LANDOVER -- A play that didn't appear to have any chance of success proved the difference last night as the Washington Capitals beat the New York Rangers, 3-2, at USAir Arena.
The Rangers were pressing, defensemen included, when Todd Krygier sneaked away up the middle of the ice as Joe Juneau was gaining control and flipping the puck ahead to him.
Krygier beat Rangers goalie Glenn Healy to the glove side with 58 seconds remaining with a shot that was nowhere near as tough as the ones Healy had been stopping all evening.
The Rangers tied it 2-2 at 11: 09 of the final period when Caps goalie Jim Carey decided to play a rolling puck instead of smothering it and forcing a faceoff as he had been doing all game.
Somehow, the puck popped in the air, veteran Patrick Flatley caught it, dropped it, turned and beat Carey high over the catching glove.
In effect, the Rangers are an all-star team. As a result, and due to their finely honed individual skills, they have a tendency to stray from the team work ethic that is so necessary to win. Still, when things are going right
It appeared things were indeed going New York's way when Calle Johansson flipped a perfect lead pass to Mark Messier, sending him in alone on Carey. Only trouble was Johansson and Carey were wearing the home white while Messier was dressed in visiting blue.
No matter. Carey stopped the future Hall of Famer and, a couple of minutes later, did the same thing to Wayne Gretzky. The Great One made a brilliant look-away pass and spin to free himself, then got a return pass alone 10 feet in front of Carey. Again, Carey was up to the task.
But the Caps courted disaster once too often late in the first period when, on their first power play, Luc Robitaille of the Rangers put a rebound past a sprawled Carey.
It was no easy feat, Robitaille having to dig the puck from $H beneath the goalie as he flashed by. Then, with one lightning move, he maneuvered the puck from his backhand to forehand and with about two inches of clearance sent it home.
The Caps, out-hustling the Rangers, tied the count at 1 six minutes into the second period when Phil Housley scored.
Many people were jumping, pushing, diving and otherwise expending energy in front of the Rangers goal when suddenly the puck was behind Healy. A couple of dozen replays and a phone call later, referee Mark Faucette gave it a thumbs up.
Two seconds past the mid-point of the middle session, Joe Juneau spotted Johansson sneaking in from his position at the left point. No sooner did the puck arrive on Johansson's stick when it was up and over Healy for the go-ahead goal.
NOTES: The Capitals obtained center Andrei Nikolishin from the Hartford Whalers for defenseman Curtis Leschyshyn. Nikolishin, 23, was selected in the 1992 entry draft by Hartford. He played 12 games with the Whalers this season, scoring two goals and five assists. The 5-foot-11, 204-pound Russian native was sixth in team scoring last year with 14 goals and 37 assists in 61 games. Leschyshyn was recently acquired from Colorado along with forward Chris Simon. The nine-year veteran has 141 points in 524 games. The Capitals and Rangers hadn't played since Oct. 23, but obviously something happened during that 3-2 Washington victory in Madison Square Garden. Two shifts into the game and Craig Berube and Eric Cairns were going at it. Cairns had the early edge, before Berube's overhand right decked the rookie.
N.Y. Rangers 1 0 1 -- 2
Washington ..0 2 1 -- 3
Pub Date: 11/13/96