Since neither the Washington Capitals nor the Cleveland Barons has won a game this month, tonight's 7:30 duel at Capital Centre should probably be billed as guaranteed-tie night.
Instead, it is family night, with all customers accompanying a full-price ticket buyer being admitted for half fare.Since tomorrow afternoon's game against St. Louis is T-shirt day and Wednesday's contest against chicago is a special discount night for previous mail-order ticket buyers, it is obvious the current 11,000-plus attendance is not the result of the home team's 12-43-12 record.
Washington is 7-19-5 on home ice, a nonperformance unrivaled by NHL compatriots, no matter how shabby. One of those 19 setbacks was a 3-2 loss to Cleveland on Dec. 2, but events since that time tend to raise hopes of a Capital conquest tonight.
Cleveland is winless in its last 10 games, a streak that includes such horrors as a 13-3 home-ice embarrassment by Buffalo and a 9-3 shellacking in Atlanta. The Barons' last victory came on Feb. 17 against Vancouver.
Washington, winless in four straight since a Feb. 28 verdict over Colorado, has beaten the Barons twice in Richfield since that Dec. 2 engagement here. On Dec. 7, Washington snapped a 20-game winless string with a 5-3 victory. On Feb. 10, the Capitals ended an eight-game stretch of winless hockey with a 4-1 triumph.
Tonight marks the first Capital Centre appearance of center Walt McKechnie since he was traded to the Barons Dec. 8 for Bob Girard and a No. 2 draft choice.
McKechnie has collected 11 goals and 14 assists for the Barons, a considerable improvement over his four-goal, one-assist production with Washington.
Center Dennis Maruk leads the Barons' scorers with 29 goals and 55 points, figures comparable to Guy Charron's Capital-leading 25 goals and 51 points.
Neither is included among the NFL's top 40 scorers.