Reprinted from Saturday's late editions
The Washington Capitals appeared to be skating in slush Wednesday night. Actually, they were. The Montreal Canadiens skated in the same slush with minimal difficulty, however, and breezed to a 6-0 victory before a disgruntled Capital Centre assemblage of 8,243.
It was the eighth shutout for Montreal goalie Ken Dryden over the Capitals, who in their four-plus unhappy seasons have managed to shut out only four opponents. Montreal has won 25 of 28 games in the rivalry, with one tied.
"We've had some pretty close games here before," Dryden said, "but tonight by the end of the first period and certainly by the early part of the second period, the game was essentially over."
It was over because Montreal grabbed a 2-0 lead during a first period in which it outshot Washington, 11-2, and the Capitals failed to convert two marvelous chances.
The game's first shot, after just 35 seconds, seemed certain to give the Capitals a fast getaway. Tom Rowe blocked a Serge Savard pass and made a superb feed to Bob Sirois in the area vacated by Savard.
Sirols cut across the crease from right to left and tried to lift a backhander over the prone Dryden's outstretched stick. It proved impossible, because the puck sank in the excess water.
"If score, it's a whole different game," Sirois said. "I tried to put the puck on my backhand, but it stuck in the water. The ice was horrible, but they had to play on it, too. So give them credit."
Yvon Lambert, anchored in the slot, converted Doug Risebrough's pass from behind the net for his fifth goal and a 1-0 Montreal lead.
It was not until the 13-minute mark that Sirois fired the Capitals' second shot on goal. Then came another fine chance, as Dennis Maruk and Bob Girard raced toward Dryden with only one defender back. Maruk shot for the right corner of the net and the puck went inches wide.
"That's the way it's been going," Maruk said. "It seems like when they start to go in, they go in in bunches. Right now, they're staying out."
With 56 seconds remaining in the period, Montreal defenseman Larry Robinson slipped into the slot, took Rejean Houle's setup from the left corner and whipped the puck into the net. It was a demoralizing goal for the Capitals.
"I took Robinson out in the corner and I thought he was out of the play," said defenseman Rick Green. "But he drifted into the slot, the puck came right on his stick and it came out so fast, (goalie) Jimmy (Bedard) and I couldn't react."
"It was a good gamble by Robinson , said Montreal Coach Scotty Bowman. "We were into the last minute and a goal at that time can hurt a club, which it did. The Caps played a tight game against us at home for two periods last week and they were playing something like that tonight until we got that second goal."
Bob Gainey, Risebrough and Guy Lapointe built the margin to 5-0 in the second period. Lapointe, skating down the middle, took Steve Shutt's setup and scored even though defenseman Bryan Watson knocked his stick out of his hands as he shot.
Guy Lafleur closed the scoring in the final period wih a 50-foot blast that shattered the blade of Bedard's stick.
"I had it and it came up like it hit twice," Bedard said. "It snapped my stick. It was brand new; I don't know whether it was faulty or the shot did it. That's the first time that ever happened to me."
Green's right hand was sore following a hard-hitting fight with Montreal's Rick Chartraw in the second period. Green landed a series of uppercuts on Chartraw's face after taking a couple of shots himself.
'He came over the blue line and I pushed him, I guess in the face,' Green said. "He pushed me back with his stick up and as we went down the ice I told him to keep his stick down. I guess he didn't like it, because he turned and started swinging, I hit him once on the helmet at the start, but the rest landed on his face somewhere."
Watson, who was on the ice for three Montreal goals, will be replaced by Gord Lane tonight as the Capitals visit Boston for a 7:30 p.m. contest (WDCA-TV 20) with another team they have never been able to beat.
Gerry Cheevers, returning from August knee surgery, will be in the nets for Boston, which has collected 16 victories and four ties in combat against the Capitals.