The Washington Capitals, badly beaten their last two games, try to regain respectability tonight in Minnesota, where history offers little in the way of encouragement.
In seven previous visits, the Capitals have six losses and one tie, have been outscored, 41-19, and have never yieled fewer than four goals.
Before the Capitals flew west yesterday, right wing Eddy Godin was returned to the Hershey farm club. Godin had been with the Capitals since Nov. 24, when he was recalled under emergency conditions. Injuries and illness had maintained the emergency ever since.
Godin, with three goals and three assists in 18 games, will be tried at center on this minor-league tour. General manager Max McNab sees future possibilities in a playmaking role for Godin, a 20-year-old junior sharpshooter who was drafted in the third round in June.
Left wing Mike Marson did not make the trip to Minnesota. Hit by flu, he was unable to dress Wednesday, when the Capitals were thrashed by Detroit, 6-3.
McNab stayed home, too, both to nurse a cold and to catch up on his work. There was speculation this included finalizing a trade with Detroit that would bring center Dennis Hextail to Washington and send right wing Billy Collins to the Red Wings.
The North Stars have been sentenced to two-a-day workouts, beginning Sunday, by coach Andre Beaulieu. The Minnesota team, with the NHL's worst record, was told Wednesday that unless it beat Toronto that night, Washington tonight and St. Louis Saturday, it would be subjected to double duty.
The North Stars jumped to a 3-0 lead against the Maple Leafs, but eventually collapsed and were beaten, 4-3. It was ther fifth straight defeat, four of them on home ice.
Despite the team's lowly status, average attendance has reached 9,027, up more than 800 a game over last season. On Saturday, in a 3-1 loss to arch-rival Boston, the North Stars were watched by 15,873, the largest home crowd since the Franchise was established in 1967.
Minnesota has yielded 170 goals, most in the NHL, but its defense figures to get a lift tonight from the return of team captain Nick Beverley. He has been out with a back injury since Dec. 6.
The North Stars boast one of the league's top young defensemen in rookie Brad Maxwell, who has 11 goals. Seven have come on power plays, the most for a defenseman in the NHL.
Harvey Bennett, the former Capital, has scored the North Stars' only goal in two of their last three games. Bennett has five goals and two assists since he was obtained from Philadelphia Oct. 28, just in time to be charged with a major penalty in the North Stars' 7-4 victory over Washington the next night.
Tonight's game will not be broadcast to Washington. A similar situation existed in the Capitals' last two road victories, at Cleveland and Los Angeles.