For now, anyway, the Washington Capitals appear to be revitalized under new Coach Jim Schoenfeld.
“It’s just incredible, the energy we’ve had these past two days,” Washington’s Alan May said after the Capitals ended Detroit’s nine-game road unbeaten streak with a 6-3 victory Sunday at Landover, Md.
Mike Ridley had a goal and two assists for Washington, 2-1 since Schoenfeld replaced the fired Terry Murray on Thursday. The Capitals, who beat Philadelphia on Saturday, have a two victories in a row for only the third time since Nov. 11.
“For us, it’s an excitement thing,” defenseman Sylvain Cote said. “Getting a new coach is like a writer getting a new pen--you can’t wait to use it.”
Of course, the thrill of a new pen--or coach--does eventually wear off.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but we’re headed in the right direction,” forward Kelly Miller said. “The last two games are an indication of how we can play. It’s just a matter of doing that on a consistent basis all year long.”
The Capitals pulled out of a 1-1 tie with three goals in the second period. After Detroit closed to 4-3, Ridley got the clincher, a power-play goal with 8:05 left.
“We worked real hard, and the work paid off,” Schoenfeld said. “All in all, the thing we’re looking for is commitment and effort. We got both barrels tonight.”
Ray Sheppard had two goals and an assist for the Red Wings. Sheppard has five goals in his last two games and his 35 goals are second in the NHL behind Toronto’s Dave Andreychuk, who has 40.
But Detroit, which also got a goal from Steve Yzerman, lost for only the fourth time in its last 23 games (16-4-3). The Red Wings were 8-0-1 on the road since losing at Montreal Dec. 18.
“It was more us than anything,” Sheppard said. “We just broke down. We made some mistakes that we’re not accustomed to making the last two months, and they capitalized on it.”
Montreal 5, Philadelphia 4--Patrick Roy’s career-long winless streak against the Flyers ended when Guy Carbonneau scored in overtime at Montreal.
Mike Keane passed the puck near the side of the net at 2:29 of the extra period, and Carbonneau beat Tommy Soderstrom.
Roy, a three-time Vezina Trophy winner, now has a 1-6-6 career record in the regular season against the Flyers.
Florida 3, Buffalo 2--Jesse Belanger scored two goals, including the game-winner, and John Vanbiesbrouck had 37 saves, leading the Panthers at Buffalo.
The victory increased the Panthers’ unbeaten streak to nine (5-0-4), extending its NHL record for a first-year team.
The victory, combined with Philadelphia’s loss, moved the Panthers into third place in the Atlantic Division and sixth place in the Eastern Conference. That would be good for a playoff spot, an unlikely place for a first-year expansion team so late in the season.
“We’re not thinking about that at all,” Florida Coach Roger Neilson said. “There’s a long way to go in this season.”