The sick and wounded Washington Capitals proved luckless as well tonight. Outshooting the Calgary Flames by 40-32, the Capitals put nothing on the scoreboard, as goalie Rejean Lemelin led the Flames to a 6-0 victory.
While Lemelin was maintaining his perfect record, 7-0-4, since being recalled from Birmingham Nov. 19, the Capitals were being blanked for the second time in four games and their losing streak was being stretched to four.
Missing five regular defensemen and both regular goalies, the Capitals were stunned by Eric Vail's rebound goal just 19 seconds after the game began. By the first minute of the second period it was 4-0 and Coach Gary Green was forced to abandon his strategy of slowing the tempo so that his ailing players could have enough left for a late surge.
A team in Washingtonhs straits could have quit at that point, but the Capitals kept on trying. They outshot Calgary, 16-5, in the second period and held the Flames without a shot for 14 minutes. Naturally, when Calgary finally put one on net early in the third period, it went in.
The Capitals' power play was a disaster once again. Washington failed to score in 12 extra-man opportunities, including a pair of 65-second two-man advantages, thereby running the current stretch of power-play futility to 33. The Flames' third goal was scored shorthanded by Don Lever, the third shorthanded goal yielded by Washington in two games.
"A goal on the first shift, that kills you -- and a shorthanded goal, too," Green said. "When we played defensively, we helped out the defensemen and played fairly disciplined hockey. But we couldn't stick with it. I wasn't trying to lose by a low score. I wanted to win.
"At least the guys kept on working. That's all I can ask right now. I can't go in there and criticize them. You can't fool them. They know what we're up against with two goaltenders and five defensemen out. They're not stupid."
Defenseman Yvon Labre was shipped back to Washington today, his right knee swollen once more. Alan Hangsleben moved back on defense and his spot at left wing was filled by Torrie Robertson, who was shanghaied between planes at Calgary Airport, where he had a stopover en route to joining his Victoria junior team in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Robertson, who had missed Victoria's last two games with a bruised foot, came closest to beating Lemelin. He knocked the puck into the net after Lemelin dropped a third-period blast by Hangsleben, but referee Andy Van Hellemond thought Lemelin had possession and blew his whistle.
"The whistle went," Robertson said. "I guess he didn't see it. He was on the other side of the goal. It would have been nice. I was surprised to be here. I was just sitting in the airport when they came and got me."
Rollie Boutin was Washington's goalie, making his first 60-minute appearance in a Capital uniform since Feb. 21, 1980, when the Flames' Pat Riggin beat the Capitals in Atlanta, 3-0.
Washington's Glen Currie played with a plastic cap on the ring finger of his left hand. The finger was cracked Wednesday night and six stitches were needed to repair the tip. Rick Green and Bengt Gustafsson were sick, while Howard Walker took a painful whack in the ribs in the third period. For the Capitals, it was a night to forget.