Jean Pronovost, his chin slashed for 12 stitches in the second period, returned in the third last night and scored with 68 seconds left to earn the Washington Capitals a 5-5 tie against the Chicago Black Hawks at Capital Centre.
Three minutes earlier Ryan Walter, who has been spending more time in a sickbed than in hockey rinks scored his second goal of the game to create a 4-4 tie. But the 11,254 fans and the two teams had only begun to feel the emotional wringer, because with 1:56 remaining Chicago rookie Darryl Sutter scored his 31st goal for a 5-4 Chicago lead.
There was controversy over Pronovost's tying goal, as there had been other debatable situations earlier. Chicago goalie Tony Esposito felt he had control of the puck and that refree Bob Myers should have blown the whistle, but Bengt Gustafsson knocked the puck away from Esposito and Pronovost reached around defender Bob Murray to poke it into the empty net.
"I thought I had it more than three seconds," Esposito said. "I don't know whether he (Myers) saw it or not. But it eventually came loose."
"I was tied up but my stick wasn't," Pronovost said. "He (Murray) did the right thing for me. He didn't grab my stick, he was pushing on me. Esposito was trying to grab the puck with his hand, but it was still in play and Gus knocked it toward me."
Pronovost was hurt in the second period, moments before Ted Bulley scored for a 2-1 Chicago lead. Sutter and Pronovost collided behind the Chicago net and Sutter's skate raked Pronovost's chin.
"It was just like a razor blade cut," Pronovost said. "He fell and the skate came up and I knew I was cut, but I didn't know how deep. I tried to get my sweater up to stop the blood, but it kept pouring out. I knew I'd better get off and get fixed up."
Chicago came close to a two-goal lead less than two minutes later, but Sutter bumped into Washington goalie Mike Palmateer and was called for interference before the puck entered the net. On the ensuing power play, Dennis Maruk matched his career high of 36 goals, set in Cleveland in 1977-78, and the score was 2-2.
"I thought that would have won it for us because the goal was in," said Chicago Coach Keith Magnuson. "Instead of a two-goal lead, they score and it's tied. I think the reason the ref called it was because Palmy did such a good job of acting."
"I thought I got knocked into him and when I asked the ref after the second period he told me he didn't know if I was but that I gave him a little extra," Sutter said. "I don't think it was a penalty, but Palmy's a pretty good actor."
"There was no acting involved," said Palmateer, who played despite a sprained left ankle and a bruised left hand. "I was moving out with a shot and I had just deflected it with the back of my pad when he nailed me. Actually, I made a great save on that one, and I've got a feeling if it had gone in he (Myers) probably wouldn't have said a thing."
Gustafsson intercepted a Terry Ruskowski pass and scored on a breakaway to give the Capitals a 3-2 lead before the second period ended. In the last 16 minutes of that period, Washington outshot Chicago, 20-5.
But early in the third period Palmateer drew a delay penalty for lofting the puck over the glass and Chicago's power play produced a tying score by Glen Sharpley. The crowd voiced its disaproval with boos.
"I shot the puck as it was coming at me and it seemed like it hit something on the ice and took off," Palmateer said. "As soon as it went up, I knew I was in trouble, because it went so high over the glass, where the glass is at its highest point.
"If I tried 100 times, I couldn't do that again, so close to the glass. The guy ought to know it's almost impossible to do that with a goalie stick and goalie gloves."
Later, Hawk Tim Higgins blocked a Pat Ribble shot, sending rookie Denis Savard in on a two-on-one break that Savard converted for his 22nd goal and a 4-3 Chicago lead.
But Walter split defenders Keith Brown and Greg Fox, then jammed the puck through Esposito to tie the folks up in knots the first time. It was a brilliant effort for the Capital captain, chosen No. 1 star for the first time this season.
"I felt great tonight," said Walter, who was throwing his body into anything that moved in a red sweater. "The throat was still there, but my body was feeling better. I was so ready for that game. They wouldn't let me practice, so I've been sitting at home twiddling my thumbs. I'm sick of cleaning up and doing dishes.
"We wanted to win real bad but we'll take the point The way it developed it's a character builder for this team."
The Capitals, winless in their last six games, of which three were tied, have 53 points. They share 12th place with the New York Rangers, whom they play Saturday, Chicago, unbeaten in its last nine and 14-2-4 since Jan. t3, is ninth with 62 points.
"Things even out," Magnuson said. "I think we played well enough for a tie. I'm sure that third period was more wide open than either Gary or I wanted it."