For the Capitals, with Game 2 on the line, it was the goal that wasn't scored that ruined their sleep last night. For the Red Wings, sweet dreams came true with a 5-4 victory on defenseman Kris Draper's goal, 15:24 into overtime.
"You can tell how excited I was. The smile is still on my face," said Draper, who beat Washington goalie Olie Kolzig on the 60th Detroit shot of the game. "This is it! This is your dream. You go to the net and put it in for your team."
It was the first time in 42 years that a team had come back from two goals down in the third period to win a game in the Stanley Cup Finals. The result gives the Red Wings a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series that moves to Washington for Game 3 tomorrow and Game 4 on Tuesday.
"It was our depth and the way we attacked with pace that took advantage of the fact that [Washington] was going primarily with four-D [defensemen] that made the difference," Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman said. "But it still took 60 shots to score a winner. Hard to believe."
For Washington, it was hard to take, particularly so given that the Capitals' Esa Tikkanen had missed an open net moments after Martin Lapointe had closed the Wings to 4-3. Had Tikkanen scored, the Caps would again have been up two goals with about 10 minutes remaining.
"We had a two-goal lead a couple of times and let things slip away by playing too soft," Capitals coach Ron Wilson said. "We made too many mistakes. We were stick checking instead of getting our bodies in front of them.
"But we'll bounce back. We've played two games and been beaten by one goal in each. Tonight, we had the win right on Esa Tikkanen's stick for [gosh] sakes. We've got a lot of positives to build on. We have to win one game in this building and we've got two more tries to do it."
Said Kolzig: "This might be our toughest loss. We have a lot of veterans in this dressing room, and time and time again we've bounced back. We'll see how we do [tomorrow]."
Capitals general manager George McPhee had acquired Tikkanen, who is 5-for-5 in Stanley Cup Finals, in part to give his team a goal-producing player in crunch time in the playoffs. Last night, Tikkanen had his best chance to deliver.
Lapointe had just closed the gap to 4-3, with 8: 08 gone, and the Caps had moved the puck back to the Red Wings' zone. Minutes earlier, Joe Juneau had scored a power- play goal 30 seconds after Steve Yzerman's short-handed goal to maintain the Caps' two-goal advantage. And now, it seemed Tikkanen would counter Lapointe.
He faked out Detroit goalie Chris Osgood, who made 29 saves, and faced an open net. All he had to do was gently tap it in behind the fallen goalie. Tikkanen's shot went wide of the far post.
"Yeah, I had open net like, three, four seconds and I just next time I have to make sure that it is in," he said.
"I don't think this is negative. This is just, you know, that is part of the game. Too bad it happened today. But hopefully I can bounce back in [tomorrow's] game and do better. Next time I have an open net, I put in that puck. I have to."
The Capitals, who had seemed to be sleepwalking through Game 1 and the first period last night, awoke from their fog in the second period, with Peter Bondra getting them started and Chris Simon and Adam Oates following his lead, to produce three goals in a little over nine minutes to forge a 3-1 lead going into the third period.
But in the third, Yzerman, who scored his second goal of the night -- this one short-handed -- Lapointe and Doug Brown would rally for the tie at 4.
"Washington played a great game tonight," Draper said. "But this shows how persistent we are. We said the hero was going to be in our dressing room, and I was the fortunate one."
Kolzig, who made save after save over the final four minutes of regulation to get the Caps into overtime, was the most unfortunate.
"It looked like our defense got tired," Wilson said. "We gave up the blue line. You couldn't fault Olie on any of the goals."
Washington 0 3 1 0 -- 4
Detroit .. 1 0 3 1 -- 5
First period--1, Detroit, Yzerman 5 (Holmstrom, Lidstrom), 7: 49. Penalties--Reekie, Was (holding), 13: 05; Bondra, Was (hooking), 22.
Second period--2, Washington, Bondra 7 (Nikolishin, J. Brown), 1: 51. 3, Washington, Simon 1 (J. Brown), 6: 11. 4, Washington, Oates 6 (Juneau, Johansson), 11: 03. Penalties--Maltby, Det (high sticking), 3: 09; Zednik, Was (hooking), 7: 12; Simon, Was (roughing), 14: 11; Osgood, Det, served by Kocur (unsportsmanlike conduct), 14: 11; Maltby (slashing), 16: 20.
Third period--5, Detroit, Yzerman 6 (Fetisov, McCarty), 6: 37 (sh). 6, Washington, Juneau 7 (Gonchar, Bellows), 7: 05 (pp). 7, Detroit, Lapointe 8 (Larionov, Fetisov), 8: 08. 8, Detroit, D. Brown 2, 15: 46. Penalties--Lidstrom, Det (interference), 6: 23; Zednik, Was (cross checking), 10: 18; Lapointe, Det (interference), 11: 40.
Overtime--9, Detroit, Draper 1 (Lapointe, Shanahan), 15: 24. Penalties--Tikkanen, Was (roughing), 5: 24; Kocur, Det (roughing), 5: 24.
Shots on goal--Washington 8-15-7-3--33. Detroit 14-14-20-12--60. Power-play opportunities--Washington 1 of 4; Detroit 0 of 4. Goalies--Washington, Kolzig 12-7 (60 shots-55 saves). Detroit, Osgood 14-6 (33-29).
A-- 19,983 (19,983). Referee-- Don Koharski. Linesmen-- Kevin Collins, Gord Broseker.
Stanley Cup Finals
Washington vs. Detroit
(Detroit leads 2-0)
Date Res./Site Time TV
Gm 1 Detroit, 2-1
Yest. Detroit, 5-4**
Tom. at Wash. 8 ESPN
Tue. at Wash. 8 ESPN
Thu. at Det. 8* Fox
6/20 at Wash. 8* ESPN
6/23 at Det. 8* Fox
* -- If necessary; ** -- overtime
Pub Date: 6/12/98