Among other New Year's resolutions, the Washington Capitals vowed to avenge that 10-2 loss in Los Angeles Dec. 4. Last night, they gained revange sweeter by far than holiday champagne, sending the Kings packing by an 8-3 score.
Goalie Gary Inness stopped 40 shots, Robert Picard became the first Washington Defenseman to collect four points in a game, Tom Rowe stamped himself as a bona fide major leaguer and Peter Scamurra shut up a lot of loudmouthed fans.
Things went so well that one Lothario used TelScreen to propose to his girl friend -- and she accepted. The way the Capitals were crumbling a coupe of weeks ago, she probably would have been insulted.
The victory cigar Coach Danny Belisle received from owner Abe Pollin was not lighted without a bit of shakiness, however. After Rick Green, Picard and Guy Charron had powered Washington into a 3-0 lead, the Capitals encountered their usual front-running slump.
Scamurra lost the puck in front of his own goal and the Kings' Tommy Willians knocked it in. Then Marcel Dionne whipped a shot past Inness from the left-wing circle, it was 3-2 and the new year seemed to be producing an old script.
"It looked like the same old story," Belisle said. "We get a two- or three-goal lead, they get one back, then two back and we start to tighten up in front of the home crowd. Maybe it's an indication of maturity that this time we came back."
A portion of the crowd of 7,053 was giving Scamurra heat -- the only kind in the frigid building -- by chanting "Let's seat Pete" until Rowe brought them into a more positive frame of mind.
Grabbing the puck in the cornor to the left of Los Angeles goalie Mario Lessard, Rowe maintained control of the puck almost to the blue line, carried toward the middle, slipped between two Kings, sailed down the left wing and fired a backhander fron the left-wing circle.
Lessard made the save, but Rowe netted the rebound for his 15th goal and a 4-2 lead. It was deserving of an Oscar, as the best individual effort by a Capital this season.
Rowe gave full credit to linemate Bob Sirois.
"(General Manager) Max (McNab) pulled me into his office the other day and told me the difference between a minor leaguer and an NHLer was the way he controlled the puck along the boards," Rowe said. "He told me to watch Bobby, that he was the best on the team.
"I asked Bobby to help me and he showed me how to stay low, bounce off the boards, keep the puck and eventually get pushed into the play. I usually stand up and get knocked off the puck. Bobby said Gary Dornhoefer showed him how to stay low with the Flyers. It sure worked for me. I kept control just the was Bobby told me."
Then it was Scamurra's trun. He broke up a play at the Capital end, earning rare cheers from the crowd, and skated quickly up ice to fire a shot that was deflected to the rear boards. Scamurra hung in the slot, took a pass from rookie Gary Rissling and whipped the puck past Lessard for a 5-2 lead.
"After I gave them a goal, I really wanted to get one back," Scamurra said. "We were losing momentum and Tommy really helped us, then I got the chance to really squelch them. It was a big goal, for me and for the team.
"My dad saw me play in Toronto and Philly, and he had heard about the fans yapping at me. I asked him to watch my play and give me an objective opinion. He thought that subconsciously, possibly because of the fans, I was avoiding the puck, not carrying the puck and shirking some of my duties. Today, I tried to play positively, to play for a goal."
After the Kings' Brian Glannis tripped Rick Green, Washington hit for its second power-play score. Picard sent a pass from the left point to Sirois, who hammered his 18th goal from the right-wing circle.
Dennis Maruk scored a shorthanded breadaway goal, the Capitals' second of the season, to make it 7-2 and Blair Stewart blasted his first goal in almost two seasons from the slot to complete the Capitals' scoring.
A breakaway by Dave Taylor with 3 1/2 minutes left produced the Kings' only score in 19 third-period shots at Inness.
Picard was shaken up by a below-the-belt blow in a second-period collision with the Kings' Bert Wilson, who had to be helped off, too.
"At first I felt nothing and then just after the contact it went boom-boom-boom," said Picard, who has now scored in seven straight games, amassing 14 points in that stretch.
Asked to explain his sudden turnabout, Picard saudm "Before, maybe there was a little lack of confidence and maybe I was trying too many harder plays and not the easy ones -- going for long passes and breakaways instead of making the short pass. Now, whatever I try seems to work."