On their sixth visit to Nassau Coliscum, the Washington Capitals finally got the point. Guy Charron's second goal of tonight's game, with 8.41 remaining and 38 saves by goalie Bernie Wolfe lifted the Capitals into a 3.3 tie with the powerful New York Isanders.
It was the Capital's second straight though their first point here, and it sent the Washington club off to Boston on a high note for Sunday night's continuation of this longest road trip of the season.
There was a low not, however. Left wing Bob Sirois, slammed hard into the boards in the third period, went off for x-rays and it was feared he had a fractured collarbone.
"I can't say anything about it, but it hurts, said Sirois as he struggled to shed his uniform.
Otherwise, it was a night for celebration for the Capitals and 50 loyal members of their fan club, who braved a snowstorm to form a pocket of encouragement among a sellout crowd of disgrunted New Yorkers.
The Capitals were outplayed and they never led, but each time the Islanders moved in front. Washington tugged and clawed its way back to even.
On the third occasion, it was Ace Bailey who supplied the key, checking New York defenseman Dave Lewis off the puck in the Islanders' end. Charron grabbed it and the right-wing circle. It was his 28th goal, a club record.
"We were checking Pretty good all night," Bailey said, "and it paid off.
The tying goal came 1 1/2 minutes after a drive by Gerry Meehan had deflected off the crossbar behind Islander goalie Billy Smith.
There was a moment to worry about with five minutes left, as a long New York shot struck a loose board and caromed into the crease vacated by Wolfe, who had come behind the net to play the puck.
"We didn't get burned on it," Wolfe said, "and I'm glad of that, but those things will happen once in a while. They want me to be more mobile and help the defensemen, and the only way is to keep it up. The defense played very well tonight. I can't do it by myself and when I can help them I want to."
The Islanders had a 30-12 edge in shots for the first two periods but wolfe kept the Capitals a goal back and gave Charron the opportunity to become the game's star.
J. P. Parise sent the Islanders in front at 2:11 of the first period, on a setup by Jude Drouin.
Charron tied it, with some help from Islander goalie Billy Smith, at 5:48. His 27th goal tied the team mark set last year by Nelson Pyatt, the man for whom Charron was exchanged.
Billy Harris was called for tripping Washingtonian defenseman Jean Lemieux and, during the delay before the referee Gregg Madill blew his whistle, the Capitals inadvertently iced the puck. However, Smith touched it, creating a faceoff in his end.
Mechan won the draw and fed Charron, whose drive from the left point struck the blocker protecting Smith's stick hand, rolled up his arm and went into the net.
Denis Potvin's 16th goal regained the lead for New York with a minute remaining in the first period, but Blair Stewart got it back 19 seconds after intermission, collecting an errant Bryan Trottier pass and then caroming a backhander off Trottier's skate into the net.
"I sure didn't expect goal," said Stewart, who clearly shrugged his shoulders as the light went on.
Just 35 seconds later, Washington defenseman Yvon Labre was shrugging his shouders. Trottier centered the puck from the corner and it struck the sate of Labre, who had tied up the Islanders' Billy Harris in the slot.
"I didn't expect the pass," Labre said. "I was turning to go after him (Trottier) and just as I turned, the puck hit may blade and went in."
It would be more than 30 minutes before the next goal, but for the Capitals the wait was more than worth it.