The Philadelphia Flyers wiped out a 4-1 deficit in the last nine minutes to tie the Washington Capitals, 4-4, last night in a fight-fined game that included blatant assaults on both linesmen.
A Capital Center crowd of 11,150 chanted obscenities at the visitors, who got the last word on Bobby Clarke's second goal of the third period with 6:05 left on the clock.
The capitals, still eight points behind Pittsburgh, will entertain the Penguins tonight at 7. To gain a playoff berth, Washington must win its last four games and the Penguins must lose their last four.
Pete Peeters, the Flyers' goalie, was fined earlier this week for missing a meeting with Coach Bob McCammon. Also, following a skit in which he was portrayed as suffering a sunburned neck from the flashing red light behind him, Peeters led a dressing-room assault on the writer who authored it.
If Peeters was burned up before, he could hardly have been cooled off by the events of the first period. The Capitals took a 2-0 lead on goals that had to leave the goalie's masked face as red as the light that signaled them.
Dennis Maruk opened the scoring at 14:21, scoring his 58th goal on a shot that was launched from 15 feet outside the Philadelphia blueline. The puck struck the rear boards, caromed out, hit Peeters' skate, and slid into the net.
Philadelphia's Brad Marsh was in the penalty box for interference against Mike Gartner and the power-play goal was the 99th recorded against the Flyers this season. That tied the NHL record yield of the 1980-81 Pittsburgh Penguins.
Bobby Gould made it 2-0 at 17:29 with his 19th goal. Gould carried the puck from his blueline into Philadelphia ice, cut around defender Jim Watson and shoveled the puck one-handed toward the net. Somehow it slid under the flopping Peeters.
Peeters did stop nine shots, including Bobby Carpenter breakaway shot late in the period. Carpenter put a sensational move on defenseman Fred Arthur to get clear skating room, but Peeters made the save.
Washington goalie Dave Parro turned back eight shots. He benefited when Ron Flockhart's shot struck a post and when Bobby Clarke missed the net on Ken Linseman's setup.
The Capitals maintained their two-goal advantage as each team scored a goal in the second period. There were also 222 minutes in penalties, including six game misconducts, 12 10-minute misconducts, six majors, six minors and two physical assaults on linesmen.
With Washington's Chris Valentine off for tripping, Bill Barber shot from the blueline and Ray Allison tipped it in at 1:22, reducing washington's lead to 2-1.
The Flyers came close to a tie when Barber intercepted Darren Veitch's pass and shot from close range, but Parro smothered it and the puck stayed out, although the goal judge turned on the light.
Lee Norwood added to Peeters' embarrassment at 2:24 when he lofted a 50-foot backhander that sailed into the net to make it a 3-1 game.
There were some good chances on both sides the rest of the way, but the only entries in the statistics came on the penalty ledger.
Flockhart incited the first chapter of violence with 2:02 left in the period when he slashed Randy Holt after Holt had knocked him against the boards. Washington's Torrie Robertson became involved and, eventually, so did everyone else on the ice.
Allison knocked down Gould and was pounding him, so Holt tried to come to the rescue. When linesman Paul Flaherty intercepted him, Holt tried to shove him away and finally knocked him down, landing on Flaherty in a move similar to a wrestling takedown.
Meanwhile, Robertson and Flyer Bob Hoffmeyer engaged in a lengthy battle, with linesman Kevin Collins caught in the middle. When order was restored, Holt, Robertson, Allison and Hoffmeyer were ejected. Holt received a double minor, misconduct and double game misconduct, although referee Bruce Hood asked announcer Dave Foxx to omit an unsportsmanlike conduct minor and one of the game misconducts, presumably to keep the crowd under control.
Less than a minute later, Peeters dropped the puck. Hood, thinking he had control, blew the whistle a moment before Washington's Bobby Carpenter slid the puck into the net. Flyer Glen Cochrane immediately attacked Carpenter. Collins tried to separate them and Cochrane knocked him down to get at Carpenter again.