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Wednesday, May 17, 1995

Penguins awake rip Caps to force Game 7

Dmitri Kristich vs Ken Wregget

Associated Press / TED MATHIAS

Pittsburgh goalie Ken Wregget deflects a shot by Washington, as the Capitals' Dmitri Kristich hovers nearby, hoping for a rebound. Wregget held the Caps scoreless until 18:33 of the third period.

Facing elimination, Pittsburgh came out smoking, showing flashes of its old championship form.

By Tim Panaccio

     LANDOVER, Md. - With elimination from the playoffs the only alternative, the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team living off past accomplishments rather than present, awoke from their slumber last night in frightening fashion and thumped the Washington Capitals, 7-1, at USAir Arena.
     The Penguins' improbable victory sent this Eastern Conference quarterfinal back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 tomorrow night, tied at three games apiece.
     In 1992, the Penguins rallied from, a three-games-to-one deficit against Washington and went on to win their second Stanley Cup.
     Pittsburgh pumped four goals into the net in the first period, forced Washington to twice change goalies, and displayed the kind of offensive firepower that ranks them among the most feared teams in the league.
     Tight checking, superb play in the corners and solid defense in front of goalie Ken Wregget led to the victory.
     Still, the biggest difference was speed skating. Instead of the five or six minutes of thrilling end-to-end rushes that have come to characterize the Penguins, they forced Washington into a game-long skating match.
     Caps coach Jim Schoenfeld said after losing Game 5 that his club couldn't clinch this series trying to skate with Jaromir Jagr, Luc Robitaille and all those other millionaires in Penguins jerseys.
     He was right.
     Jagr and Robitaille accounted for all four Penguin goals in the first period, and veteran defenseman Larry Murphy picked up two assists Murphy has scored a point in eve: game in this series.
     Robitaille put the Pens on board just 42 seconds into the game when he tapped home Murphy's shot from the fight point. It was the first time Pittsburgh scored first since Game 2, which the Pens won by 1
     Jagr made it 2-0 at 3 minutes, seconds on another one of his famed shake-and-go moves. Norm Maciver broke the puck free at the Pens' blue line and Jagr stick handled his way right through defenseman Joe Rę Me to jam the puck past Caps goalie Jim Carey.
     Schoenfeld immediately pull Carey in favor of fellow rookie 01 Kolzig, who hadn't played since wining Game 1 by 5-4.
     Kolzig was forced to make a terrific stick save on Jagr almost immediately. Then the Caps buried them selves with back-to-back penalties giving the Pens a five-on-three advantage for 1:12.
     With 19 seconds left on the two| man advantage, Kolzig tore cartilage in his right knee after deflecting* Chris Joseph's shot in front and was forced to leave the game.
     Carey came off the bench amid a (thunderous ovation, but Jagr quickly quieted the crowd by tapping home f* backhanded, power-play goal Murphy's shot from the point $ make it 3-0 at 9:31.
     Less than three minutes later, Robitaille picked up his second goal Standing alone in the crease, he rifled a shot high into the net after Tomas Sandstrom had centered the puck from behind the net.
     Now it was 4-0, the crowd was booing fiercely, and the Penguins looked like the team that won two Stanley Cups.
     Defensively, Pittsburgh suffocated Washington, avoiding those two-on-one rushes that victimized the Pens in Games 3 and 4. Wregget had 18 saves in the first two periods, including a chest save on Sylvain Cote from the top of the slot and a pair of saves on Peter Bondra.
     The Pens piled it on in the second period when Troy Murray scored his first goal of the series at 15:27 and then Sandstrom made it 6-0 with a goal in the final minutes of the period that sent fans for the exits.
     Wregget, whose confidence level seemingly rose with every goal, stopped Rob Pearson and Steve Konowalchuk on breakaways earlier in the middle period.

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