The Washington Capitals listened to a talk by nutritionist Dale Alexander today. The Los Angeles Kings heard some harsh words from Coach Pat Quinn. Tonight's result should provide some food for thought.
The Kings hit hard, scored often and received excellent goaltending from rookie Bob Janecyk to thrash the Capitals, 5-2. It was their first victory over Washington in seven games and their first success against the Capitals here since Oct. 29, 1981.
"We blew a two-goal lead against Boston Thursday and we've blown too many like that," Quinn said. "I'm less disappointed with the character of the team than with the mental approach. Sometimes they just aren't thinking out there. I tried to talk to them about that mental state and it seems to have gotten some response."
The loss reduced the Capitals' Patrick Division lead to five points over Philadelphia, which defeated Edmonton, 5-4, and has three games in hand.
"They got the big stops, early at least, and we didn't," Washington Coach Bryan Murray said. "When we did outplay them badly in the second and third periods, Janecyk came up big and a lot of shots were blocked by their defensemen. Maybe they're coaching that."
The Kings took a 3-0 lead in a wild first period in which they outshot Washington, 13-11.
Terry Ruskowski opened the scoring at 4:22 as the beneficiary of sharp passes by Jim Fox and Bernie Nicholls. Fox took the puck behind the Washington goal line and passed to Nicholls in the left wing circle. His quick feed found Ruskowski open in front for his 13th goal.
Before that score could be announced, the Kings were pressing again. Goalie Pat Riggin came out to cut the angle on Fox, but the puck leaked through and Scott Stevens pulled it under him. Despite loud complaints by the Kings, referee Terry Gregson declined to call a penalty.
He did send Washington's Gaetan Duchesne off at 6:11 for interfering with Anders Hakansson. It took the Los Angeles power play only seven seconds to double the score.
Nicholls launched a shot from just inside the blueline with the puck on edge. It bounced crazily into the crease, where Riggin blocked it but could not cover it. Marcel Dionne hacked at it before Brian MacLellan lifted it into the net for his 23rd goal. It was the eighth extra-man goal yielded by Washington in the last 20 shortages.
A Washington power play, with Craig Redmond off for holding, proved inept. Mike McEwen put the only shot on goalie Bob Janecyk and, after he caught the puck while on his knees, Stevens tried to push him into the net.
Dave Taylor's 32nd goal boosted the Kings' advantage to 3-0 at the 14-minute mark. MacLellan hammered Craig Laughlin against the boards, knocking the puck loose. McEwen barely gained possession before Taylor picked his pocket and skated in from the left wing circle. Riggin seemed to have the near post guarded, but the puck got between his legs.
Dionne was given his second assist of the game on the play, for reasons best known to the official scorer. That gave him 853 for his career, moving him past Bob Clarke into fourth place on the all-time NHL list.
The penalties started piling up after Janecyk and Greg Adams banged each other and were sent off for roughing at 16:12. Washington's Mike Gartner tripped Mark Hardy to give the Kings a four-on-three edge and Riggin was fortunate to stop Taylor off Dionne's setup.
Washington's Dave Christian then intercepted Hardy's pass and went in on a breakaway. Hardy hooked him down as he shot, with Janecyk making the save. Hakansson tripped Bob Carpenter and helped fill the penalty box. When Gartner returned, Washington had a two-man advantage for 1:22, stretching into the second period, but failed to take advantage.
The Capitals did put the puck in the net, to no avail. Janecyk blocked Larry Murphy's drive and the puck popped high in the air. Carpenter batted it down and, before he could get his stick on it, he was knocked into the net by Brian Engblom. The puck went in with him, after striking his skate, but Gregson ruled he had kicked it in.
"I saw the puck in the air and I tried to put it down," Carpenter said. "Then he knocked me in with the puck. That happened one other time this year and they gave me the goal. That was a big, big goal if it goes in, 3-1 going into the second period."
When Hardy came out of the penalty box early in the second period, he became part of a three-on-one break by the Kings. Riggin, who went down early, managed to stretch out his right arm to block a shot by Redmond. Gartner tried to shove the rebound under the goalie, but Hardy raced in and lifted it into the net.
The goal, at the 34-second mark, was the seventh short-handed score allowed by the Capitals, who have lost six of the games in which they were victimized.
Washington dominated play the rest of the period, outshooting the Kings by 16-6 over the 20 minutes, but they managed to reduce their deficit only to 4-1.
Alan Haworth netted the goal, his 17th, at 13:42, four seconds after the expiration of a holding penalty on the Kings' Garry Galley. Haworth shot from the left-wing circle, got the rebound at the goal line near the left post and hit the post with the puck. It spun in the air behind Janecyk and he knocked it across the line while trying to sweep it out.
Washington took four shots at Janecyk on a power play with John Paul Kelly off for boarding Bryan Erickson.
With eight seconds left in the period, Nicholls and Doug Jarvis became tangled and four Capitals rushed to Jarvis' rescue. The only punches were exchanged by Hardy and Bob Gould.
The Kings added another power-play goal early in the third period, after Gartner hooked Taylor to prevent a breakaway. Riggin came far out to block a shot by Galley and when the rebound went to Fox, he hit the empty net at 2:00.
Christian scored his sixth goal in the last six games, off Haworth's setup, at 13:27 to make it 5-2. It came on a power play, Janecyk having been penalized for punching Adams while the Washington forward was intruding in the crease.