Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The Washington Capitals finally stirred up the Capital Centre fans Friday night. Outshooting the Kings, 33-22, the Capitals enjoyed a 4-3 lead and a whiff of second place with 9 1/2 minutes left in their Norris Division battle against the Los Angeles Kings.
Few among the crowd of 8,303 were left at the finish, however, and many of those were booing as the Capitals' rollercoaster broke down and the Kings carted off a 6-4 decision.
The Capitals dropped to fourth and the only team below is Pittsburgh, which entertains Washington in a televised (WDCA-TV-20 at 8 p.m.) game tonight.
Guy Charron connected after a Steve Hensen giveaway with 9:31 left to break a 3-3 tie and touch off bench-clearing congratulations. The Capitals were patting themselves on the too soon, however.
Mike Murphy connected from the left-wing circle less than two minutes later to create a 4-4 deadlock. Then Jensen got his revenge, both for his earlier booboo and for a pasting he took in a fight with Washington's Rick Green.
Syl Apps broke down the right side and, pursued by three Capitals, threaded a pass to Jensen in the crease for a tip-in. It was Jensen's first goal since he was transferred from Minnesota in the compensation package for Gary Sargent.
"I saw Jenny on the left and I knew he has great speed," Apps said. "I might have been able to go to my right, but there isn't much to shoot at from there, so I slowed down at the blue line and gave him the puck and he beat his man and put it in the net. I was lucky to get it through."
With Green caught up ice, Butch Goring converted a setup from Glenn Goldup to wrap it up and send the fans pouring out to the parking lot.
Green, although a fistie winner, was on the ice for five Los Angeles goals and also suffered a bruised hip. His defense partner, Leif Svenson, was burned for four goals and was shifted to a wing during the second period. Coach Danny Belise was so disenchanted with the Swede's defensive work that he planned to take Pete Scamurra to Pittsburgh in his place.
However, Green's injury was serious enough to scratch him, instead, so Svensson, according to a club spokesman, received "a new Leif on life."
"We just got a little loose," Belisle said. "We were trying to gamble to get some goals and we got overanxious and gambled too much."
One Capital who could hold his head high was Robert Picard. The big defenseman enjoyed his first two-goal game in the NHL and was not responsible for a single Los Angeles score. Yet he wasn't very happy, either, and it wasn't just the bruised foot that bothered him in the final period.
"we work as a team and if we lose, everybody loses," Picard said. "I don't care if I score five goals and we lose, it's a loss. It may look nice to read 'Robert Picard scores five goals but Caps lose,' but what good is it? Anyway, the guys were trying hard. That's the main thing for us right now."
Picard's two goals and a third by Tom Rowe brought the Capitals from a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 edge, entering the final period. Then Bryan Watson went off for charging Apps, Svensson was trapped up ice while penalty killing and Marcel Dionne was able to even the score.
"The turning point was when Marcel got the goal," Jensen said. "That really got us going. We pulled together the last 10 minutes and the guys were encouraging each other."
Charron turned back the momentum briefly, but Belisle agreed that, "The penalty changed the whole tempo of the game. Then Svensson gambled and they got the three on one and it gave them a lot of life. They really started coming on."
The Capitals could have wrapped up the game in the first 40 minutes, with their 26-10 shooting edge and unsuccessful breakaways by Eddy Godin and Bob Sirois. But goalie Ron Grahame hung tough and the Kings were able to avenge that opening-night loss in Los Angeles - the Capitals' only victory.