Forty-seven times prior to tonight's game against the Philadelphia Flyers in the Spectrum, Pat Riggin had started and finished in goal for the Washington Capitals. Riggin, who already has won more games in a season than any previous Washington goalie (27), failed to finish tonight as he and his teammates were blitzed, 9-6.
"I didn't make any big saves," he honestly evaluated his performance, which lasted two minutes into the third period. "I didn't help the club."
Coach Bryan Murray, who pulled him in favor of Al Jensen, said, "I think he was struggling a bit."
"You have to forget about being pulled. Its been a long season. You have to start over tomorrow," said Riggin, who won't know until Friday who Murray will start in goal in the rematch -- and who won't be charged with tonight's loss. The game-winning goal was credited to Ilkka Sinisalo at 5:15 of the third period to put the Flyers ahead, 7-4. Sinisalo's goal at 2:01 had knocked Riggin out of the game at 6-4.
The bus ride home tonight would give Riggin plenty of time to remember the six goals he allowed. The Flyers' first score came 34 seconds into the game; the Capitals' goalie had been called for high-sticking Peter Zezel after just 10 seconds of play.
"He hit my stick (as they went for the puck behind the net) and I wanted to retaliate," Riggin said. "Unfortunately, I got the stick up a little too high. I don't get too many of those calls against me all year."
Despite the bad start -- down 2-0 in the first minute -- the Capitals rallied into a 4-2 lead midway through the second period before Rod Langway went off for fighting. The Flyers then regained the lead, 5-4.
"No question he (Lindsay Carson) was sent in for that (to get Langway in a fight). They'd been trying to get him off all night," said Murray. "Sometimes you have to stand up to them."
But both Murray and Langway felt it was the team turnovers that were crucial in the Flyers' comeback rather than the defenseman's departure.
"Turnovers and some good plays by the Flyers made the difference," said Langway. "But some adjustments and different defenses can change that tomorrow. We don't have very many back-to-back bad games and they have to come to our place."
Murray feels his team will need to be a lot more disciplined and physical in the rematch.
"I never thought we'd get six goals in this place and when you do you should win. I never thought they would score eight goals (the final goal was an open net-ter). We're going to have to play a more controlled style.
"We'll have to be a whole lot better or we'll get smoked again. I think we got caught flatfooted more times in this game than we have in 10 previous and we're going to have to stop being an awfully nice bunch of guys out there (in allowing Tim Kerr to roam freely around the goal).