Penguins trip beat-up Caps, 4-2 Lemieux's goal ends unbeaten streak at 7; 2 more players hurt


PITTSBURGH -- The battered and bruised Washington Capitals lost a game, an unbeaten streak and possibly two more players to injury last night.

Penguins superstar Mario Lemieux scored with 1: 55 to play to break a tie, leading Pittsburgh to a 4-2 victory before a sold-out Civic Arena crowd of 17,181.

The Caps played gamely but couldn't extend their longest unbeaten string of the season, which ended at seven games (4-0-3).

"It's disappointing," said Caps defenseman Mark Tinordi. "But we've been playing well for a long time and we played well tonight but didn't get the point. Now we've got to go win at Ottawa [tomorrow night]."

Washington is now tied with the Boston Bruins for sixth place in the NHL's Eastern Conference playoff race. Both teams have 37-30-11 records and 85 points.

The Caps, however, are in poor shape physically. Already beat up with six of their key players out with injury, they may have lost defensemen Joe Reekie and Calle Johansson.

Reekie left the ice in the middle of the third period and did not return, suffering from a left foot injury.

Johansson, who played nearly nonstop in the final period, fell with 3: 12 remaining and left the ice in pain, holding his right wrist.

Both will undergo X-ray today to determine the extent of the injuries.

Lemieux's winner was his second goal of the night and 66th of the season. Defenseman Corey Foster took a drop pass at the blue line and passed to Lemieux at the left doorstep for an easy tap-in past Jim Carey (14 saves).

Caps defenseman Sergei Gonchar took the blame.

"This is absolutely my fault," he said. "I thought the puck was clearing the zone and I moved away from him [Lemieux], then I turned my head to see what was going on over there -- and the puck went through my legs."

Said Caps coach Jim Schoenfeld: "We just missed the coverage and it was a pretty bad goal for us. But Sergei is a youngster who's made a lot of plays this year that have won us games."

Michal Pivonka and Johansson wrapped Caps goals around Lemieux's first score, in the second period. Peter Bondra assisted on both, stretching his point-scoring streak to eight games.

Foster had Pittsburgh's first goal, and Chris Tamer hit an empty hit in the final minute to cap the scoring.

NOTES: Caps C Pat Peake, who aggravated a knee bruise in Buffalo on Wednesday, will be out seven to 10 days. . . . The Penguins won the season series, 3-1. . . . The Caps held Jaromir Jagr without a point, just the second time this season he has been scoreless in consecutive games. . . . Lemieux has 560 goals, tied with Guy Lafleur for ninth on the NHL career list.

Pub Date: 4/05/96

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