The Winnipeg Jets rolled another seven at the Washington Capitals tonight, and this time it was enough to win.
The Capitals, unbeaten in their last seven games overall and last seven on the road, nursed a 3-2 lead through the first 12 minutes of the third period. Then the Jets scored five times in the last eight minutes for a 7-4 NHL victory.
That ended a four-game winless run for the struggling Jets, who had won only two of their previous 15 games and had been forced to settle for a 7-7 tie with Washington here Oct. 25, when the Capitals scored twice in the last seven minutes.
All those sevens are most unnatural for the Capitals, who entered this game with the best goals-against average in the NHL, 3.00.
Compounding the Capitals' problems were injuries to centers Alan Haworth and Bob Carpenter. Haworth, seemingly the more seriously hurt, banged his right knee against the boards in the right-wing corner late in the first period and did not return.
"I shot the puck and I was off balance when somebody hit me," Haworth said. "I connected with the boards and got a good bruise on the kneecap. The muscle above the knee hurts, too, and the whole leg is so stiff I can't straighten it."
Carpenter caught a puck in the right ankle late in the first period, sat out much of the second and returned for limited duty in the third.
"I got hit right on the boot and it cut the skin," Carpenter said. "It's really swollen."
What made all the Capitals feel bad was the third-period collapse, which was totally unexpected by a team that thrives on protecting third-period leads.
Actually, they had done a good job this time, limiting Winnipeg to only one shot in the first nine minutes of the third period.
After the Jets came close a couple of times, they pulled even at 12:02 on Paul MacLean's second goal of the game.
MacLean, returning from a four-game absence with an abdominal strain, took Dave Ellett's headman pass in full stride at the Washington blueline and raced past defenseman Scott Stevens to beat goalie Pete Peeters with a backhander.
Nineteen seconds later, the Jets took a 4-3 lead as Dale Hawerchuk crossed the Capitals' blueline and lined the puck past Peeters' waving glove.
When Kevin Hatcher was penalized for elbowing Hawerchuk, the Capitals were in deep trouble.
Suddenly, however, things brightened for Washington when Larry Murphy took a pass from Dave Christian and, despite having the Jets' Laurie Boschman hanging all over him, was able to shoot the puck past Brian Hayward at 12:59 to tie it up.
It was a short-lived tie. With Hatcher still in the penalty box, Carpenter broke his stick and headed for the bench. That gave the Jets a temporary two-man edge and they took advantage, Ray Neufeld converting Brian Mullen's pass from behind the net at 12:59 for his 100th NHL goal.
"Once we scored the fourth goal and were still killing the penalty and they get a goal right away, we were in a bad way," said Washington Coach Bryan Murray. "We had people doing things we don't want to do after that, trying to catch up, and I'm afraid it turned into a bit of a rout."
Peeters made an excellent save on Scott Arniel, but the puck went behind the net and Boschman quickly fed it back to Arniel for his second goal and a 6-4 lead at 15:38.
Randy Carlyle completed the scoring into an empty net with 20 seconds remaining.
The game started as a shootout, with Washington's Gaetan Duchesne and Arniel scoring in the first 95 seconds. But there were only three goals in the 50 minutes that followed.
MacLean's power-play goal provided the Jets with a 2-1 lead after the first period, but Craig Laughlin tied it for Washington early in the second and Bengt Gustafsson sent the Capitals in front 2:12 before the second intermission.