Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Nothing has been going right for the Washington Capitals all seasons, so it was hardly a surprise that nothing went right Sunday night. It was certainly no surprise that the Capitals lost to the Buffalo Sabres, 4-1.
For a starter, the Capitals outshot the potent Sabres, 17-6, in the first period. The score: Buffalo 2, Washington 0. Sabre goalie Don Edwards sheathed everything that came in his direction until the final period, when Guy Charron for the second straight mnight managed a shutout snapping consolation goal.
Washington was forced to play without defenseman Bryan Watson, who suffered a bruised tailbone when he was dumped by the New York Islanders' Jude Drouin during Saturday's 6-1 loss. To add to the pressure on the Capitals' defense, Gord Smith was struck in the mouth by a stick in the first period, loosening several teeth and requiring stitches. Rick Green departed for a long stretch in the second period to have a bent skate blade repaired.
Goalie Jim Bedard had his problems for two periods, in his first appearance in Buffalo, a few miles from his home in nearby Nigara Falls, Ontario.
"I was really nervous," Bedard said. "This was my first time here and a lot of my friends were here. I wasn't challenging the shooters until the third period, and when you play conservative they get goals on you."
Gil Perreault got one at 9:55, his 35th of the season. Jim Lorentz, from the side boards, fed Rene Robert in the left-wing circle and his pass left Perreault free in front. An adept deke and Perreault was sliding the puck behind Bedard.
With Washington's Mike Marson off for hooking late in the period, Danny Gare slipped behind Capital defenseman Robert Picard, took Jos Guevremont's carom pass off the boads and beat Bedard with his 26th goal, a sharply angled shot from the right wing circle.
In between these lamplighters, the Capitals buzzed around Edwards almost at will. In addition to the 17 shots, Bob Sirola fed Picard sailing in unchallenged on the left wing. Picard stumbled and lost control of the puck.
"Buffalo wasn't ready for us," said Washington Coach tom McVie. "Don Edwards did the job until they decided they were."
The Sabers were ready when opportunity knocked early in the second period. Don Luce and Gare jarred the puck loose from Green in the corner at Bedard's left. It hit the stock of the Capitals' Gerry Meehan and caromed into the slot, where Buffalo's Craig Ramsay drilled it past Bedard.
"I wasn't trying to do anything, except help out Greenie," Meehan said. "My stick was on the ice, the puck hit it and went right across the ice."
Jerry Korab completed the Sabres' scoring with five seconds left in the second period, firing a 45-foot slap shot past the screened Bedard. The goal came one second after Washington's Dave Forbes stepped on the ice at the end of his second major penalty of the game.
Forbes, 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, tood a pounding in a fight with Buffalo rookie Joe Kowal, 6-5 and 215. After they had served majors, Forbes took a run at Kowal, aiming an elbow at Kowal's head. Forbes received another major for the misdeed, foreing the Capitals to kill a two-man shortage for 72 seconds and a one-man deficiency for 3:48 more. They succeeded, technically at least, but the effort obviously left them weary.
Blair Stewart's first point of the season was richly deserved, as he faked Korab out of position and sent a perfect pass to the unguarded Charron, who ended Edwards' shutout bid with his 22nd goal.
Nevertheless, Edwards recorded his 27th victory, high in the NHL, and the Sabres, even without another tailbone victim, Richard Martin, extended their unbeaten streak to six games. Washingtonis winless in its last eight.
"Our hockey club is like Christmas morning," McVie said. "You don't know what you'll get until you open the package. We're inconsistent. Sometimes there is a good first period, sometimes a good second period, sometimes a good third period. We never seem to get a good 60 minutes."