Halfway through their four-game road trip, the Washington Capitals have salvaged a tie in Winnipeg by coming back from a 2-0 deficit and watched a 3-0 lead dissolve into a 5-3 loss to Vancouver.
The Sunday loss ended Washington's six-game unbeaten streak, leaving the Capitals two points behind the third-place New York Rangers in the Patrick Division.
Tuesday night, Washington will play the Calgary Flames, a team the Capitals beat last week at Capital Centre. The Capitals wind up the road trip in Edmonton Wednesday. At the start of this season's first extended trip, Coach Bryan Murray had been optimistic about getting "a couple wins, maybe more."
"For two games (Winnipeg and Vancouver), we've played 1 1/2 good periods of hockey," said Mike Gartner. "That's just not enough. We've had problems, but we've got to play three good periods."
Although Murray was reluctant to single out any particular play responsible for his team's loss, he pointed out an incident involving goalie Pat Riggin and Dave Williams midway through the second period. "I saw Tiger Williams go for Pat from the faceoff," he said. "Tiger does it and gets away with it, so why not? But that had an effect."
Riggin didn't think so. "Williams grabbed my stick and I took a whack at him. We've done it before. It didn't affect my game." Both players were penalized for roughing and, less than a minute later, Smyl began the Canucks' scoring. And, Randy Holt said, "They saw we came out in the third period and had no interest in offense."
But the goal that won the game didn't come from anyone in a Canucks jersey. With the score tied, 3-3, late in the third period, Glen Currie accidentally gave Vancouver the victory when he touched his stick to a cross-ice pass. Last handled by Darcy Rota, the puck was tumbling through the crease when Currie reacted by tipping it past Riggin. "I tried to shift to my backhand, and that was it (the game)," Currie said later.
"I guess this will have to be a character builder," said General Manager David Poile.
Washington also lost Timo Blomqvist for the rest of this trip when a check from Stan Smyl left him with badly bruised ribs