The Washington Capitals hope to salvage a measure of satisfaction and another point or two in the final game of what has been a dismal trip Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Capitals have been away from home for two weeks with three losses and two ties to show for it.
They came to Canada today smarting from a devastating 9-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday night. The game served as another reminder that the Capitals have a long way to go to gain parity with the NHL's top teams, at least on the road.
In their last two games the defenses have been poor. They yielded 45 shots to Chicago in a disappointing 44 tie Wednesday and gave up 46 to the Flyers, a season high.
Goalie Ron Low was the primary victim in Philadelphia, and all indications point to him giving way to Bernie Wolfe as the starter against the Leafs Saturday night.
Low, once a Leaf reserve, usually opens in goal against his old team. But coach Tommy McVie most likely will go with Wolfe and allow Low to collect his thoughts.
McVie wanted to start Wolfe against the Flyers to save Low for Toronto, but Wolfe was tired from his effort in the Chicago tie and had little sleep the night after that game. So Low opened against Philadelphia.
He also was clobbered, yielding eight goals and facing 37 shots in 48 minutes before McVie yanked him. In his last three starts, Low has given up 20 goals in 6 1/2 periods.
The Capitals and Leafs have split two meetings this year. Washington posted a 3-2 victory with 43 shots on Dec. 17 at Capital Center and the Leafs took a 3-1 decision in Toronto on Jan. 1.
Toronto will start brash rookie goalie Mike Palmateer. When he came up earlier this year he told Leafs' general manager Jim Gregory "Mr. Gregory, your goaltending problems are over."
Palmateer has backed up the big talk with an impressive three-goal-per game average and is also the only goalie in the league to shut out the powerful Montreal Canadians.
Palmateer has help. Many NHL followers believe Borje Salming is the best defenseman in the league, He has 50 assists and nine goals.
Toronto also features rugged Tiger Williams, who will likely lead the NHL in penalty minutes and is also on his way to a 25-goal season. Lanny McDonald leads the Leafs with 33 goals.