Just as the Washington Capitals did not break out champagne after their late January sweep of the New York Islanders, they did not cry in their beer following Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
It was a stunning defeat, inflicted by Brian Propp's goal with only two seconds left in regulation time. Four goals by Tim Kerr gave the Capitals something to think about for the future, too.
Nevertheless, Coach Bryan Murray and his players turned their attention to the upcoming five-game road trip, which begins Wednesday in Winnipeg, rather than dwelling on what was only their second defeat in the last 13 games.
"You don't lose many tougher than that; to lose it like that was very disappointing," Murray said. "But the guys have a day or two to get out of here and regroup. We'll be fine. We know we're going to lose some hockey games. It's just unfortunate the way it happened."
Murray said he was not particularly disturbed by the fact that the Flyers would be playing six straight home games, beginning with last night's contest against the New York Rangers, while the Capitals were criss-crossing the West.
"To be a good club, we have to win on the road, anyway," Murray said. "And if you look at Philly's schedule, you'll see that they have to go on the road for five games when we come back. These things usually even up."
Before the Flyers played last night, they trailed the Capitals by nine points, but Washington had played three more games, so it was obvious the Capitals missed a chance to deal Philadelphia a mortal blow Saturday.
"It's a tough one to lose when you look up at the clock and see two seconds left," said winger Bob Gould. "It's tough to accept. But we've prided ourselves that if we lose one, we don't lose two. They came out and played a heck of a game. They took it to us and they won. Now we have to forget it."
The Capitals have lost two games in a row only once this season, falling to Edmonton at home, 8-5, in early November after dropping a 4-3 road decision to the New York Rangers.
"It's one of those intangible things; you try to put it aside but you don't know how much sticks deep down," said center Doug Jarvis, who played his 776th straight game to tie Craig Ramsay for No. 2 in NHL history behind Garry Unger's 914.
"Hopefully, we can bounce right back. For the most part, we've bounced back after disappointing games this season."
Following the contest in Winnipeg, the Capitals visit Calgary, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Edmonton. Their next home game is Feb. 26, against the Canucks.
"It's an 80-game schedule, a very long schedule, and we have some tough games coming up on the road," said winger Mike Gartner, who left yesterday for Calgary and Tuesday's NHL All-Star Game, along with center Bob Carpenter and defensemen Rod Langway and Scott Stevens.
"If we can have a decent swing on the road trip and come back in the position we are now, we'll be happy. We've got a good March schedule, once we get through this phase."
The Capitals play 10 of 14 March games at Capital Centre. They have two contests left with the Flyers, March 7 in Philadelphia and March 8 at the Centre.
Winger Bengt Gustafsson, who missed Saturday's game with a slight pull in the left hamstring, said he was uncertain when he could resume skating. Gustafsson sat out six weeks earlier this season with a severe pull in the right hamstring.
"It's a problem, but nothing like the last time," Gustafsson said.
Meanwhile, winger Greg Adams banged up his knee in Saturday's game and will be examined today to determine the extent of the injury.