The Washington Captials suffered their worst humiliation of the season tonight when they were routed, 10-2, by the Los Angeles Kings at the Forum. It was their fifth straight defeat.
Fifteen of the Kings' 17 skaters accumulated points as they turned Caps' goaltender Rollie Boutin's first National Hockey League start into a nightmare with only the second double-figure night their history.
The Kings outshot the Caps, 38-23, including 18-5 in a farcical third period marred by fights and a five-goal binge against the hapless Caps.
After the debacle, the Caps, 0-6-1 in the last two weeks, made a late-night getaway to Denver, where they will try to regroup from disgrace in a game against the lowly Colorado Rockies (4-17-5) Tuesday night at 9:35 p.m. EST. (WTOP-1500 will join the game in progress after its broadcast of the Bullets-Cleveland basketball game).
Cap Coacn Danny Belisle continued the line juggling he started Saturday night in St. Louis in an attempt to jar his team out of its losing streak, which has been more the result of a breakdown in defense than any offensive deficiency.
He started Ryan Walter, centering for Paul Mulvey on left wing and Bob Sirois on the right, and used three other lines: Rolf Edberg-Guy Charron-Tom Rowe, Bob Girard-Dennis Maruk-Bill Riley and Bryan Watson-Maruk-Mark Lofthouse.
Girard was playing left wing on Maruk's primary line in place of Greg Carroll, who was out with a pulled back muscle. Charron, a natural center who played mostly left wing Saturday on a line centered by Edberg, was back in the middle because Edberg had a bruised left hip.
Boutin made his National Hockey League debut in 30 scoreless minutes at St. Louis after being called up from the Hershey (Pa.) Bears of the American Hockey League just that morning to replace the demoted Jim Bedard.
His first start was not pleasant as the Kings got four first-period goals after Bill Riley had put the Caps ahead, 1-0. Boutin had little chance on any of them.
Riley netted his first goal of the season at 6:29; a backhander on a rebound after defenseman Robert Picard's slap shot from the left point caromed off L.A. goaltender Ron Grahame's pads.
The Caps' celebration was short lived, however. After that, the deluge.
The Kings' first goal was a pure "giveaway," an early expression of the Christmas spirit. Watson made a bad pass, diagonally from the corner to Boutin's right, which L.A. center Butch Goring intercepted in the slot.
Watson somehow didn't see him, and Goring got the puck right on his stick -- surprised and delighted as a kid who finds a present he didn't expect under his Yule tree. He drilled a 20-footer past Boutin, unassisted, marking the third straight game in which he has scored.
Just 42 seconds later, the Caps were woefully slow getting back on defense. Picard was out of position, leaving only Gord Smith to try to frustrate a two-on-one break on Boutin.
Murray Wilson dropped back a nice little backhanded pass, just beyond Smith's desperate lunge, to Glenn Goldup, who scored from the slot to make it 2-1.
Gord Lane was penalized two minutes for holding at 12:25, but the Caps killed the penalty successfully.
At 18:21, right wing Mark Heaslip increased the Kings' lead to 3-1 with a back-door goal, deflected past Boutin in heavy traffic to his left.Assists went to Rick Hampton and Bert Wilson.
With only a few seconds left in the disastrous period, defenseman Rob Palmer started another two-on-one break for the Kings, and center Marcel Dionne took a nifty backhand pass from right wing Dave Taylor and beat the beleaguered Boutin cleanly.
And so, although they were only outshot by 12-11 in the period, the Caps were well on their way out of the contest after 20 minutes.
The Caps got their first power play opportunity when Bert Wilson was sent off for holding at 8:19 of the second period, but couldn't score, even though they were crowding Graham in his crease. He complained bitterly about this and shook his stick menacingly at Walter.
The only score of the period came at 12:58 when center Syl Apps put a rebound of a Bob Murdoch shot past Boutin from a milling group to the goalie's right. After two period, the Kings had out-shot the Caps only 20-18, but led 5-1.
Frustrated, the Caps took to provoking the Kings, who would rather finesse than fight, in a penalty-filled third period.
Mulvey, who had been sent off for roughing at 16:23 of the second, was the chief provocateur until banished 2:03 into the third with a two-minute penalty for roughing, five for fighting and a game misconduct. He took Dionne with him -- out on a game misconduct -- and Taylor got five minutes for fighting.
The penalties, Kings' lead, and fighting borne of the Caps' exaperation all mounted in the ugly third period.
At 5:04, defenseman Randy Mannery made it 6-1. At 11:12, Bert Wilson upped the score to 7-1, and in the aftermath the Caps' usually placid Rowe precipitated a fight with Edestrand and was assessed two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, five minutes for fighting and ejected with game and gross misconducts Edestrand got five minutes for fighting.
At 11:48, Danny Grant scored on a power play and 10 seconds later Vic Venasky scored to increase the Caps' humiliation to 9-1.
Lofthouse salvaged a hollow goal for the Caps at 16:34, but Venasky made the score final 10-2 at 18:12.