ALBANY, N.Y. -- The Baltimore Bandits got the tough part of a difficult three-game weekend out of the way last night with a 3-2 win over the Albany River Rats before 7,554 at Knickerbocker Arena.
Goalie Mike O'Neill stopped 42 of 44 shots to give Baltimore its second win over a division leader in as many nights.
"It shows that they are capable of winning against the better teams," said Bandits coach Walt Kyle. "It doesn't mean that we're better than they are, but if we do the things we can do, on special teams and with goaltending, we can win against them."
After their 10-goal glut Friday against Binghamton, leaders of the Western Conference's Southern Division, the Bandits began as though they were out of offense.
They managed just seven shots in the first period -- to Albany's 12 -- yet came away with a 2-0 lead.
Sean Pronger scored first, at 7: 24, after he took Pavel Trnka's feed from the corner. Pronger, standing just inside the right circle, then ripped a shot over the right shoulder of River Rats goalie Peter Sidorkiewicz.
Baltimore was on the power play when a fight broke out involving the Bandits' Viacheslav Butsayev and Albany's Geodie Kinnear. Baltimore wound up skating five-on-three and used it well, as Steven King scored his 36th goal at 11: 39 the hard way. As King battled for position in front of Sidorkiewicz, Bobby Marshall wound up from the blue line, his blast hitting off King and into the net.
Albany nearly got that one back with five seconds left in the period, as Ricard Persson's drive from the left point squirted through O'Neill's pads.
But O'Neill slowed the shot enough that it kissed lazily off the left post and slid across the crease, where it was cleared.
Scott Pellerin scored at 3: 29 of the second on the power play for Albany, a 40-foot slap shot that O'Neill got a piece of, cutting Baltimore's lead to 2-1.
Two minutes later, with Marshall off for holding, the Rats were primed to draw even. They almost did when Bryan Helmer had a clear shot from 15 feet, but he hit the left post.
Jim Campbell restored the Bandits' two-goal lead at 14: 48, when he tapped a loose puck past Sidorkiewicz from just off the net. Sidorkiewicz had lost his stick on the play and couldn't kick ++ the puck away from Campbell.
O'Neill preserved the win midway through the period when he made sharp saves on Pellerin and Patrik Elias.
With 1: 45 left, Helmer brought Albany back to within a goal. Albany pulled Sidorkiewicz for an extra attacker in the final minute, but the Bandits held on.
Opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning
Site: USAir Arena, Landover
Radio: WWLG (1360 AM), WTEM (570 AM)
Outlook: The Capitals (36-29-10) are seven games over .500 for the first time since 1992-93 in their drive for the playoffs. The Lightning is trying to bump its way into the playoff picture. Washington is 7-3-2 this month and 3-0-2 in its past five. With seven games left, Caps G Jim Carey needs one shutout to become the first NHL goalie since Ken Dryden in 1976-77 to record 10 in a season.
-! Opponent: Rochester Americans
Site: War Memorial Auditorium, Rochester, N.Y.
Time: 6: 05
Radio: WITH (1230 AM), WAMD (970 AM)
Outlook: The Bandits have lost their first four games against the Americans, none by fewer than two goals. Rochester has tumbled from second to fourth in the Central Division during March but is just about assured a playoff spot. Rochester, too, will be finishing a three-game weekend. Rochester has the AHL leader in game-winning goals, Craig Charron (8), and he and Dixon Ward are among the league scoring leaders with 82 and 80 points, respectively.
Pub Date: 3/31/96