With their first victory of 1981 on the record at last, the Washington Capitals return to Capital Centre Thursday for a 7:35 p.m. game with the Los Angeles Kings, and in all probability Coach Gary Green will have the unaccustomed luxury of choosing any of three healthy goaltenders to protect the nets.
The Capitals were due back in town last night after snapping a five-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rookies Monday night in Denver Rookie goaltender Dave Parro, called up from Hershey of the American League to substitute for injured goaltenders Mike Palmateer and Wayne Stephenson, stopped 26 shots in that game.
But it appeared likely that both Palmateer and Stephenson would be healthy for Thursday's contest with the Kings, and there was no decision yesterday on whether to keep Parro, who has performed creditably in his substitute role, or send him back to Hershey.
Plagued by injuries -- defensemen Rick Smith and Pat Ribble had also been on the injured list -- the Capitals gave every indication Monday of finally getting their act together at the end of an extended road trip that included only one home game in nine contests since Dec. 27.
In Monday's game, Dennis Maruk scored his 28th goal with just 56 seconds remaining in the first period to provide the winning margin. The Rockies outshot the Capitals, 21-14, in the final two periods, but Parro blocked them all to protect the Capitals' lead and record his first NHL victory.
It was the Caps' 13th victory over the Rockies since the two clubs joined the league, against nine losses and five ties. It improved the Caps' record this season to 14-18-11.
After meeting Los Angeles on Thursday, the Caps travel to New York Saturday for an 8:05 p.m. game with the Islanders, then return to the Centre for five straight home games beginning with a contest Sunday at 7:05 p.m. with the Hartford Whalers.