Goalie Jim Bedard made 39 saves, including a penalty shot, and was voted the game's No. 1 star. Robert Picard, a Montreal native, scored his first NHL goal in the Forum. Ryan Walter continued his point-in-every-game streak with a goal in his first Forum visit. Each player would have tossed it all in for a point in the standings.
As always, when the Washington Capitals visit the Forum, it was not to be. Trailing, 1-0, after 23 minutes, the Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens stormed back for a 4-2 victory last night, their 13th over the Capitals here.
Washington, winless in 25 meetings with the Canadiens, now has visited Canada 31 times without ever recording a victory.
"It was one of those games that could have been stolen," said Washington Coach Danny Belisle. "Bedard was hot and (Ken) Dryden was shaky, dropping the puck out of his glove. If we could have kept playing the way we did in the first period, we might have taken it. But started standing around, waiting for somebody to do things for us."
Instead, the Canadiens did things to the Capitals. They repeatedly beat Washington to the puck, fed it to the point and fired shots at Bedard while big forwards jammed the slot. In one stretch of the second period, Montreal fired 18 shots without Dryden being tested once at the other end.
Picard opened the scoring at 2:47 of the second period with a drive from the left point after Walter won a face-off from Doug Jarvis following a rare Montreal icing violation.
"The puck was bobbling and it made a bounce over Dryden's stick," Picard said. "That was my third goal against Canadiens, but my first here and breaking the ice here is something special. But I'd rather have a point in the standings."
Sixty-one seconds later, Picard was looking very foolish. Trying to carry the puck through three Canadiens in his own zone, he fell with some provocation and Pierre Larouche grabbed it, carried to the right-wing circle and drilled a shot off the far post into the net.
"I tried to deke (Guy) Lafleur and he put his stick between my legs and tripped me," Picard said. "I don't know why Lafleur got an assist. The puck slid off my stick to Larouche. I guess they gave him an assist for tripping me."
Bedard survived a constant battering for the next 10 minutes, until Pierre Mondou fired a 35-foot shot that struck Bedard in the left arm and caromed just under the crossbar.
"I didn't see it," Bedard said. "I was in a crouch, trying to look between our defenseman's legs, and then he moved and I stood up. I guess it hit my arm. I really don't know where it went."
There was still hope Washington might pull out a tie, but Doug Risebrough ended that with a tip-in goal at 8:30 of the final period. Washington defenseman Rick Green lost the puck to Mario Tremblay in Montreal ice, Tremblay skated down the right side and passed to Risebrough in front of the net.
Risebrough returned the favor to permit Tremblay to make it 4-1. Then Walter earned his third goal and sixth point in his four games by grabbing the puck off defenseman Brian Engblom's stick and flipping a backhander over Dryden's right shoulder.
Bedard stopped Jacques Lemaire on a penalty shot at 5:50 of the first period, suddenly darting out of the net to knock the puck off Lemaire's stick. It was the fourth time Bedard has faced a penalty shot as a pro, once at Hershey and three times with Washington, and he never has been beaten.
The play was set up when defenseman Yvon Labre fell on the puck in the crease, after making a save on Lemaire with Bedard far out of position.
"I saw him cut around the goaltender and I managed to get in there to block the shot," Labre said. "I tried to whack it away and then I fell. I didn't even know it was under me, but rules are rules."
"I've watched Lemaire on TV and I've played against him four times," Bedard said. "I figured for sure he'd shoot the puck (rather than deke). When he made a head fake and went left, I stuck the stick out. I knew he wouldn't be able to go high. He had a breakaway against me last year and did pretty well the same thing."