Jack Lynch and Gary lnness jogged through Stanley Park between rain showers today. They could be forgiven an occasional stop to pat each other on the back.
Lynch set up two Washington goals on outstanding mover from the right point and Inness blocked 37 shots Wednesday night as the Capitals escaped from Los Angeles with a 3-3 tie against the Kings.
For Lynch, it was the second straight excellent performance since Coach Danny Belisle restored him to the lineup. And it enabled Lynch to return with chin up to this city where his knee was os severdly torn on Dec. 13, 1977.
After enduring surgery and a laborious rebuilding process, Lynch began this season in Hershey and his limited time on two visits to Washington was largely spent in the press box. Finally, on Sunday night, Belisle gave Lynch an opportunity to play and he has not regretted it.
"We were playing so well with five defensemen that I didn't like to change," Belisle said. "I don't like to use six defensemen. But I gave him a chance against Montreal, which wasn't the easiest assignment, and he played really well.
"He was pinching in, getting his shot away good, reacting and jumping, all things he wasn't doing right before. I had to give him more work and last night he was the key guy on our first two goals. He definitely warrants more ice time. He's earned it now."
Lynch fired two blasts from the right point and Bob Sirois scored on a rebound of the second. Then Lynch, after crossing the blue line in trouble, dropped a pass for Tom Rowe, who scored, bringing the Capitals back from a 2-0 deficit.
"All I wanted was my chance and I'm getting it now" Lynch said. "I've always been pretty confident in what I can do. There are times where the knee is sore and uncomfortable, but I'm working pretty hard on it. That's why I ran today when we didn't have any ice."
Ever since his injury, Lynch has vowed to gain revenge on Vancouver's Hilliard Graves, the man whose blindside check disabled him. Today, however, Lynch said there would be no premeditated assault on his part when the teams meet here Friday night (WTOP-1500 at 11 p.m.).
"I just want to play another good game," Lynch said. "It feels so good to be contributing again that I don't want anything to take away from it."
As it turned out, Vancouver General Manager Jake Milford made it easy for Lynch to concentrate on hockey. Before leaving for Sweden today, Milford shipped Graves to New Brunswick of the American Hockey League.
Inness, who had yielded 20 goals in his last 3 1/2 games, was sharper Wednesday, although he was dropping to the ice more than usual. He kept Washington in the game with some spectacular saves and preserved the tie by reaching out to make a waisthigh stick save on Butch Goring in the last five seconds.
"The last few games, I've been distracted by different things going on instead of following the puck," Inness said."I'm trying to stay up and challenge more, but the first two goals were third-rebound-shot type of things and you can't do much about them."
Inness received help from defenseman Robert Picard, who made three successive second-period stops on Dave Taylor with his body while kneeling in the crease after Taylor had faked Inness out of positikon.
"I saw what was happening and I didn't want to rush back in and get in Pic's way," Inness said. "He made some good saves. Maybe he'll be willing to trade spots with me some night."
Inness and Picard, who has no intention of becoming a goalie, were kidding Dennis Maruk who was unable to prevent the King's Bert Wilson from jamming the puck past him in similar circumstances in the first period.
Maruk scored the tying goal with 8:37 remaining. He shot the puck off the crossbar into the stands on a breakaway with three minutes left.