Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
The Washington Capitals, who hadn't scored more than two goals in a game since Oct. 29, collected six last night. Nevertheless, the Capitals' winless streak reached 12 games, because the Buffalo Sabres scored seven.
It was the first time in the Capitals' four-year history that they scored six goals and lost, which is also a commentary on how this awful 2-12-3 season has been going.
The Washington club saw enough of Buffalo center Gil Perreault, who totaled three goals and two assists, to last a lifetime. But they'll have to watch him again tonight, since the teams resume their shoting war at 7 p.m. in Buffalo.
An added depressant for the Capitals was the loss of center Guy Charron late in the game. Charron, struck in the face by a puck that had just left Jerry Korab's skate, was stitched up and taken to Prince George's County Hospital for X-rays to determine whether his nose had been broken.
Perreault's activity was enough of a slap in the face. Twice he breezed in to dehe goalie Bernie Wolfe on breakaways, leaving bewildered Washington defensemen shaking heads behind him.
Nevertheless, Washington was able to grab a 6-5 lead on third-period goals by Gord Lane and Tom Rowe. So Perreault came back for a curtain call.
Less than two minutes after Rowe had brought joy to the majority of the 13,147 Capital Centre fans. Perreault skated in from the corner and whipped a tying backhander past Wolfe.
No content with a hat trick, Perreault sailed down the ice, cut behind the Washington net and escaped Gord Lane's close guarding to feed the puck to Rene Robert in the slot. Robert drilling it past Wolfe with only 2:45 to play for the winner, his second goal of the night.
Center Ron Lalonde, Washington's best defensive player, drew the unenviable task of guarding Perreault, Lalonde sat at his locker, head down, for quite a while, thinking back and thinking ahead.
"Tonight he played a lot different," said Lalonde, who has studied his adversary's moves. "Before he used to start in behind his own net. Now he's taking advantage of that new rule, picking up forward passes at full speed across the center line.
"He had me psyched out on that last goal. I was matching him even though Gordie had him covered and I let Robert sit there alone. I took the wrong man.
"I'm going to try something different tomorrow. "I'm going to bog him and try to make him mad and see if I can take him into the penalty box."
About the only other possibility is using a gun. Asked if there was anything else Perreault could possibly do, Washington coach Tom McVie said, "Well, he could park the cars before the game starts."
McVie wasn't happy about the up-and-down style that gave Buffalo so many breakaway opportunities.
"You don't get into a [WORD ILLEGIBLE] with a club like that and expect to get anything," McVie said. "Buffalo wants you to play the wide-open game, and they've got too much ammunition for any club."
Both Sirois and Bryan Watson shut the Capitals into a 2-0 lead and Charron and Dave Forbes created ties at 3-3 and 4-4. Gerry Desjardins, making only his second start of the season after suffering an eye injury in February, yielded the first three scores, then was replaced by Don Edwards.
The Capitals put on a tremendous surge early in the third period, out-shooting the Sabres 7-0 in the first five minutes while scoring twice. The remarkable thing was that the two goals closely followed a scoreless five-minute session while Buffalo's Jim Schoenfield served a major penalty for high-sticking Sirois. During the first 42 seconds of that sentence, the Capitals managed no shots with a two-man advantage.
Perreault, who has two hat tricks this year after going without all last season, said, "I was skating good and skating is a big part of the game. When you skate good, you feel good. And when you get five points, you feel great."
"That's Gil Perreault," said coach Marcel [WORD ILLEGIBLE], who has urged Perreault to take advantage of the new rule on two-line passes. "He just grabs the hit in his teeth and makes things happen."