According to Gary Green's philosophy, a defeat must hurt, no matter how well a team plays. Nobody disputed Green last night, after the Boston Bruins scored twice in the final period to overhaul Green's Washington Capitals, 3-2.
Washington carried a 2-1 lead into the third period against a team that had won four straight and was unbeaten in its last seven games. Additionally, the Capitals never had beaten the Bruins in 25 previous games.
While the Capitals managed only two shots in the last 20 minutes, Stan Jonathan and Dick Redmond hammered pucks past Wayne Stephenson to pull it out for Boston.
"I hate to lose and coming close doesn't mean a thing to me," Green said after his NHL debut. "I think we could have won. We made one crucial mistake on the power play, with two guys chasin one, and we left Redmond out there alone."
With Pete Scamurra off for holding after Boston's Rick Middleton took a dive, Remond drilled a 45-footer beyond Stephenson, whose view was screened by Jonathan.
The goal with 6:02 remaining shattered a 2-2 tie created at 2:01 of the period when Jonathan hit from the inner edge of the left-wing circle on Middleton's setup.
Green was a whirlwind behind the bench to the end, directing traffic and offering advice, but the Capitals had little to offer in the closing minutes. A major penalty to Ryan Walter, whose stick accidentally cut Boston's Wayne Cashman, further restricted a comeback attempt and left the Capitals shorthanded for the final 22 seconds.
"We didn't really have the legs," Green said. "There is a conditioning problem here. But they have the desire and the heart and I can get them the conditioning."
The Bruins were shocked by Washington's early assault and managed only three shots on goal in the first period. Middleton shattered the scoreless tie at 9:50 of the second period, on a power play created by a Paul Mulvey roughing penalty, but the Capitals boundced back just seven seconds later on a rifle shot from the right-wing circle by Tom Rowe of nearby Lynn, Mass.
Scamurra sent Washington ahead with a quick burst down the rightwing circle, poking his own rebound past Gilles Gilbert while Boston's Terry O'Reilly served the unsportsmanship conduct portion of a double minor. t
"Going into the third period, as Gary says, we've got to want to win a lot more," Walter said after the game got away. "I don't want to be negative, but we've had enough of 'You guys played well and lost, 3-2.' I think that's going to change."
"It's no good to lose by one, you might as well lose by 10," said Robert Picard, who recorded no after-effects of a late-game stick in the abdomen. "But if we keep playing like this, we'll come out ahead."
"After the second period, we just thought there was no way we'd lose it," said Mark Lofthouse, who played well while skating more than usual. "I'm really disappointed, like everyone else here. We matched a good team stride for stride and everybody felt confident.Everybody really likes Gary and his system is easy to play. I know it quite well, because I played for him at Hershey. You just can't get 16 shots and win, though."
Tim Coulis, called up from Hershey today while Claude Noel returned and Rolf Edberg nursed a sprained right knee, looked good in his NHL debut as he became the 100th player to wear a Washington Uniform.
The Capitals return home Friday for an 8 p.m. duel with Detroit. A postgame Turkey Shootout for all female fans is scheduled and the players to a man promise they won't look like turkeys this time -- or ever again.