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June 12, 1998 - Draper's 'Biggest Goal' Lifts Wings
My Kris Draper Page

Draper's 'Biggest Goal' Lifts Wings
By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 12, 1998
; Page D13

 

DETROIT, June 11 Kris Draper got off the bench, hopped over the boards, skated 50 feet and scored the biggest goal of his career his first this postseason to give the Detroit Red Wings a 5-4 overtime victory in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals tonight at Joe Louis Arena.

The winning play started when Washington Capitals defenseman Sergei Gonchar attempted to clear the puck around the boards but the puck was slowed by Brendan Shanahan and controlled by Martin Lapointe along the right-side boards. Lapointe, who scored in the third period to help Detroit overcome a two-goal deficit, turned and centered the puck to Draper. Draper one-timed the pass past goalie Olaf Kolzig for the game-winner, 15 minutes 24 seconds into overtime.

Detroit became the first team since 1956 to overcome a two-goal deficit in the third period and win.

The series now moves to Washington for Game 3 on Saturday, with the Capitals facing a two-games-to-none deficit in the best-of-seven series. Even worse for the Capitals is the fact that since 1939, teams that have won the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals have gone on to win the championship 36 of 39 times.

"I came on on a line change," Draper said. "I don't think anyone from Washington saw me coming in the back door. Marty [Lapointe] got the puck and I came in with my stick on the ice and one-timed it."

Kolzig, forced to try to move all the way across the goal, had no chance to make a save.

"This is obviously the biggest goal of my career," Draper said. "This is what you dream as a little kid playing ball hockey, the clock counting down and putting the puck in the net."

The Red Wings dominated the third period and overtime, outshooting the Capitals by 32-10 and overcoming 3-1 and 4-2 deficits. Detroit had several good chances late in regulation and throughout overtime, but Kolzig was solid until Lapointe set up Draper.

Among the Red Wings' better chances prior to the winner, Draper had been stopped on a wrist shot from the right circle after he skated most of the ice untouched when Capitals defenseman Joe Reekie fell down while skating backward.

"Looking back, I should have kept going to the net," Draper said. "Scoring goals is all about confidence. When you go 14 games or whatever [actually 16] without a goal, you start doubting yourself."

Considering his lengthy scoreless streak, Draper said he didn't think he would be the one to end the game.

"If we threw our names in a hat, I don't think my name would have come out," Draper said. "But when you go into an overtime, all it takes is one shot to win the game. I was fortunate to be in the right spot to one-time it in."

Draper's goal capped a thrilling comeback made necessary because of a letdown by the Red Wings in the second period.

After carrying the play in the first period, Detroit was caught napping early in the second. Washington defenseman Jeff Brown cleared the puck the length of the ice, with one linesman signaling for icing (if Detroit touched the puck first) or a two-line pass (if Washington's Peter Bondra, in front of the pack, was the first to play the puck).

Detroit goalie Chris Osgood and defenseman Larry Murphy gave up on the play without realizing the other linesman saw that the Capitals' Andrei Nikolishin had touched the puck in the neutral zone, thereby eliminating icing or a two-line pass.

However, Bondra never let up, hustling into the Detroit zone and-playing the carom off the end boards-one-timing a slap shot from the bottom of the left circle through Osgood's pads. The crowd went silent while Osgood looked for the goal to be disallowed, to no avail.

That goal, at 1:51 of the second period, tied the score at 1 and gave Washington the momentum. Less than 10 minutes later, Detroit trailed 3-1 and Osgood was frustrated. On one occasion, he earned a two-minute penalty for tossing the puck at Washington's Craig Berube after a play had been blown dead.

"Certainly [the first goal] threw us off our game and they got the momentum," said Detroit right wing Doug Brown, who tied the score at 4 with 4:14 left in regulation with his second goal of the playoffs. "The good news is we had a lot of time left in the game and we were able to come back."