It was a special night for the Calgary Flames at Capital Centre. With all seven goals coming in power-play situations, the Flames prevailed, 4-3, last night and completed a sweep of their three-game season series against the Washington Capitals.
Three Calgary goals came on deflections, two off defender Rod Langway. The four scores in nine chances were a remarkable turnabout for the Flames' power play, only seven for 84 since Nov. 27.
After wiping out an early 2-0 deficit, the Capitals again fell behind by two goals at 4-2 midway through the third period. Then Jorgen Pettersson scored with 2:27 remaining and the crowd of 10,382 suddenly sounded like a full house.
Washington pulled goaltender Al Jensen for a sixth skater with 1:46 remaining and had several chances to tie it, with Mike Gartner coming close twice. The Capitals were pressing with 24 seconds on the clock when the Flames' Jim Peplinski dislodged the net, apparently to relieve the pressure.
The Capitals angrily demanded a penalty shot, which is mandatory for deliberately lifting the net in the last two minutes, but referee Andy Van Hellemond didn't call it. He had given Washington a penalty shot for a similar act by the New York Islanders during last year's playoffs.
"I was watching for the puck and all of a sudden the net clunked," Van Hellemond said. "I don't know whether it was the goalie, the defenseman or Peplinski who did it. If I'm sure, I'll call a penalty shot like I did on Long Island last year, but I can't guess.
"I was too close to it, but I had to be close in case the puck is near the line in that situation. The only reason you know the net's off when it happens like that is you hear the clunk."
Peplinski admitted knocking the net loose, but claimed he had been pushed into it by Stevens. Replays showed no such push.
"The puck was on the far side, we had control and the goalie was lying down, so we had a good chance to score," Stevens said. "Their guy came in and put an arm underneath and lifted it."
It was a frustrating night for Stevens because he watched three of the Flames' goals from the penalty box. He was given a major penalty for elbowing Neil Sheehy as the second period ended tied at 2-2 and was off when Steve Konroyd's slap shot, caroming off Langway's hip, sent the Flames in front to stay at 2:39 of the third period.
The Capitals appreciated the five-minute penalty to Stevens even less than the call concerning the net.
"I've never gotten an elbow penalty in my life," Stevens said. "The guy was coming around the net with his head down and I used my shoulder on him. The ref saw some blood and gave me five."
"I just wish there was some consistency among the officials in calling things like restraining fouls and major penalties," said Washington Coach Bryan Murray. "Last year, we were involved in six occasions where blood was drawn and a major was called in only two of them."
"I can only call what I see," Van Hellemond said. "I can't do anything about something that happened somewhere else last week or last year."
The Capitals got a break a few minutes later when Calgary's Joel Otto attacked Greg Adams after Adams whacked him with his stick. Otto received a major, Adams a minor. But during the two-minute four-on-four segment, Stevens pulled down Paul Reinhart and was penalized for roughing.
With Calgary skating four against three, Dan Quinn deflected Al MacInnis' shot past Jensen. Then, for further Capital frustration, Alan Haworth tripped Quinn to nullify the remaining sentence against Otto. Later, Konroyd was chased for holding and Pettersson made it close.
In all, Van Hellemond called 23 penalties, 12 against the Flames.
With so much taking place at uneven strength, the Capitals missed center Bengt Gustafsson even more than usual. Gustafsson, idled by a pulled leg muscle, is a key member of the power-play and penalty-killing units. Rookie Marc D'Amour started in goal for Calgary and shut out the Capitals for 30 minutes while his teammates were building a 2-0 lead on goals by Hakan Loob and Reinhart, the latter off Langway's stick. But D'Amour developed cramps and finally was forced to leave, after Peter Andersson and Haworth had beaten him 76 seconds apart to create a 2-2 tie.
It was the 20th goal for Haworth, whose high total in four previous NHL seasons is 24.
Reggie Lemelin, who had been scheduled for a week of inactivity, replaced D'Amour at 14:30 of the second period and blocked 13 of 14 shots the rest of the way to gain credit for his third triumph over the Capitals this season.
Jensen was the loser despite some remarkable saves in a game total of 25. He foiled Loob on two clean breakaways, Steve Bozek on another.