After beating the Penguins, 6-2, in Pittsburgh Wednesday night, the Washington Capitals have a chance for a repeat performance at 8 o'clock tonight at Capital Centre.
A Washington victory would extend Pittsburgh's winless steak to 11, diminishing the playoff hopes of the Penguins (12-30-7). However, Capitals Coach Bryan Murray is not ready to count out Pittsburgh, in spite of its losing streak.
"That's when they're ripe (for a victory)," he said. "It's when a team can be most dangerous." Murray said he had expected a different type of game from the Penguins Wednesday, including more intensity and more contact early on.
Instead, Washington contained Pittsburgh easily in the first period, scoring five straight goals and causing the Penguins to send in goalie Michael Dion for Denis Herron. The rest of the night, the clubs showed little interest in anything except shoving matches.
"When we got into a scrambling situation, it seemed we were more interested in talking or shoving than in playing hockey," Murray said. "It led to a few fights. I guess it was the kind of game where people try to even past scores. Certainly, if I were a paying customer, I might walk out."
Showing little of the swift-skating, hustling play they exhibited in the first period, the Capitals gave up two power-play goals to the Penguins. Still, Murray was satisfied with Pat Riggin's performance in goal.
"He's been playing well in practice, and I wanted to get him back into it," he said. "Pat hasn't played in a couple weeks, but he's going to win some hockey games for us." It was Riggin's first start in seven games.
Brian Engblom, who left the ice in the second period, complaining of dizziness, will be back in the lineup tonight. He was examined by doctors yesterday and was given the goahead to play.
Milan Novy, who did not dress for the game in Pittsburgh, is not likely to do so tonight, either. Watching the Wednesday game from the press box, he said he did not know why he was sitting out, but hoped to be playing again Saturday in Montreal.
Murray said he simply wanted to give Novy a rest.
"He says he's not tired, but I know in Czechoslovakia they're used to playing 45 games, then having some time off. I think by staying off skates, resting a bit, he'll be able to come back stronger in the second half."