The Washington Capitals scored six goals in the third period tonight, a one-period record for the team on the road, including goals 16 seconds apart by Ryan Walter and Bob Kelly and two by Dennis Ververgaert within 13 seconds.
Despite this effort, which helped to erase a 4-1 Detroit advantage, the Capitals wound up in a 7-7 tie. It was their ninth deadlock in a 6-6-9 season and it certainly was the weirdest.
Ververgaert's pair boosted Washington into a 6-5 lead with 9:19 remaining. Mike Foligno's second goal for Detroit erased it 92 seconds later.
Dennis Maruk's backhand, his second score of the game and 17th of the season, made it 7-6 for Washington at 14:27. But Paul Mulvey took the period's first penalty for hooking at 16:41 and Detroit needed only 12 seconds to tie it for the last time, on a goal by George Lyle.
For the last 91 seconds, the Capitals were forced to survive another penalty, as Alan Hangsleben went off for hooking. They somehow managed it, to the chagrin of the 12,336 fans, with goalie Mike Palmateer diving in every direction.
Oddly, the shots were only 31-24, in the favor of the Wings, who were trying to win for Wayne Maxner, making his NHL debut behind the bench. It was a strange result for Maxner and Gary Green, two graduates of the Ontario Major Junior League who preach disciplined hockey.
"For fans who liked goals, they were treated to it tonight," Green said. "You expect a 7-7 game when the shots are 54-54. Defensively, we didn't play well out there. We were pressing offensively, three men in, when we were behind, and then when we got ahead we couldn't seem to turn that off."
The Washington defensemen were repeatedly trapped at the blueline -- or elsewhere -- and it must come as good news that defenseman Rick Green apparently does not have a fractured right wrist, after all.
Green was examined by Dr. Pat Palumbo today in Washington and there was no evidence of a fracture. However, the wrist was badly jammed and it was so sore that another cast was applied. Green will be reexamined Monday and, if all is well, could be playing by the end of next week.
"Our defense stood up well in those two games at home," Gary Green said, "but tonight we needed that extra protection. Green and (Paul) MacKinnon would have been welcome. The thought of Greenie coming back in a week's time is a good one."
Ververgaert had missed Saturday's game because of the death of his father and tonight he was skating for the first time since Friday. So it had to be pleasing to him to score two goals in 13 seconds to lift the Capitals from a 5-4 deficit to a 6-5 lead. First he deflected a Pat Ribble slap shot, then he converted a Bengt Gustafsson pass.
Although outshot, 12-3, the Capitals escaped the first period with a 1-1 deadlock, as Maruk scored on a power play and Palmateer was outstanding. However, the Wings drew strength from killing off a double minor in which they were two men short for 1 minute 49 seconds late in the second period. Two seconds before the second penalty ended, Paul Woods scored a short-handed goal for Detroit.