The Washington Capitals concluded the poorest preseason in their 12-year history tonight by dropping a 6-0 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers.
The one-sided contest, with Brian Propp scoring his first of two goals at the 14-second mark, left the Capitals an NHL exhibition record of 2-5-1. The previous low was 2-4-4 in 1981.
A joker surmised the Capitals had left their hearts in San Francisco, where they split games against Minnesota Wednesday and Thursday. Actually, they left the heart of the team in Washington tonight.
Six players were called up from Binghamton as Bob Carpenter, Mike Gartner, Bengt Gustafsson, Rod Langway, Scott Stevens and Doug Jarvis got the night off.
"Because of the game in Hartford (a makeup last Monday), our schedule has been very hectic and I thought it would have been foolhardy to use Langway, Stevens and Gartner," said General Manager David Poile. "The six players we brought up are depth players in our organization and this gives them an opportunity to enhance their chances later in the season."
The only one who did much for his future was defenseman Yves Beaudoin, lavishly praised afterward by Coach Bryan Murray. The other five merely confirmed that Poile had made the correct cuts.
"Beaudoin played strong, he went to the corners and he made a couple of heads-up plays," Murray said. "He never shied from a physical situation."
The only others to whom Murray referred positively were right wing Lou Franceschetti, who twice leveled Flyer Ed Hospodar with hard checks, left wing Yvon Corriveau and center Dave Christian. But most of his negatives were reserved for referee Ron Fournier.
Murray has been unhappy with Fournier since the 4-4 tie with the Flyers at Capital Centre Sept. 20 in which he let Philadelphia Coach Mike Keenan get away with illegal substitutions. The subject was revived tonight, but Murray's principal anger was directed toward a pair of first-period penalty calls.
With the Flyers ahead 1-0, Fournier simultaneously penalized Capitals-for-a-night Bryan Erickson (cross-checking) and Grant Jennings (roughing) for fouls on Rich Sutter, whose elbowing and high-sticking violations were ignored.
His side two men up, Doug Crossman boosted the lead to 2-0.
Then Fournier signaled a penalty against Flyer Dave Brown, who promptly started a fight with Corriveau. When they were pulled apart, Fournier assessed majors to both, with Brown given one extra minor. Murray protested to the extent that he called time and used the 30 seconds to berate the referee.
"Hey, Ron, I thought you were going to call it even tonight!" Murray screamed so loudly that it could be deciphered by most among the 6,663 in Hersheypark Arena.
Pat Riggin, due to start Washington's regular-season opener against the Rangers in New York Thursday, yielded six goals in 34 shots. Flyer Pelle Lindbergh stopped 24.