Goaltender Al Jensen returned to Detroit tonight and showed 11,676 spectators and the Red Wings' management what they missed by trading him away.
Jensen stopped 20 shots, several in crucial circumstances, and the Washington Capitals whipped the Wings, 5-2, to extend to nine their club-record string of road games without a defeat.
Once again, the Capitals climbed over the New York Islanders and into second place in the Patrick Division. Eight games over .500 for the first time in the club's nine years, Washington will be back home Thursday night for a 7:30 contest against Toronto.
"This is the first time I've played against them since they traded me away (July 23, 1981)," Jensen said. "I felt I wanted to do good here. I don't think they gave me a chance.
"I only got in the one game (a 7-3 loss at Montreal) and I was happy to go to Washington and get a chance to play. With the team in front of me right now, we're going a long way."
Jensen gave up a weird goal to Reg Leach in the first period, but the Capitals netted five in a row before Dwight Foster was able to get another past Jensen with only 7:16 left.
Leach scored after Jensen went behind his net to play a puck dumped in by Detroit's Jim Schoenfeld. The puck bounced crazily off the boards, carooming out front to Leach, who drove it home before Jensen could recover.
"It kind of nicked my glove, but it went in," Jensen said. "There's a red mark on the side of the boards and there's a little ridge that sticks out there. The puck must have hit it."
Doug Jarvis, embellishing his 600th straight NHL game, got that back less than four minutes later on a setup from behind the net by Denis Maruk. The assist made Maruk the first player to score 400 points as a Capital.
For the next 26 minutes, Jensen and Detroit's Corrado Micalef provided a clinic in goaltending. Micalef made a great glove save on Bobby Gould and Jensen did the same to Foster.
Then, in a somewhat ironic situation, Jensen blocked Mark Lofthouse's deflection of Reed Larson's shot. Lofthouse, the man Washington traded for Jensen, raised his stick in premature celebration.
"I thought it went between his legs," said Lofthouse, recalled Tuesday from Detroit's Adirondack farm club. "I guess instead of celebrating I should have been driving for the net. That was my only chance all night. They didn't give us many."
The Washington power play succeeded in its fourth try against the NHL's poorest penalty-killing unit, ending the tie late in the second period.
Bobby Carpenter's shot from the left point struck defenseman Willie Huber's ankle and deflected behind Micalef.
The Capitals scored three goals on only five shots in the third period. Moments after the expiration of a double minor against teammate Randy Holt, Gould slid the puck under Micalef's right arm as the goalie dropped awkwardly to the ice. It was Gould's 14th goal, seventh in the last 11 games.
Jensen came up big to maintain the 3-1 lead, batting down a shot by Danny Gare on a short-handed breakaway and covering up before Gare could react.
"Maybe that save on Gare was the key point in the hockey game," said Washington Coach Brian Murray. "That's the type of thing that keeps you competitive."
With Detroit noticeably deflated, Alan Haworth and Mike Gartner scored 26 seconds apart to ensure victory.
"We played another disciplined game defensively and I hope we can do more of that at home," Murray said. "Getting that winning streak rolling helped the team immensely and now we believe we have a heck of a chance to beat any team in the league."