Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
It wasn't much of a birthday party forapital Centre. The New York Islanders applied persistent pressure to the Washington goalie, broke through four times and posted a 4-0 decision to give their netminder, Chico Resch, his second shutout here this season.
A large fan club sign read, "Happy Birthday Jim," locker room visitors offered congratulations and Bedard just shook his head. It wasn't because he was dissatisfied with his play, since he had little chance to thwart the opposing scorers. It's just that the Capital's press guide lists Bedard's birth date as Jan. 14, 1956, when he was born Nov. 14, 1956.
That was only a small part of the things that went wrong for the Capitals and their fans last night. Except for five shots on a third-period power play. Resch was hardly tested in blocking 19 fairly routine attempts. Meanwhile, the Islanders drilled 28 good ones at Bedard.
"They made their shots count," Bedard said. "They work the puck around in front of our net. They don't shoot from beyond the blue line. I've faced 38 to 45 shots from other teams and not felt this tired. I never played against th Islanders before. They're good."
Coach Tom McVie said much the same thing of the overpowering visitors.
"We were playing against a finetuned machine," McVie said. "Every one of our players put out to capacity. But the Islanders did the same thing. They're a tough outfit to try to get anything done against."
The Capitals certainly didn't accomplish much. They looked tired although, to get maximum rest, they had taken a charter flight back from Minnesota following Friday's 2-2 tie.
The Islanders forced the play from the start and produced the only score they needed when Bob Nystrom took Bert Marshall's headman pass and beat Bedard with a hard, close-in drive on a breakaway at 11.56 of the first period.
Bryan Trottier stole the puck from defenseman Jean Lemieux and skated in unopposed from the side boards to make it 2-0. Then Trottier dropped a pass to Clark Gillies, who used Capital defenseman Gord Lane as a screen for his drive from the rightwing circle. The combination gave Trottier, the NHL's leading scorer, 30 goals and 70 points.
Denis Potvin wrapped up the scoring on a 40-foot shot in the final period, Nystrom screening Bedard from the slot.
On their previous visit, the Islanders had romped to a 6-0 decision. This marked the second time they had swept the season series in Capital Centre by shotout scores. In the Capitals' first NHL season, they were blown out at home by the Islanders, 7-0 and 5-0.
About the only persons among the 11,075 fans who appreciated what they saw were the members of the New York Islanders Fan Club. Deprived of much chance to chant "Chi-co" because Resch had so little to do, they instead chanted "Ber-nic" in recognition of Washington's backup goalie. Bernie Wolfe, when Nystrom scored on Bedard.
Wolfe was a key figure last year as the Capitals, who have never beaten the Islanders, held New York to three ties. Things are obviously different this season, and McVie tried to explain why.
"Every club in the league is taking the Caps more seriously," he said. "Every time we go on the road we see another team's scouts prescouting us.We surprised a lot of clubs last year. They didn't prepare for us before, but now they know they need the two points against us."
The game started a half-hour later than usual to permit the Centre to recover from an afternoon professional wrestling program. Then, to add to the seemingly interminable proceedings for Capitals fans, there were repeated delays for television commercials, even though the game was shown on a delayed basis at 10:30 p.m. in New York.
At least the Capitals didn't leave their fans spinning their wheels.A number of patrons, chosen by lot, were given free skateboards. Unfortunately, the wheels were not available.