The Washington Capitals, who turn their home fans into pumpkins -- or vice versa -- set a club record tonight by going unbeaten for the fourth straight road game.
Gord Lane's second goal of the season, with 7:21 to play, brought the Caps from behind for the third time and earned a 3-3 tie with the Buffalo Sabres.
Lane carried the puck deep into Buffalo ice, fell and, after he rose, headed into the slot where he accepted a pass from Bob Sirois. Defenseman Jim Schoenfield blocked Lane's first shot, but he lifted the rebound over goalie Don Edwards.
"I'm a goal scorer by accident," said Lane, whose first goal came in his 51st game, on March 10. "When you're hot, what do you do?"
Figuring why the Capitals can be hot on foreign ice while helping the home folks develop a slow burn is a real puzzle, but Sirois, the game's No. 3 star for a fine two-way effort, offered some possibilities.
"I guess we're forcing the play more on the road," Sirois said.
"We're more conservative at home. Each time we make a mistake, we have the fans yelling at us. If we force them and get yelled at, then the next time it's only natural to back off. We take more chances on the road, where we don't care what the fans think about us.
"Wednesday we came home with a six-game unbeaten streak and they (Detroit) score one goal and the crowd is yelling at us. It stays in our mind."
"I think our forwards play differently at home," said defenseman Yvon Labre in substantiation of Sirois' remarks. "We want to do so well and so want to win for our home fans that maybe we try too hard. Then we come up big on the road when we'd rather do it at home."
The Capitals have 18 losses at home, 18 on the road. Every other team in the league has suffered more defeats away from home than in front of the loyal (?) fans.
The No. 1 star tonight was Washington defenseman Jack Lynch and if his selection drew boos from Buffalonians, it was applauded by at least eight of those in attendance -- Lynch's parents, three sisters, two brothers-in-law and one sister's boy friend.
"My dad must have picked the stars," Lynch said, laughing, after an excellent defensive effort that included cluded several blocked shots. He also tested goalie Edwards three times and had another drive ricochet off the crossbar.
"I think I'm playing better defense than I used to," Lynch said. "That was the knock on Jack Lynch before. Now I'm thinking defense first and shooting when the chances come."
The Sabres opened up with a 12-2 shooting advantage in the first nine minutes, but led by only 1-0 as goalie Jim Bedard made some big saves. The lone score was a rebound by Rene Robert, who became the seventh Sabre to reach 20 goals.
"If I make a few good saves in the first period, I know the guys will come on," Bedard said. "Yes, I'm conscious of the effect a big save or a bad goal will have on the rest of the team."
After Dennis Maruk's shot skidded wide of the Buffalo net, Rolf Edberg retrieved the puck behind the goal line and sent a centering pass into the crease. The puck hit Edwards' stick and deflected between his legs.
"I had a little luck this time; I miss the score so many times," said Edberg, who was collecting only his ninth goal.
"That's the kind he used to get back home," said fellow Swede Leif Svensson. "He got 15 or 20 like that every season."
Richard Martin converted a perfect Andre Savard pass from behind the net to give Buffalo a 2-1 lead in the second period.
Tom Rowe matched that with his 31st, from a sharp angle to the left of Edwards. Rowe stole the puck from Schoenfeld and shot, then grabbed the rebound and slid the puck behind Edwards. As the goalie turned, he knocked it into the net with his glove.
Jerry Korab's 50-footer, deflected far out by the stick of Washington's Blair Stewart, sailed over Bedard's right shoulder early in the third period, but Lane provided the equalizer.
In the closing minutes, Edwards stopped a blast by Lynch and left wing Rick Green's followup. Then Sirois hammered a shot off the goal post.
With 59 seconds left, Coach Danny Belisle called a timeout and the Capitals played conservatively to the finish.
"We're on the road and we haven't beaten this team, so I'm happy to get a tie," Belisle said. "At the end of the second period, when it was 2-2, we'd have settled for the tie instead of going through the agony of the third period."
Third period -- 5, Buffalo, Korab 11 (Ramsay), 4:26. 6, Washington, Lane 2 (Sirois, Charron), 12:39. Penalties -- None.
Shots on goal -- Washington 12-12-10 -- 34, Buffalo 19-7-8 -- 34.
Goalies -- Wahington, Bedard. Buffalo, Edwards. A -- 16,433.