The Washington Capitals get another chance to chip into the Pittsburgh Penguins' 14-point margin tonight at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh (WDCA-TV-20 at 8).
The teams met at Capital Centre Sunday and Washington defeated the Penguins for the first time this season, 8-3, chasing All-Star goalie Michel Dion with six goals in 27 minutes.
Dion's backup, Paul Harrison, was given a rare start Wednesday at home against Minnesota and the Penguins lost again, 9-6. The Capitals, however, have also lost two straight, to the New York Islanders.
"The guys have come on and they're working awfully hard," Coach Bryan Murray said. "We're playing about as well as we can right now, but the Islanders are playing pretty well, too. I feel pretty good about playing Pittsburgh and then Quebec here (on Sunday). They're not the problem the Islanders are."
Defenseman Jim McTaggart was farmed to Hershey yesterday, as some of the ailing defenders showed signs of returning to work. McTaggart had played infrequently since returning from Hershey Jan. 1, and Murray was upset with his lack of aggressiveness.
Timo Blomqvist, out a week with a bruised foot, is available tonight, as is Randy Holt, who sat out Thursday's 5-2 loss with a damaged hand. Winger Mike Gartner and goalie Al Jensen, who suffered minor leg injuries, are also ready to play.
Defenseman Greg Theberge, idle since Jan. 3 with stretched knee ligaments, will probably see limited duty in the game against Quebec Sunday. Theberge is particularly valuable on the power play, a zero-for-10 disaster area on Thursday.
General Manager Roger Crozier said he did not expect much further alteration in the lineup, with the proviso that one or two surplus players might be assigned to Hershey before the team heads west on Wednesday.
"Except maybe for Louie Franceschetti, there's not much there that can help us," Crozier said. "And Frank Mathers (the Bears' president and general manager) is making a run for the playoffs, so we don't want to mess him up."