Coach Danny Belisle penciled in the wrong starting lineup for the Washington Capitals tonight. It was about the only mistake the team made all night.
Dennis Maruk, Greg Polis and Guy Charron scored two goals apiece and Robert Picard collected four assists as the Capitals recorded nine goals for the first time in their five-year history in thrashing the Colorado Rockies, 9-3.
It was the most onesided road success in Capital annals and resolved favorably the speculation over how the team would react to an unprecedented 10-day midseason break.
"It was a big layoff for us," said Maruk, who reached the 20-goal mark for the fourth straight season. "I was really tired those last two games and I think the rest was good for everybody. It's nice to get 20, then you keep going. It's a lot better than stopping at 18 or something like that."
Charron also topped 20 for the fourth year in a row, reaching 21 with his pair of goals in the second period. Polis now has eight goals in 11 games with the Capitals since being obtained for $100 from the New York Rangers.
Picard's four assists set a club record for a defenseman and equaled the team mark for all positions. The four points matched the defenseman standard he set against Los Angeles Jan. 3.
"These guys are going to have to learn to relax; they were too tight out there," Belisle said facetiously after the laughter to end all laughters. "It was like an East-West game. Everybody had a lot of fun.
"The guys were really up for it. Even that first practice after we came back, they were thinking about this game. We have a tough road trip and we knew we had to be up for this one. I was concerned how we'd react, skating, passing. Nobody was even rusty."
Except Belisle, who circled Polis on his lineup card instead of Tom Rowe. By the time play stopped at the 26-second mark and Washington was assessed a penalty, however, the Capitals had a 1-0 lead.
Maruk pounced on a rebound of a Picard shot, then moved across the slot, waiting until goalie Michael Plasse went down before backhanding the puck over him.
Colorado scored twice around Ryan Walter's 23rd goal before Polis broke the game open with two goals just 3 minutes 4 seconds apart.
Two Rockies, Barry Beck and Gary Croteau, collided in Washington ice, enabling Polis to pick up the puck behind his own blue line and skate in on a breakaway. He drilled the puck under Plasse.
Then Picard, on his knees in the corner, swept the puck out to Polis in the right-wing circle and Polis' shot beat a screened Plasse for a 4-2 margin.
Bill Olesehuck replaced Plasse at the start of the second period, but Rowe embarrassed him on the first shot from well out on the right wing and Charron added his pair to put things out of reach.
The 4,658 fans were treated to a fashion show by the Rockies' wives after the second period, but they responded with little enthusiasm, except for one fan who yelled at Susan Oleschuk, "Put her in the net."
A superb rush by Leif Svensson, who showed he has recovered from his sprained ankle, left Maruk open for his 20th in the third period. Then Belisle sent out the three two-goal scorers on a power play. They were so concerned with setting each other up for a hat trick, however, that Colorado wound up with a shorthanded goal.
Finally, Bob Sirois produced the elusive ninth goal with his 22nd of the season with just 1:13 to play. The Capitals had scored eight goals six times before, including three this season, most recently in an 8-1 home-ice thrashing of the Rockies Jan. 12 that was their largest victory margin ever.
Besides Belisle's lineup snafu, the Capitals received another bench minor in the first period when goalie Gary Inness started off the ice on a delayed penalty against Colorado, then headed back toward the net after another skater had jumped on.
Inness' left shoulder was bruised, but he showed he had regained his touch by stopping five Colorado breakaways, including two by Bill Lochead with the score 1-0.
Washington's Rolf Edberg, who has received only four minutes in penalties this season, served six tonight -- the two bench minors plus a minor changed to 5-foot-7 Gary Rissling.