Anders Eldebrink, playing only his second game for the Nordiques, scored from the slot with 13:55 remaining tonight and Quebec escaped with a 4-4 tie against the Washington Capitals.
Eldebrink produced the only score of a third period in which Washington came close twice down the stretch as it pressed for a victory.
First, Dennis Maruk was stopped by goalie Dan Bouchard after the puck bounced crazily off the boards onto his stick. Then Bobby Gould, aiming for a hat trick as well as a winner, faked out defenders Louis Sleigher and Normand Rochefort on a remarkable individual effort before shooting the puck over the net.
"He (Bouchard) went down when I got in front of the net and I wanted to lift it, but I was too far on my right side," Gould said. "It went straight up."
The tie sent the Capitals into the All-Star break with 67 points, tied for second place in the Patrick Division with the New York Islanders. Washington has lost only one of its last 15 road games and is unbeaten in eight games overall. Until this season, the Capitals' longest undefeated streak was seven games, but of course they ran up that 14-gamer in November and December.
The Capitals outplayed Quebec over the last two periods after overcoming a dreadful start that included a successful penalty shot by Quebec's Michel Goulet. The team had reached its hotel at 4 a.m. after beating New Jersey at Capital Centre Saturday night and boarding a charter flight that required a fuel stop at Albany. Before the game, the players stood for 10 minutes while the crowd of 15,232 was introduced to Bonhomme Carnaval and the seven Duchesses who preside over the Quebec Winter Carnival.
"We played tired early in the game and some guys who had been playing well looked worn down," said Coach Bryan Murray. "After all that intro and Bonhomme stuff, Peter Stastny loses his balance and we get a penalty. What a way to start."
It got worse. Brian Engblom had difficulty with a bouncing puck and Goulet controlled it as he sailed past the Washington defenseman. Engblom reacted quickly enough to hook Goulet down from behind, his stick over Goulet's shoulder.
Referee Don Koharski immediately signaled a penalty shot. Goalie Pat Riggin, who preserved a tie in Edmonton by stopping Wayne Gretzky in a similar situation, was beaten this time, going down at the instant Goulet fired the puck over his right shoulder. It was the third time in 13 tries a Washington opponent had converted a penalty shot.
"I played with Riggin in Birmingham and I knew he'd give me the high shot," said Goulet, who never had attempted a penalty shot before. "He always keeps his glove low."
"Breakaways are a 50-50 deal and now I'm even," Riggin said. "Goulet is in Gretzky's class. I've faced the best."
Murray was furious and complained so bitterly and at such length that he received a bench minor penalty.
"Engblom was in contact all the time and as often as I've complained about it I've never seen a penalty shot called unless there's a dive from behind or a guy throws his stick," Murray said. "No other referee would have called that. There's just no consistency among the referees."
Washington's power play, good three straight times in the victory over New Jersey, proved inept in three first-period chances, which included a 14-second five-on-three overlap. Riggin had to make a sensational stick save on Goulet's short-handed breakaway.
Although outshot, 16-5, in the first period, the Capitals were kept close by the excellent play of Riggin, who never has lost to Quebec. Then the Capitals scored four goals on nine shots in the second.
Gould, on a setup by Duchesne, and Bobby Carpenter provided a 2-1 lead, Carpenter netting his 20th goal.
Four minor penalties put the teams at three a side and the Nordiques scored two goals in 14 seconds. Goulet collected his 40th and Dale Hunter his 12th, each breaking free and taking extra time to shoot high on Riggin's glove side.
Gould tied it on a long shot that trickled through Bouchard, then Mike Gartner made it 4-3 with his 29th goal, at 17:00, after Ted Bulley had pried the puck away from Real Cloutier. Rod Langway assisted on Gould's second goal and earned his 150th NHL point.
Eldebrink, obtained from Vancouver on Friday for goalie John Garrett, got the last goal on a pass out of the right-wing corner by Alain Cote.