The Capital Centre scoreboard malfunctioned last night, so the names of the competing hockey teams could not be displayed.
For many of the 14,634 fans, it must have been hard to figure out which was the 45-20-5 team with a chance to move into first place and which was the 21-42-7 outfit a point removed from last.
In case some folks still can't believe what happened, the Los Angeles Kings, with one victory in their previous 10 games, really did embarrass the Washington Capitals, who had won 10 of 11, by a score of 5-2.
John Paul Kelly, a checking winger with four goals in 52 games, scored twice and ex-Capital Bryan Erickson enjoyed a three-point night as the Kings ended Washington's club-record nine-game winning streak on home ice.
It was no contest after Dave Taylor, Kelly and Erickson scored in the first 11 minutes to give Los Angeles a 3-0 lead. Although the Kings had a thin 28-25 edge in shots, the figures for good chances were a one-sided 15-6.
"I think we took it for granted," said Washington Coach Bryan Murray. "L.A. was fighting for survival and it was more important, obviously, to them tonight. We had no intensity. We worked so hard last night a 5-3 triumph in Pittsburgh to get two points and make this game important, then we let it go."
The loss kept the Capitals one point behind first-place Philadelphia in the Patrick Division and now each team has nine games to play. Meanwhile, the Kings, who own 14 road victories and only eight at home, widened their gap over last-place Vancouver to three points in the Smythe Division.
"It wasn't anything I told them," said Los Angeles Coach Pat Quinn. "I think the guys had the realization that we'd better be sharp tonight or we'd be blown out of the pond. We were embarrassed last night a 7-6 loss in Toronto and we didn't want another."
Taylor started the rout after Rod Langway was penalized for cross checking. The NHL's worst power play came through when Marcel Dionne backhanded the puck and it rolled up goalie Pete Peeters' stick and most of his body before dropping, to be poked in for Taylor's 300th career goal.
It was a milestone for Dionne, too. His 927th assist made him No. 2 all-time behind Gordie Howe and his 1,590th point tied him with Phil Esposito for second place in back of Howe.
It became 2-0 when ex-Capital Glen Currie, playing only his fourth game after recovering from a disc problem, made a perfect pass from the left-wing boards to Kelly for a tap-in.
"I've always enjoyed playing here and beating these guys gives me double enjoyment," said Currie, who was traded in the offseason for Daryl Evans. "I'd like to make them feel they made a mistake even if they don't feel it."
Erickson's 20th goal made it 3-0, as he flipped a backhander between Peeters' legs at the finish of a two-on-one with Kelly.
"It's always nice to score and it was a little nicer here," said Erickson, dealt away by Washington on Halloween for Bruce Shoebottom. "I was a little nervous, because the fans were always good to me here and I wanted to play well tonight."
Washington's problems became compounded when a brawl in front of the Washington net resulted in four penalties to the Capitals, including a high stick by Peeters, and only two to the Kings.
That gave Los Angeles a two-man advantage for two minutes and during that stretch Peeters slashed Taylor for an additional, delayed minor. Washington killed off the entire four-minute disadvantage and figured to get a psychological lift coming out for the second period.
A penalty to the Kings' Grant Ledyard after 98 seconds provided a further opportunity. However, even with goalie Roland Melanson down and out of the play, Washington could not put a shot on goal. The clock had wound down to three figures, 9:59 remaining, before Bob Carpenter tested Melanson.
Dave Christian eventually netted his 36th goal on a power play, but Gary Galley and Kelly, on a feed from Erickson, made it 5-1 before the period ended. Craig Laughlin's 24th goal provided minimal consolation in the final 20 minutes.
What little reason the fans had to cheer was furnished by Scott Stevens, who assisted on both Washington goals, fired six shots at Melanson and knocked one in that was disallowed because referee Ron Hoggarth had blown his whistle, thinking Melanson was covering the puck.
The loudest cheers occurred when Stevens delivered resounding checks to Currie and Taylor, and also when he engaged Los Angeles heavyweight Jay Wells in a third-period fight.
There were a lot of boos, too. Although the Capitals were blown away in Detroit (7-0), Toronto (5-2) and Pittsburgh (8-1), this was the first time the home folks had seen them forget to show up.
"How can you be negative after the way we've been playing?" Murray asked. "There are some nights when things don't go right at the start and it snowballs on you. You hate to see it and you can't accept it, but it happens." Islanders 6, Rangers 2
Brent Sutter's two first-period goals started the Islanders on their way to the rout before the biggest crowd in Nassau Coliseum history.
A crowd of 16,265 saw the game in which goalie Billy Smith recorded his sixth straight victory against the Rangers. Smith, who has not lost to the Rangers since Jan. 8, 1984, made 19 saves.
Sutter opened the scoring at 4:24 of the first period when he picked up the rebound of Bob Bourne's shot and sent a backhander under the right pad of goalie John Vanbiesbrouck. He made it 2-0 on a power play at 8:49, sending a 45-foot shot past Vanbiesbrouck on a partial breakaway.
Mike Ridley's one-handed backhander 22 seconds later sneaked through Smith's legs, but it took the Islanders only 30 more seconds to make it 3-1. Potvin's 50-foot shot through a screen found the upper corner of the net.
The Islanders, third in the Patrick Division, have won four of their last five games and hold a nine-point lead over the fourth-place Rangers. Whalers 6, Red Wings 4
In Detroit, John Anderson had the third three-goal game of his career and Stewart Gavin scored twice in a span of 76 seconds for Hartford.
The victory moved Hartford within two points of idle Buffalo in the chase for the final playoff berth in the Adams Division. Boston is another two points ahead.
Anderson ran his season goal total to 27 with one in the first period and two in the third. His last goal was an empty-netter, with 1:04 left, and gave Hartford a 6-3 lead. Detroit's Petr Klima scored 15 seconds later to account for the final margin. Oilers 6, Jets 2
Jari Kurri scored his 60th goal of the season and Wayne Gretzky got his 50th to lead Edmonton, playing at home, to the victory.
The victory was the Oilers' 10th in their last 11 games and gave them a 6-2 record against the Jets this season.
Mark Messier flipped a Glenn Anderson pass into an open net with only four seconds left in the first period to give the Oilers a 2-1 lead. Anderson backhanded in a rebound of a Paul Coffey shot for a power-play goal to bring the lead to 3-1 only 1:51 into the second period.
Dave Hunter extended the advantage to 4-1 at 12:28 of the second period.