The Capitals annihilated the Philadelphia Flyers on the scoreboard and more than held their own in the dirty tricks department on the ice tonight.
The results of 3 hours 30 minutes' hard labor were a most satisfying 7-2 exhibition victory for Washington and another black mark for the sport of hockey.
Five Capitals and one Flyer were assessed game misconducts as the penalty figures reached 181 for Washington and 144 for Philadelphia.
It took one hour 20 minutes to play -- if that is the word -- the second period. A 10-minute bench-clearing brawl was followed by a 10-minute accounting session for referee Ron Harris and endless stoppages while players and minor officials tries to digest the delayed penalties. Goaltender Wayne Stephenson, who blanked his former Flyer teammates with a brilliant effort over 30 minutes, was ejected from the game at that stage for disputing Harris' handling of the ugly situation.
Paul Mulvey, Tim Tookey, Dennis Maruk and Mike Gartner catapulted the Capitals into a 4-0 lead in the first 27 minutes. Then a blazing body-checking duel between Washington's Bengt Gustafsson and the Flyers' Yves Preston boiled over into chaos.
Preston, dumped twice by the hardhitting Gustafsson earlier, thought he had the Swede lined up against the boards and tried to blast Gustafsson. Instead, he skated into Gustafsson's stick and crumpled to the ice.
Flyer Gary Morrison went after Gustafsson and was intercepted by Alan Hangsleben. When ex-Flyer Bob Kelly grabbed Morrison from the bench, the entire Flyer team raced onto the ice and the players paired off in shoving matches that could not be terminated until exhaustion set in.
Kelly, Washington captain Ryan Walter and Flyer Ron Busniuk were ejected -- the latter pair for refusing to cease firing punches. Stephenson, who stood arm in arm with Flyer goalie Rick St. Croix during that battle, departed three minutes later.
After he received an unsportmanlike conduct minor for disputing Harris' officiating, Stephenson skated out to center ice and was ejected. It took three teammates to steer him to the dressing room as he tried to get to Harris.
Mike Palmateer replaced Stephenson and almost left in a hurry himself. Palmateer slashed Paul Holmgren, who responded with a spear that left Palmateer on his knees. The little goalie rose and finished the game, however, avoiding a thorny situation over a possible replacement.
Capital rookie Howard Walker smashed Preston into the boards to trigger another wild scene. Preston rose and attacked Walker who punched the Flyer to his knees. All the players on the ice declined to obey the new rule to proceed to neutral corners and all were sent off with misconduct penalties. Walker became the fourth Capital to be ejected from the game.
At this point, the Flyers had four players on the bench and four in the penalty box. Washington five on the bench and three in the box. The loudest cheer of the night from the 7,224 fans greeted the end of the period, in which Washington accumulated 126 penalty minutes, the Flyers 89.
There was no letup in the foul play as the third period proceeded. Washington's Mulvey and Flyer Tim Kerr exchanged punches with each receiving enough penalties to depart the premises for good.
Teammates followed Harris' orders to stay away that time, but it was mass mayhem again when Holmgren crashed into Palmateer and refused to get off the goalie. Rick Green pulled Holmgren away in the absence of an alert linesman and was ejected as the third man in the altercation.
Palmateer was cheered loudly when he assisted on Gartner's second goal of the game, which concluded the scoring. Mulvey also had two goals for the winners.