First-period failures perplex Capitals
Posted: Sunday June 14, 1998 05:00 PM
Brian Bellows and the Capitals find themselves one loss away from the losing end of the NHL finals' fourth straight sweep (AP)|
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Washington Capitals don't
think they can win the Stanley Cup unless they can win the first period
against the Detroit Red
Those were the sentiments of coach Ron Wilson and his players Sunday as
the Capitals hoped to battle back from a 3-0 deficit in the best-of-seven
"They've outplayed us in the first period," Wilson said. "We have to come
out stronger [for Game 4 Tuesday night]."
The Capitals have been outscored 4-0 in the first period of the first
three games, and have outscored the Red Wings 6-5 in the remaining periods,
which include one overtime. Saturday night's 2-1 loss was the third
one-goal defeat for the Capitals in the series.
"We're so close -- yet so far away," Wilson said. "Three one-goal losses.
It's basically been the first period [that has been the Capitals'
downfall]. Except for the first period, we would have won two games and
sent the other into overtime."
Wilson was puzzled about the Capitals' poor first periods. They had
flourished by getting off to good starts in earlier playoff games, but were
outshot 37-15 collectively in the first periods of the first three Stanley
Cup final games, including a shocking 13-1 Saturday night.
"Our biggest strength has been our biggest weakness," Wilson said. "I'm
not saying that we have to lead first. But we can't come out [of the first
period] down one or two goals."
The players couldn't come up with any answers about their first-period
failures, either, particularly Saturday night when they played at home for
the first time in the finals. Some of the Capitals said they were pumped up
by the fan support at the MCI Center, but it didn't translate into their
"We were ready to play, we couldn't be more ready," defenseman Mark Tinordi said.
"We could've gotten off to a better start."
Detroit defenseman Tomas Holmstrom
quickly deflated the Capitals, scoring 35 seconds into the game. Although
the Capitals eventually tied the score in the third period, they allowed a
tie-breaking goal by Sergei Fedorov in
the final five minutes.
"We have to work very hard to get our goals [against Detroit]," Capitals
forward Joe Juneau
said. "It's not like we're being outplayed. We've been in every game. But
it's tough to start down 1-0."
Juneau suggested that some of his teammates weren't playing their best.
He wouldn't name names.
"Some guys are not bringing their best to the table," he said. "I don't
know whether it's the pressure of the finals or fatigue."
Still, the Capitals felt that they could take some positives out of their
"After the first period, we went into the locker room and I said, `Guys,
we couldn't have played worse and we're only down 1-0,' " Brian Bellows said.
"We need to forecheck more -- come out more as a unit."
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