The Washington Capitals played their 300th home game last night. They still are searching for victory No. 100, after Jim Fox's goal with 6:39 remaining gave the Los Angeles Kings a 3-3 tie.
A spectacular goal by Bobby Carpenter, who scored on a backhand shot from the right-wing circle, had given the Capitals a 3-2 lead eight minutes earlier. But Washington was outshot, 8-0, down the stretch, until Dennis Maruk sent a harmless attempt from the red line with five seconds left.
"After the first period we looked tired," said Washington Coach Bryan Murray. "Maybe it was the traveling, and missing a day of skating yesterday. We struggled in the latter part of the game and we refused to shoot the puck. People were passing to make the great play, instead of shooting the way Bobby Carpenter did."
Carpenter was closely guarded by defenseman Dave Lewis as he skated down the right side with each team a man short. Carpenter kept his hands free and sent a rising backhander into the far corner for his 15th goal, as goalie Doug Keans never moved, later claiming he lost the puck in the crowd.
"He (Lewis) had my body but I had my arms loose," Carpenter said. "He wasn't going for the puck or stick the way he should have. I've worked on that shot in practice. I've been shooting slap shots since I was 3 and I don't have to work on them, but being a center I have chances with the backhand and it's important to work on it."
The goal was doubly welcome, since it followed a brief scuffle between Washington's Jim McTaggart and Los Angeles' Dave Taylor, in which McTaggart received four minutes in penalties to Taylor's two. Carpenter scored during the four-on-four segment, before the Kings went on the power play.
The Capitals survived those two minutes, but the Kings pulled even after Lewis blocked another Carpenter shot and passed up to Larry Murphy, who fed Fox in the slot. Fox lifted a drive just under the crossbar to tie the score.
Washington goalie Dave Parro stopped Marcel Dionne, skating in alone with 5 1/2 minutes left, then Fox shot wide on the finish of a two-on-one a minute later.
This was Washington's 50th home tie, against 99 victories and 151 defeats. For 20 minutes, though, it looked as if No. 100 would come easily against a team that had won only one of its last 10 games and had yielded more goals than any other in the NHL.
Dennis Maruk opened the scoring with his 29th goal, No. 14 on a power play. His shot from the right-wing circle struck Murphy's skate and caromed past Keans. The man in the box was Alan Hangsleben, who acquired more penalty minutes (27) in his debut Tuesday with the Kings than he had (19) in 17 games with Washington earlier this season.
The Kings failed to score despite being two men up for 50 seconds, following tripping violations by Tony Camazzola and Rick Green. After Camazzola returned, Washington posted its fourth shorthanded goal this season. Gaetan Duchesne skated down the right side, crossed the Kings' blueline and spun to a stop. Then he made a rink-wide pass to McTaggart, who scored from 50 feet.
"I was really glad to get the goal," said McTaggart, who became a father Wednesday. "It was a great play by Gaetan, because he had a lot of company going down the side. But he held on to it and waited for me to fill the hole."
Steve Bozek, a rookie from Northern Michigan University, scored the Kings' first goal, and his 27th, on a midair rebound while Washington's Randy Holt served a high sticking penalty early in the second period. The purported victim of that foul was Ian Turnbull, who said, "I didn't see it."
Seven seconds after McTaggart completed a holding sentence, and before he could become a factor in the play, an unguarded Charlie Simmer converted Greg Terrion's pass to tie the score.
There was a moment of grave concern to the 8,499 watching a few minutes later as Duchesne was hooked down by Jay Wells on a breakaway and went sliding into the boards. He limped off, apparently in great pain, but returned for the third period with what was diagnosed as a strained right Achilles' tendon.
"It was very, very sore for five minutes, then it's okay," Duchesne said. "At first I think it's broke, but when I arrive here (the dressing room) it's okay. I put out my good leg to take the shock and the other leg twisted against the boards. It would twist while I played and hurt, but after two minutes' rest it felt okay."
Duchesne returned to action Tuesday after severely bruising his right ankle Dec. 30. Bengt Gustafsson, pulled tendons in left ankle, and Green, shoulder separation, came back last night and both had subpar performances.