Skating in fog dense enough to ground a 747, the Capitals had a territorial edge on the Minnesota North Stars tonight, but tied, 4-4, in the first five-minute overtime game for the Washington franchise.
Three goals by Alan Haworth, including the tying one early in the third period, highlighted Washington's performance against the hard-skating North Stars, who were playing their first exhibition game this year.
"Possibly, one game for us (Thursday's 3-1 win over Toronto) was a little bit of a differnce for us," said Coach Bryan Murray. "We got some balance tonight, and some pretty good forechecking."
The Capitals also had the edge in shots on goal, 43-21. The North Stars had taken a quick first-period lead on goals by Tom McCarthy and Jordy Douglas, but Bobby Carpenter, on a line with Haworth and Craig Laughlin, kept the Capitals close when he pried the puck loose from the pads of Gilles Meloche, who thought he'd stopped it, at 16:20 of the opening period.
Haworth's first goal, on the power play, beat Meloche at 3:48 of the middle period, some two minutes after Craig Hartsburg had beaten Pat Riggin. After Dino Ciccarelli upped Minnesota's edge to 4-2, Haworth trimmed it to 4-3, assisted by Laughlin at 16:04 of the middle period.
Haworth's third goal at 1:26 of the third period marked the end of all scoring, in spite of end-to-end rushing by both clubs. The fog, hanging far enough above the ice to mask play, caused numerous play stoppages, especially in the third and overtime periods, when officials repeatedly asked each club to circle its own end of the rink to clear the fog away.
"Every time you'd get a little momentum, you'd have to stop," Murray said. "It took away the flow of the game."
North Stars Coach Bill Mahoney conceded that Washington's advantage came from its one-day-previous exhibition game, but added, "Their real difference was in defense."
As if the fog and the scrappy North Stars weren't enough for the Capitals, one spectator, possibly bored with the frequent fog breaks, took off his clothes during the third period. He was led away before overtime began.