The Washington Capitals finished their last long road trip of the season winless in five games, but on the morning after Saturday night's 6-1 loss to the Canadiens here, they weren't dwelling on the negative.
They were going home, and that made everything, even the latest in a mind-bending series of injuries to their goaltenders, easier to take.
The concluding game of the 0-3-2 trip was forgettable in every way, right down to the silly third period free-for-all that produced 184 minutes in penalties for seven Caps and five Canadiens, including two game misconducts for instigator Chris Nilan, Montreal's resident outlaw.
This morning, Coach Gary Green was anxious to put the Caps' 20th loss in 20 appearances at The Forum out of mind.
"It was one of those games you tend to try to analyze over and over and over again, and then you put away your notes and forget about it," Green said. "It doesn't matter if you lost 6-1 or 2-1, you learn what you can from it and go back to work to make improvements."
"The players didn't quit, they worked hard all night. That's a good sign, and the predominent thing in my mind.If you see them giving up, not skating, not working, that's when you really get concerned. I didn't see that. Montreal only got one bad goal. They had two power play goals. Take those away and it was a 3-0 game.
We're looking forward to the best part of our schedule, with 13 of the last 23 games at home. The bad part is over, 15 of 23 games on the road. We don't have any more real road trips. Only once do we play two away games in a row (March 24, 26 at Philadelphia and Detroit) so that's a relief for the mind."
Also for the body. The Capitals play only twice this week, against Chicago Wednesday at Capital Centre and against the Rangers Saturday in New York. That will allow several flu-ridden players, including Bengt Gustatsson and captain Ryan Walter, who spoiled Montreal rookie goaltender Richard Sevigny's shutout with a third period goal, to regain their strength. Green might even be able to shake his persistent cold and sort out the carnage in the nets.
Rookie Dave Parro reinjured the left shoulder he dislocated Feb. 4 in Calgary when he dived to the ice here in the second period in a futile effort to prevent Montreal's second power play goal in 50 seconds. He had the arm in a sling today, and was scheduled to be examined in Washington.
Parro started only because No. 1 netminder Mike Palmateer was home with a badly swollen left hand, hurt in Buffalo Thursday night. The hand will be X-rayed again Monday.
Wayne Stephenson, sidelined since the first week in January with a back ailment, finished the game, the fifth in a row in which Washington's starting goalie was forced out by injury. He allowed two goals in just under 30 minutes, but Green was encouraged, sort of.
"I don't think our goaltending problems are as serious as they seem," rasped the coach. "I don't think Palmateer will be out very long, and Stephenson looks like he's getting some vital signs back. I don't think he played too bad last night. I'm just guessing, but I think we'll have Parro ready again within a couple of weeks."