Jorgen Petterson and Wayne Babych set records for the St. Louis Blues as they defeated the Capitals, 7-4, tonight, ending the longest month in the National Hockey League season for Washington.
Petterson, a rookie from Sweden, scored three goals for the hat trick. His first of the night broke the St. Louis record for the most goals scored by a rookie.It was his 28th of the season. He scored no. 29 later in the first period and No. 30 in the third.
Babych, the Blues' sensational right winger, scored two goals and broke a team record for most goals in a season. His first score gave him 44 for the year, which set the mark, and his second goal came in the third period to complete the scoring.
All of this merriment for the league-leading Blues came at the expense of the Capitals, who now haven't won a game in their last 11. The last Washington victory (7-4 over Edmonton) came on the first day of February.
"We've got to get this slump out of our system," said Capital Coach Gary Green. "We're going to have to erase the entire month of February from our minds. It was a horrible month Thank God it's over."
Green replaced Mike Palmateer with Dave Parro in the third period after St. Louis had scored its final goal. Green said Palmateer was injured ("He had a twinge in his knee") but the goalie said he faked the injury because the coach was going to pull him anyway.
Green said the fact they were playing St. Louis meant a lot to the players, as Washington is struggling for a playoff berth and the Blues are the league leaders.
"What happened here tonight," said Green, "isn't all that hard to take when you consider who we were playing.In fact, we've met three pretty good teams the week but we really thought we were ready tonight."
To be sure, the Caps didn't roll over and play dead for the Blues, who now have 89 points and the best record in the NHL (38-13-13).
Washington played on even terms in the first period, which ended at 3-3. Defenseman Pierre Bouchard scored n a slap shot 39 seconds into the game and the Caps were off and winging. But the Blues came back on goals by Pettersson and Brian Sutter to take the lead in the next four minutes.
At that point, the home crowd of 17,157 seemed to sense another one of the Blues' Saturday night specials. Goalie Eddie Staniowski always plays in goal on the seventh night and has yet to lose this season.
But the Caps were persistent. Bob Kelly and Mike Gartner scored to put Washington back in the lead. But Pettersson scored again at 17:12 and the first period ended tied.
Both teams put on furious rushes in the second period but the Blues got the best of it. Sutter scored his second goal of the game and St. Louis took a 4-3 lead. Then Darren Veitch tied it with a hard slap shot from the right side.
The Blues, winning for the 24th time at home this season, took the lead on Babych's record-setting goal and they carried a 5-4 lead into the final period.
Petterson and Babych scored again early in the final period and Green replaced Palmateer with Parro.