Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
For the first time in the history of the franchise, the Washington Capitals have won two straight games on the road. Lucky-charm owner Abe Pollin merrily pounded his press-box desk and club director Albert Cohen's back last night as the Capitals whipped the St. Louis Blues, 4-3.
Washington, which caught Pittsburgh for a share of fourth place in the Norris Division, can produce more Capital gains tonight. The same teams meet at Capital Centre at 7:30 and the Blues, who disappointed a Checkerdome crowd of 8,971 with a lack of checking last night, figure to be even less aggressive on the road.
Washington scored four times in the second period for a 4-2 lead, then permitted the Blues to close the gap with 62 seconds left in the game. St. Louis lifted goalie Phil Myre for a sixth skater, but did not mount a serious threat.
"We kept them off balance most of the third period and they couldn't get anything going," said Washington Coach Danny Belisle. "Then in the last minute we decided to mess around and give them one, to let the fans have their money's worth.
"Still, we played with most maturity and handled the lead a little better. We've had a tendency not to know how to handle a lead."
In road games, the Capitals rarely have enjoyed one. But this success followed a 3-2 victory at Minnesota and led owner Pollin, who had never seen the Capitals on the road before watching that one Wednesday, to say, "I've got to go to all the road games now."
He can't attend the next away game, Sunday against the New York Rangers, however, because he is being honored by the B'nai B'rith at a dinner in Washington.
Another good-luck charm last night was right wing Michel Bergeron, whose rebound of a Rolf Edberg shot produced the game-winning goal. Bill Riley suffered a bruised hip in a morning workout yesterday and an emergency call went out to Bergeron in Washington. He arrived in time for the last three minutes of the warmup.
"They called me at 1 o'clock and I had a 4 o'clock flight, but it was delayed," Bergeron said. Then when we got to St. Louis I didn't even know the name of the place here. I had to ask somebody.
"Maybe this will help me, give me more of a chance to play. I don't want to sit in the press box. I did that for a year. There was pressure on me when I came to Washington. They asked me to put the puck in the net, but it's hard when the team isn't winning. You can't just get a line right away and fit in."
Another who helped his chances for steady employment was Gerry Meehan, playing left wing on a line with Greg Carroll and Bob Girard. That trio did an excellent job of checking the Blues' only solid line - Wayne Babych, Bernie Federko and Brian Sutter.
Babyck sent St. Louis in front with his 10th goal after 26 seconds of the second period, as Belisle this one time had different line on the ice. But Dennis Maruk pulled Washington even with a midair rebound of a Gord Lane shot.
"As the puck hit the goalie, it went up that high," said Maruk, hand at his waist, "and I just whacked at it."
Guy Charron, foiled on a breakaway, fed Tom Rowe for a 2-1 Washington lead, Rowe netting No. 10 with a blast from the right-wing circle. He tied a club record by scoring a goal in his fourth straight game.