For the first time in 13 games, the Philadelphia Flyers were beaten last night. For only the second time in 38 games, they were limited to one goal.
The man who accomplished both feats before, a month ago at the Spectrum, was Washington goalie Al Jensen, and he did it again with a 42-save effort that ruined the Flyers' bid for a National Hockey League record of nine straight road victories.
Scott Stevens, Craig Laughlin, Bobby Carpenter and Bengt Gustafsson supplied the goals that carried the Capitals to a 4-1 victory, only their third over Philadelphia in 21 meetings at Capital Centre.
"This was even sweeter than that (3-1) game in Philly, because we wanted to win so bad at home," Jensen said. "We were really hungry, because they beat our streak and we wanted to finish off theirs.
"There were some tough times, like early in the third period, but most of the game our defense made them shoot from long range, which was good."
"We emphasized this game as much as any this year," said Washington Coach Bryan Murray. "Our defense had a lot of help coming back, because our wingers were very responsible, which is something we hadn't had often in this building. It was a much-needed win for us."
Philadelphia's 43 shots marked the first time an opponent had hit 40 against Washington this season. The Capitals, who go back into action tonight in Chicago, were able to get off only 28 at Flyer goalie Bunny Larocque.
Jensen stopped all 12 attempts during the second period, while Laughlin scored on a pass from Doug Jarvis and Carpenter netted a 55-footer on a power play for a 3-1 Washington lead.
On their previous visit, when they ended the Capitals' 14-game unbeaten streak, the Flyers came out strong at the start of the third period and scored three times to break a 3-3 tie. This time, it was Washington that struck quickly--quicker, in fact, than at any other time in the club's nine-year history.
Gustafsson won the faceoff from Bobby Clarke and shoved the puck to Mike Gartner. Gustafsson then broke for the net, took Gartner's pass and slipped the puck behind Larocque. The score came five seconds after the third period started and only one man in the NHL's 66-year history, Claude Provost of Montreal in 1957, scored faster at the start of a period; his time was four seconds.
"Bryan came to Gus and me before we went out and told us it was four on four and to try to take it into their end zone," Gartner said.
"We've worked it before. I went wide, Gus gave me the puck and went for the net, and I threw it to him," he said.
"That goal by Gus was really critical," Murray said. "We were conscious of how they'd blown us out early in the third period before. If they'd gotten one on the power play tonight, it could really have hurt us."
Even with a three-goal deficit, the Flyers were flying. They outshot Washington, 10-0, over the next seven minutes, and in addition Lindsay Carson and Ilkka Sinisalo hit the posts on each side of Jensen.
Nothing went in and the crowd of 10,981 hooted while the Flyers' frustrations showed down the stretch, with Clarke hacking at Dennis Maruk and Bill Barber drawing a gross misconduct for postgame remarks to referee Denis Morel.
Much of the Flyers' anger pertained to a rule interpretation by Morel late in the second period that preceded the goals by Carpenter and Gustafsson.
Philadelphia's Glen Cochrane was in the penalty box, the result of a high sticking foul when he took a run at Bobby Gould and missed.
After Larocque blocked a shot by Ken Houston, Flyer defenseman Bob Hoffmeyer and Houston swung their sticks at each other and scuffled briefly.
Morel gave Houston two minors, Hoffmeyer one. Normally, coincidental minors are not served when one team is a man down, but in this case Morel decreed otherwise.
That put the Flyers two men short and Washington one, a situation the Capitals exploited for a 3-1 lead as Carpenter got his 15th goal from long range 35 seconds before the intermission.
It was four on four when Gustafsson scored, so by the time Houston served his extra two minutes, the game was beyond the Flyers' reach.
"It doesn't make sense that by getting an extra penalty, they get an advantage like that," Clarke said.
Murray, who was up on the bench screaming at Morel on more than one occasion, was unable to find much sympathy for the Flyers' position.
"Clarke is a competitor and he was trying to get some favors from the ref," Murray said.
"I made a few suggestions to Morel myself. Our whole team was well prepared for this one and I was cranked up, too. We could have played at 2 o'clock. We were ready."