They can do it on the road. Now all the Washington Capitals have to do is carry that same kind of play into pressure situations at Capital Centre.
Down, 3-1, in the third period at St. Louis Saturday night, the Capitals, who were playing what Coach Bryan Murray called conservative hockey, did not overreact to the situation by forcing plays into mistakes.
"When we come in here (to an opponent's building) we're concerned about making sure of the defensive part of the game," said Mike Gartner. "Against the Blues, we played a fairly tight-checking game, and we knew we were getting lots of shots on net, creating chances."
Gartner said the Capitals did not panic at the 2-1 or 3-1 deficits because they had played well enough earlier to know they could come back.
Craig Laughlin, whose power play goal midway through the final period began the turnabout, agreed. "I don't think there was alarm," he said. Added Rod Langway, "There is always a sense of alarm (in that situation.) You can't let them get the fourth goal. You can't give that up."
Laughlin backed down a bit, saying, "If this was a home game, we would have pressed too hard, they would have gotten the goal. Here we knew one goal would get us back in it. We took the play away (from them). We could have scored in the last 20 seconds and won it."
Washington's power play, a puzzle that doesn't fit together at home, was working full strength against the Blues, scoring one goal in its three chances, and putting good shots at Mike Liut.
"We went over a few things and it seems to be better," said Gartner. Lately the unit had difficulty moving the puck into the opponent's zone, a problem not evident Saturday. "We were able to get to it and get into the zone better."
The mystery of the missing power play at home is a subject Murray and his players have dealt with daily in practice and frequently in conversation.
"Maybe at home we think all we have to do is throw our sticks on the ice and we'll get the two points," Gartner said. "It doesn't work that way. Teams coming into Washington this year are really well prepared for us; they know it's not a easy game anymore, and that means it's not going to be easy for us either. So if we can play this way at home . . ."
Overall, Murray was satisfied with his club's effort Saturday, giving Washington a 1-1-1 record in this season's meetings with the Blues.
"We're using four lines, which helps; our goaltending has been consistent, and we handled the situation very well," he said.
Murray praised his fourth line--Glen Currie, Bob Gould and Gaetan Duchesne--as he has after every recent game. "They're good for a goal every game, every time," he said, looking as if he was slightly surprised but enormously pleased.
"And the other team is not prepared for that line. They play a short passing game and can do damage when the other team isn't expecting it."