For the first time in 22 visits to the Forum, the Washington Capitals earned a point tonight. Nevertheless, there was no celebration of the 3-3 tie with the Montreal Canadiens, just a begrudged rationalization that one point is better than the habitual zero.
Unassisted goals by Guy Carbonneau and Gil Delorme in the last 6 minutes 6 seconds brought Montreal back from a 3-1 deficit and turned an undercurrent of boos into a mad celebration among most of the 16,835 witnesses.
After Delorme scored from the right point with 1:04 remaining, he leaped on top of Mario Tremblay, whose distraction of goalie Al Jensen had created the opening for Delorme's shot.
Jensen, meanwhile, stormed toward referee Bob Myers in anger and Coach Bryan Murray indicated his belief that the site of the game was the key factor in Myers' failure to whistle Tremblay for interference.
"The puck went back to the point and I got set for the shot," Jensen said. "Then he came in and knocked me over. He took the feet from under me and I couldn't get back."
"Tremblay went through the crease and deliberately eliminated Al," Murray said. "I've got to believe that if the game was in Washington, Myers makes the call."
This was the occasion of the first visit to the Forum by former Canadiens Rod Langway, Brian Engblom, Doug Jarvis and Craig Laughlin. The result was unusual emotion--on both sides--for a regular-season NHL game.
"The whole team wanted to play well for the four guys and we all wanted the guys to play well," said Jensen, who stopped 35 shots and was selected the game's No. 1 star. "We'll take a point on the road."
"I wanted to beat Washington and beat them bad," said Montreal defenseman Rick Green, who went the other way with Ryan Walter in that big four-for-two deal. "We had all read enough about those guys coming back here. But Washington played well and we did, too, and we'll just have to take that one point."
Dennis Maruk gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead with goals in each of the first two periods. He had a chance for a pure hat trick when Bengt Gustafsson set him up late in the second period, but Montreal goalie Richard Sevigny stood his ice and foiled the breakaway.
Disgruntled Montreal fans joined a small but vocal Washington contingent in cheering the Capitals' return to the ice for the third period. But it was the Canadiens who responded to the stimulus.
Jensen made some remarkable saves and both Engblom and Scott Stevens blocked shots before Mats Naslund's rebound put Montreal on the scoreboard at 3:42 of the third period. Jarvis was in the penalty box at the time, for holding Guy Lafleur.
"After we took that stupid penalty--and I mean stupid to call such a marginal thing at that stage--they got a goal and we went on the defensive," Langway said. "If we'd kept on playing the way we'd been playing, we would have won."
At that, Alan Haworth beat Sevigny to a bouncing puck in front of the net and made it 3-1 with 8:18 remaining. It marked the sixth straight game in which Haworth had scored a goal, but it did not slow down the surging Canadiens.
Carbonneau pulled Montreal within one goal when his drive from the left wing circle struck Engblom in the ankle and deflected past Jensen.
Murray called a timeout with 1:37 left and instructed his faceoff men to delay things at every opportunity so Engblom and Langway could skate the rest of the way. They did, but Delorme and Tremblay insured that their efforts would not earn maximum rewards.
The Capitals have been beaten only once in their last 14 road games and Murray said, "I hate to be satisfied with one point and it's unfortunate that you get ahead and don't win it. But we've been playing pretty disciplined on the road and it would be pretty silly to get upset about this."