The Washington Capitals outshot an opponent tonight for the first time this season. The 32-20 figures on the shot clock had no relation to the final score, however, as the Philadelphia Flyers skated to an easy 5-2 victory, their second success against Washington in two nights.
Reg Leach enjoyed his third straight two-goal game, sending the Flyers ahead to stay after just 49 seconds. Bobby Clark and Behn Wilson added power-play goals and Ron Flockhart closed out the scoring against Washington goalie Mike Palmateer, who had a tough night in a lot of ways.
Palmateer, angry because he had been bumped aside by Ken Linseman on Philadelphia's fourth goal, slashed the Flyers' center the next time he came near the net. Linseman responded by twice banging his stick on Palmateer's head.
One had visions of what would happen if somebody had conked Flyer goalie Rick St. Croix, no matter the provocation. The Capitals, who supposedly substitute togetherness for the enforcer types evident on other Patrick Division teams, did not so much as shout at Linseman.
Asked whether he expected his players to respond in such a situation, Washington Coach Gary Green said, "Yeah, sure, but -- they have to want to do it. There has got to be desire on our part. You can yell and scream but it's got to come from inside. It's a new team, but that's no excuse. You play together as a team no matter how long you've been together.
"Within our end zone, we had the same problem. We have to play more aggressively. On the power play, we gave them the perimeter shot, which is easy for our goalie to handle, and that will work if our point men can overpower the man they put in front of the net. But they're not doing it.
"We had more shots -- big deal. There were no tips or screens and the Flyers cleared out the net area well. We weren't hungry for the second or third shot. St. Croix played well but anybody can make the first save if nobody's pressing him for the rebound."
Asked hypothetically about his club's reaction to an attack on the goalie, no matter the reason, Flyers' Coach Pat Quinn said, "I would hope nobody would try to do that to our goalie. But we've gotten new directives from the league that tell us not to react to anything.
"They're making an attempt to change the game so much that players are afraid to do anything, for fear they'll get a two- or three-game suspension. Mutual support, especially in the name of the goaltender, is disappearing. They're trying to take the name team out of our game."
Quinn told a reporter he was welcome to read the directive and pointed to the waste basket where he had deposited it. So much for the Flyers' reaction.
Philadelphia played aggressively throughout and Jean Pronovost and Mike Gartner were the victims of some devasting checks by Glen Cochrane and Bob Dailey, respectively. Pronovost was knocked dizzy and had to be helped from the ice in the second period. Although he returned later, he looked so bad at the time that referee Bob Myers stopped play, a moment before Bill Barber scored an apparent Flyer goal.
Dennis Maruk, the smallest Capital, went after Cochrane on the next shift and their brief flare-up produced 90 minutes in penalties -- two majors and eight misconducts -- as Myers acted decisively to prevent an outbreak of violence.
Glen Currie, recalled from Hershey this morning when Orest Kindrachuck reported strained back muscles, scored Washington's first goal on a deflection of a Bobby Carpenter shot. Maruk completed the scoring on a power-play with 1:36 left, Washington's only extra-man score in seven chances. Twice the Capitals were unable to convert two-man advantages.
While Palmateer received minimal help, St. Croix was blessed at the other end. Dailey slid into a vacated crease to block both a shot by Pronovost and Maruk's rebound. Jim Watson filled in for a wandering St. Croix to foil Bob Kelly from close range. Even the crossbar helped, deflecting a Rick Green drive over the glass.
If the Flyers had any bad vibes, they came from the crowd, announced as 17,018, first nonsellout in 10 years.