For the second straight night, the Washington Capitals saw a lead disappear in a flurry of five straight opposition goals. Tonight, the New York Rangers wiped out a 3-0 deficit with five second-period scores and went on to post their third victory of the NHL season over Washington, 6-5.
The Capitals, beaten 7-4 by Chicago Saturday, lost two straight games for the first time since the opening week of the season.
Washington was breezing, 3-0, early in the second period when Capitals captain Rod Langway and Rangers alternate captain Bob Brooke tangled in the Washington end. Every player on the ice became involved in the fracas, and when it was over, three Capitals -- Langway, Kevin Hatcher and Greg Adams -- were ordered to serve minor penalties by referee Bob Myers, who also worked Washington's game Saturday.
Since Brooke received only two minutes and no other Ranger was penalized, that left the Capitals two men short for a potential two minutes, their first two-man shortage of the season after 10 such advantages. It took Brian MacLellan only 35 seconds to put New York on the scoreboard.
Before the Capitals were back at full strength, Tomas Sandstrom closed the gap to 3-2.
Washington tried to regroup, but after Alan Haworth hit a post and Jorgen Pettersson was inches wide on a Lou Franceschetti setup, the Rangers scored on three straight shots to go ahead to stay.
Mike Ridley scored the tying goal after Washington goalie Pete Peeters had blocked an attempted jam by MacLellan and apparently had the puck frozen in his pads. While most of the players on the ice awaited Myers' whistle, Ridley poked the puck into the net.
"I had it frozen on my right, but Myers was on my left and in no position to see it frozen," Peeters said. "They kept jabbing and jabbing and finally it went in."
Thirty-five seconds later, Washington's Mike Gartner was sent off for holding. The Rangers' power play struck again, Brooke converting a Ron Greschner pass for a 4-3 Rangers lead.
"I never touched him with either hand," Gartner said. "I took a long stride, and my skate caught his skate and he went down. To call that, with all that was going on out there, I can only think Myers was trying to make a point."
When Rob Whistle beat Peeters with a 35-footer at 15:57 to make it 5-3, the Rangers over 15 1/2 minutes had outshot Washington, 14-2.
Scott Stevens closed the gap to 5-4 early in the third period. However, New York's Don Maloney scored from a scramble in front, and the goal was enough to withstand a late score by Pettersson and a frantic Washington offensive after Peeters was lifted for a sixth skater with 1:23 remaining.
Washington Coach Bryan Murray was angry enough with the second-period turnabout to wait for Myers in the dressing-room corridor at the intermission.
"I just said, 'Bob, what are you trying to prove?' " Murray said. "He said, 'I'm not trying to prove anything.' We were working hard, taking the body, going to the net. We were definitely in control until those penalties.
"It wasn't only the power-play chances they got and took advantage of, but we got to wondering what would happen next, and it took away a lot of our aggressiveness. I don't see how you can get the same guy back to back like this."
The Rangers were in full agreement that the double power play turned the game around. Brooke said, "They had had the momentum, and scoring two power-play goals gave it to us. It changed the whole game around.
"I hit Rod Langway in the corner, and he hit me back. Then I skated in front of the net and he hooked me. The ref saw it and after the whistle, since there were no penalties on me, I just stuck around. A couple of their guys chose to take extra shots at me."
Langway said, "He tried to take my feet out from under me and I stuck him and he stuck me. He took a dive and the ref saw me, so I went to the box. I didn't see what happened after that."
Hatcher, who had some derogatory words for Myers during the TelScreen postgame interview Saturday, said tonight, "After Rod hit him (Brooke), we had a few words and we ran each other. I cross-checked him and we both got two minutes."