The Detroit Red Wings, unbeaten on the road this season, visit Capital Centre tonight for a 7:30 contest with the Washington Capitals.
Entering last night's game at Pittsburgh, the Wings had two victories and a tie on foreign ice, while struggling below .500 at home.
The Capitals have been struggling below .500 everywhere and took a 2-6-2 record into last night's game on Long Island.
Detroit has been battling Montreal for first place despite the mediocer play of goalie Rogie Vachon, the free agent whose signing by the Wings has thrown the National Hockey League into long, costly litigation.
When Vachon was signed, Los Angeles was given center Dale Mc Court as compensation. McCourt as compensation. McCourt, the first pick in the 1977 amateur draft, went to court and won an injunction, so that both players are now with the Wings.
While McCourt has prospered, collecting five goals and seven assists, Vachon has stumbled. He was beaten by St.Louis, 5-4, in the Wings' home opener, stopping only nine of 14 shots, and carries a 3.43 goals-against average.
Jim Rutherford has posted a far more creditable 2.00 mark in his three starts. Ron Low, the former Capital, is presently toiling for the Wings' Kansas City farm club in the Central Hockey League.
A pleasant surprise for the Wings has been the play of Czech center Vaclac Nedomansky. Big Ned has recorded sex goals and six assists. Errol Thompson, the winger acquired from Toronto in the Dan Maloney deal, has matched McCourt's figures of five goals and seven assists, and leads the team with three game-winners.
This is a big week at Capital Centre for the Capitals. They entertain Montreal Wednesday and Buffalo Saturday, with a Thursday trip to Boston thrown in the middle.