The Washington Capitals lost a game and a player tonight. While the Capitals were being thrashed by the Chicago Black Hawks' 5-2, left wing Leif Svensson suffered a dislocated shoulder and will be out indefinitely.
"I can't believe it," said Coach Gary Green. "It's one thing after another the way injuries go for us. Every time we get some momentum, another guy is gone."
Svensson was knocked off balance by Chicago's Doug Wilson midway through the third period, then was checked by Ted Bulley. Svensson landed hard, rolled over and, after he rose, skated to the dressing room cradling his left arm.
The Chicago Stadium crowd of 8,372, inflamed when Bulley was sent crashing into the boards by Washington's Rick Green a few minutes earlier, cheered as Svensson lay on the ice. As he skated out, in obvious pain, the crowd booed.
The Hawks scored two goals 10 seconds apart early in the game and Washington never caught up. Whenever the Capitals threatened to make a game of it, Chicago goalie Tony Esposito came up with some big saves tonight, following breakaways by Tim Coulis and Rolf Edberg.
Washington's goals were scored by Mike Ksycki and Bob Sirois. Kazycki closed the gap to 2-1 when he took Svensson's long pass, maneuvered past defenseman Greg Fox and lifted the puck over Esposito's right shoulder for his eighth goal. Washington goalie Rollie Boutin earned an assist for starting the play.
Sirois pulled Washington within 4-2 on a power-play score in the second period. He deflected a drive by Green, which Esposito blocked. Sirois corralled the rebound and lifted it over the goalie.
"We had good oportunities the first half of the game, but Tony O came up big. We wanted to go high on him and the two goals came that way, but we weren't able to do it often enough," said Coach Green.
"It wasn't a very exciting game. There's something about this building that doesn't seem to generate enthusiasm. We came out playing with some intensity, but we had those two goals scored on us and we lost the momentum. That second goal really hurt."
The first Chicago score, at 2:51, came as Grant Mulvey deflected a Bob Murray drive past Boutin while Mulvey's brother, Paul, sat in Washington's portion of the penalty box. It was Grant Mulvey's 26th goal of the season, 13th on extra-man situations.
Ten seconds later Chicago's Tim Higgins came down the right wing over the blue line and fired away. Boutin gloved the puck, leaned backward and saw it fall into the net.
A cross-ice pass by Grant Mulvey set up Terry Ruskowski for a power-play goal late in the first period and Tim Trimper, who played for Gary Green at Peterborough last year, made it 4-1 off a Keith Brown drop pass early in the second period.
Tom Lysiak closed the scoring on a second rebound during a goal-mouth pile-up. It also came on a power play, as Chicago boosted its success ratio to 24.3 percent, one of the NHL's best.
"Our penalty killing has been pretty good, but we broke our playing aggressively and got caught out of position tonight," Green said. "They waited for that and hit those cross-ice passes. They've got a good power play. It's nice to keep it set from the beginning of the year to the end without having to break it up."
Losing Svensson was bad enough, but it might have been an even worse night for the Capitals. Mike Gartner was dumped into the boards by Murray early in the second period. Gartner skated off slowly, then rested his head on the board in front of the bench for a couple of minutes. He finished the game, but later was taken to a hospital for x-rays of a painful heel.