When Dennis Maruk scores goals, they usually come in bunches. Furthermore, when Maruk scores in bunches, the Washington Capitals usually win. That was the formula last night, as Maruk scored two goals, for a total of 19, and the Capitals entertained a Capital Centre crowd of 13,273 with a 6-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The success boosted the Capitals to 7-6-9, the first time they have ever topped the .500 mark beyond the first two weeks of the season. In five of those seven victories, Maruk has scored two or more goals. He has six multigoal games, only five with singles.
"Some games you don't get any scoring chances," Maruk said. "They'll put a man on you and you can't get a pass because you're always covered. Then some nights everything comes to you and you get a lot of chances."
Maruk had six shots on goal last night as Washington fired a season high 43 shots at Toronto goalie Curt Ridley, who was outstanding despite playing only his third game of the season and first since Nov. 9.
"He played well, considering the six goals we got," said Maruk, who was deprived of a hat trick by a great Ridley save early in the third period. "We had so many shots and so many chances, we knew we had to score. We just kept going and they finally came."
Three Washington goals came on power plays, a pleasant change for a club that has the worst extra-man statistics in the NHL. But then, the Capitals had nine opportunities, as Toronto was saddled with everything from a minor for sassing a linesman to a major for a stick in the mouth.
"A lot of power-play and penalty-killing situations like that take away from the forechecking and mess up you game plan," said Washington Coach Gary Green. "But we'll take the power-play situations. We got a lot of practice that we need badly."
Maruk controlled a wide shot by Alan Hangsleben with his skate and steered the puck behind Ridely to open the scoring with the Leafs' Dave Farrish off for hooking. That came on the Capitals' fourth power play; it took the Leafs only five seconds of their first extra-man opportunity to get even. Dan Maloney deflected a Borje Salming drive after Washington goalie Wayne Stephenson was penalized for roughing Wilf Paiement.
"He came into the crease and I pushed him. I don't consider that roughing," Stephenson said.
Each team was a man short when Maruk made a skate deflection of a Pat Ribble drive to put Washington ahead to stay early in the second period. Bengt Gustafsson, the man who later got Farrish's stick in his mouth for a six-stitch major, made it 3-1 on a setup by Wes Jarvis. Then, before the period ended, Bob Kelly took advantage of Paiement's big mouth for a power-play deflection of a shot by Jean Pronovost.
Hangsleben, who fought Paiement following the Stephenson incident earlier, became tangled with Toronto's No. 99 again. They were separated by the Linesman and Paiement, trying to get back in the fight, was tackled by linesman Bob Luther.
Both players received major penalties and, with less than five minutes remaining in the period, both were escorted to the dressing rooms. En route, Paiement, who had banged his kne, berated escort Luther. When Luther reported to referee Ron Harris, Paiement was assessed an additional 10-minute misconduct and a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct.
After Rick Vaive reduced the Capital's margin to 4-2 in the first minute of the third period, Ribble scored with Washington enjoying a two-man advantage to wrap it up. The men in the box were Ian Turnbull, who tripped Maruk, and Farrish, who used Gustafsson for a chopping block. Rolf Edberg then closed out the scoring with his first goal since Oct. 30.
The game dragged on almost three hours, in part because of the 26 penalties assessed by Harris, who did an excellent job keeping things under control. But the delays were also caused by a clock that was inoperative, forcing the game time to be kept in minuscule figures on Telscreen, and the complete absence of penalty time.
Toronto Coach Joe Crozier was incensed by the clock failure and complained several times to the minor officials, although he did not avail himself of the opportunity to place an observer in the timer's box.
"I wrote down the time on a penalty to (Rocky) Saganiuk and they kept him in the box 10 seconds too long," Crozier said. "It's not honest. And it's not the first time I've heard the rumor about that thing around here."
While berating the off-ice officials, Crozier did not withhold deserved praise from the Capitals and goalie Stephenson, who made some excellent stops with the score 4-2.
"They played real well, digging in the corners and making good passes," Crozier said. "And Stephenson played very well. He stopped (Darryl) Sittler head on, he stopped Salming head on, he stopped (Paul) Marshall head on, he stopped (Pat) Hickey head on."
Crozier, shaking his head, at least did not have to think of facing Stephenson again tonight. The Capitals' goalie for the return match in Maple Leaf Gardens (WDCA-TV-20 at 8) will be Mike Palmateer, traded by the Leafs in that big offseason deal for Robert Picard.