Alan Haworth recorded his second NHL hat trick tonight and the Washington Capitals ended their three-game winless streak with a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
After Haworth broke a 2-2 tie midway through the third period, rookies Andre Hidi and Jim McGeough provided the padding for the Canucks' seventh straight defeat.
Haworth offset goals by Vancouver's Stan Smyl in each of the first two periods. Smyl connected on the Canucks' first shot of the first and second, and in the third came close to a unique hat trick.
On what would have been Vancouver's first shot of that period, he skated out from behind the Washington net and caromed a shot off the far post.
If Smyl failed by inches, Haworth was not about to abandon his quest for a hat trick. Nor were the Capitals prepared to brood because a quick whistle stopped play an instant before Bob Carpenter shoved the puck into the net from its resting place alongside the pad of goalie Richard Brodeur.
On the ensuing faceoff, at Brodeur's left, Dave Christian outdrew Vancouver's Thomas Gradin. The puck went to the side boards, where Haworth controlled it, skated a few feet and unloaded from beyond the faceoff circle. He beat Brodeur high on the glove side for what proved to be the game winner.
"I didn't see that one go in; there were too many people in front," Haworth said. "Usually off the faceoff if the puck comes right to you, you think shot. But this one went to the boards and I had to move about 15 feet.
"A guy was coming out for me, but Andre Hidi took care of him and I was able to shoot it."
Early in the period, Hidi was perfectly positioned in the slot for Haworth's rebound, but did not settle the puck and wound up batting it to a Canuck near center ice.
When he got a second chance, he did not miss.
Scott Stevens bounced a puck off the side boards and Christian was able to pick it up for a breakaway. Brodeur reached out with his stick to make a sensational save, but Hidi netted the rebound.
"The chances I've been missing, I made sure I was there in case he stopped Davy," said Hidi, playing his first game of the road trip because of Bengt Gustafsson's hamstring injury. "The first one, I was turning sideways and went to bring it on my forehand without settling it. It must have looked like a perfect pass to the other team."
Some perfect passes by Mike Gartner and Carpenter, who shunned possible shots on a two-on-one break, enabled the trailing McGeough to match Hidi as a seasonal two-goal scorer with 4 1/2 minutes left.
The assists enabled Gartner and Carpenter to continue their point-scoring streaks, Gartner through seven games and Carpenter through six.
Smyl and Haworth exchanged long-range goals in a slow-paced first period that saw the Capitals get only one routine shot in the last 12 1/2 minutes.
Washington woke up in the second period, however, and outshot the Canucks by 21-7.
Nevertheless, Haworth's goal during a power-play scramble in front produced the Capitals' only score, offsetting Smyl's two-on-one conversion of Al MacAdam's setup.
Haworth and Craig Laughlin wound up in the net, buried under two Canucks, and the cage came loose in the process, but referee Dave Newell allowed the goal.
"I took about 13 swipes at it and Locker took 13 swipes, then the puck was right there on the blueline and I couldn't miss it," Haworth said. "I was worried just for a second that it might not count because the net was loose, though."
Earlier in the period, Haworth went to shoot following a beautiful pass from Christian and found that the cage had come off.
McGeough and Gartner hit posts and Canuck defenseman J.J. Daigneault deflected Bob Gould's shot with Brodeur out of position.
"With all the shooting chances we had -- either we hit posts or missed the net or he goes down and we can't get it over him -- you begin to wonder," said Coach Bryan Murray. "Those are the games you worry about getting away."
This one didn't, the first time in six games the Capitals posted a victory after entering the third period in a deadlock.
The Capitals suffered yet another injury in the game: defenseman Timo Blomqvist departed after twisting his left ankle against the boards. Although it was not serious, it was the same injury that gave him so much persistent trouble a year ago.
And there was bad news even before the game: defenseman Dave Shand has a dislocated left shoulder.
He was hurt during practice Saturday, when he collided with Laughlin. The shoulder popped back into place and Shand returned to the ice.
It was not until he woke up this morning and experienced considerable soreness that he realized the extent of the injury. He is expected to be idle about 10 days.