Seen and heard last night at MCI Center:
NO RECORD — The Caps did not set a record for fewest penalties in a game by both teams but came close. Washington and Buffalo combined for three minor infractions, two by the visitors, one more than the team record.
The record of two committed by two teams was last set by the Caps and Montreal on Feb. 17, 1979. In Florida this season, the Caps and Panthers played a game in which there were three penalties with the home team scoring on its only power-play opportunity to tie the game 2-2.
Last night three penalties were called with neither team scoring. However, four minutes into the third period there was a delayed call against Washington, Buffalo rushed an extra attacker onto the ice and scored before the call was executed.
WELCOME BACK — Brendan Witt was back in the lineup and it was immediately apparent. Having the team’s version of a street bully on the ice does something to a club, such as making everyone stand a little taller, finish checks with a more determination, take less guff.
Witt missed seven games with a shoulder injury sustained Dec. 8 against Colorado. He has been missed because he is one of two Caps (Sergei Gonchar the other) with plentiful NHL experience.
Witt’s return presents a problem because the team now has an assortment of bangers. In fact, Stephen Peat, an enforcer who doubles as a right wing, has yet to play a game under coach Glen Hanlon and after eight games, that is a pretty clear message.
Others who tend to be more physical in their play and might be fighting for limited roster spots include defenseman Dwayne Zinger and wings Trent Whitfield and Colin Forbes. Forbes played his first game of the season; he was recalled Dec. 21.
ROSTER FULL — For the first time in weeks, the Caps’ roster was full, meaning three healthy scratches. Not dressing were forwards Brian Willsie and Peat and defenseman Zinger. Out with injuries were defenseman John Gruden (concussion), goalie Sebastien Charpentier (hip) and center Michael Nylander (broken leg). Washington has lost 123 man-games to injury.
— Dave Fay