg change its mind. "But those situations didn't work out."

In the locker room, the Capitals have little time to worry about the comings and goings on other teams. Last night, team captain Dale Hunter shrugged it off.

"I worry about myself, my team and the players here," said Hunter when asked about the trades. "We have a team right here and we've got to go win. We can't worry about the stuff we can't control. Tonight, we got a big win. Ace [Carey] was spectacular."

Carey, who made 28 saves before giving up a goal with 51.1 seconds left to Joe Nieuwendyk in a mad scramble in front of the net, anchored the victory that moves Washington off the Eastern Conference bubble and into a tie for sixth with Montreal and Tampa Bay.

"I know David will make a move if he feels he can improve the team," said Caps coach Jim Schoenfeld. "But I'm happy with our team. I think we can win. I think this team has taken a great deal of pride throughout the season from being able to pull together and win some big games when we've been short-manned. We have a pretty good chemistry."

The Capitals, it seems, aren't willing to mess that up for just anyone.

"There are some goal scorers who are going to have numbers," said Schoenfeld. "And there are goal scorers who are going to score in critical situations, who are going to be good scorers in the playoffs, who are going to be good scorers in tight checking situations, when it's 1-1 and you need the second goal. . . . And those kind of goal scorers are not readily available. They just aren't, because the teams who have them want to keep them."

Pub Date: 3/18/96

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