A lot of struggling players made important contributions Friday night as the Washington Capitals battled the Winnipeg Jets to a 7-7 tie in Winnipeg. Several cited increased ice time as a factor in their sudden emergence.
Alan Haworth, shifted to center between Greg Adams and Craig Laughlin, produced his first two goals of the season. The second goal, with 4:33 remaining in regulation, followed one by Dwight Schofield as the Capitals, who three times enjoyed two-goal leads in the early going, erased a 7-5 deficit in the last seven minutes.
Haworth, Schofield, Dave Christian and Bob Gould all scored their first goals of the season.
"I got a lot more ice time this week and I think it helped make me sharper," Haworth said today, as the Capitals iced down some bruises before facing the Chicago Black Hawks Sunday. "During the exhibition games (when he led Washington in scoring), I got a lot of ice time, but during the season I don't kill penalties or play on the power play, so I'm right in the middle.
"I could stay on the bench for four or five minutes and then when I went on the ice, I probably tried to do too much. You always get concerned when you don't score, but I think I played well enough defensively and maybe that's been too much on my mind. I played a lot in Calgary (a 4-2 loss) and missed some goals, but in Winnipeg they were going in the net."
Coach Bryan Murray said, "Howie played a terrific game in Winnipeg. Maybe he likes playing center that much. He's in a spot to get the puck more and he can use his speed . . . "
Despite the seven-goal yield, the Capitals did not play a dreadful defensive game in the absence of team captain Rod Langway, who will be out for three weeks with a strained ligament in his right knee.
"Maybe I don't give some guys that much ice time or credit," Murray said. "A lot of guys who haven't played that much came through for us. They made a few mistakes, but overall I thought they played pretty well.
"They worked hard, checked hard and were dedicated to the task. The whole team showed great courage and determination coming from behind like that."
Murray was not satisfied in one area. He yanked goalie Pat Riggin 12 minutes into the second period, after Riggin had given up four goals on 11 shots. Although Riggin stopped a couple of first-period breakaways, he seemed to react slowly on two goals.
"Pat's all upset I took him out, it seems," Murray said. "But he seemed to fight the puck a little bit. We've got to get more consistent goaltending."
Picking up much of the slack in Langway's absence was Scott Stevens, who had his best game of the season. Like Haworth, Stevens said he thrives on playing time.
"The more ice time, the better you play," Stevens said. "You can get into the game better. It's a nice feeling to do a little extra and help the team. We all knew we'd have to play harder with Roddy out of there."
Bengt Gustafsson, Mike Gartner and Bob Carpenter were banged up in Winnipeg and there is some question whether Gustafsson will be able to play here.
In case he can't, the Capitals will use Mark Taylor, a center they called up from Binghamton on an emergency basis.
Gartner, held scoreless in Winnipeg, is expected to be in the lineup Sunday despite a bad back and a sore ankle. Carpenter will play with a splint protecting the broken finger he suffered Friday.