On November 23, 1988, the Washington Capitals defeated the New York Islanders by a 7-6 score before a sellout crowd of 18,130 at the Capital Centre in Landover.
Washington's Larry Murphy started the scoring barrage with a power play goal at 4:09 of the first period. The goal was Murphy's second of the season. Dale Hunter and Geoff Courtnall were credited with the assists. The Islanders' Pat LaFontaine evened things up with his 12th of the year. LaFontaine's power play goal came at 10:53. New York's Mikko Makela gave the Isles the lead with his fifth of the season at 15:24. The Islanders poured 14 shots at Washington goaltender Clint Malarchuk in the first period while the Caps countered with a dozen against New York's Kelly Hrudey.
Courtnall's 12th goal of the season came at 2:42 of the second, tying the game at 2-2. Hunter and Scott Stevens picked up helpers. Just eight seconds later, Kevin Hatcher's fourth of the season - with an assist from Bengt Gustafsson - gave the Caps a 3-2 lead. Just 35 seconds after that, Hatcher struck again to put the Caps up by a pair. Hatcher's fifth of the season and second of the camewith assists from Gustafsson and Dave Christian. The second Hatcher goal was Washington's third goal in a span of 43 seconds and it drove Hrudey to the New York bench. He was replaced by Billy Smith. Smith received his baptism when Christian scored his 13th of the season on a power play from Gustafsson and Stevens at 12:05. Alan Kerr scored for New York at 15:21 to cut the Washington lead to 5-3. Just 50 seconds later, Courtnall's second of the game restored Washington's three-goal bulge. Steve Leach and Grant Ledyard assisted on Courtnall's goal. Brent Sutter netted his fifth of the season at 17:30 to make it 6-4, Washington. Mike Ridley's 10th of the season - with assists from Christian and Gustafsson - came at 18:17. The Ridley goal gave the Caps a three-goal lead again, but only until 19:21 when LaFontaine's second of the night made it 7-5. The two teams traded goals back and forth five times over a four-minute span beginning with Kerr's goal. The Caps outshot the Isles in the second period, 12-9.
Kerr brought the Isles to within one with his second of the game at 13:20 of the third period. But New york could not get the equalizer and the Caps skated off with the win. The Isles outshot the Caps 9-4 in the third and 32-28 on the evening.
With two goals and an assist, Courtnall was named the game's number one star. Gustafsson's four assists gained him the second star designation. With two goals, LaFontaine picked up the third star. Stalwart Washington blueliner Rod Langway had a difficult night at the office. He was on the ice for four of New York's five even strength goals on the night and went home with a minus-four next to his name on the score sheet.
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