This Date in Caps History - February 18
On February 18, 1976, the Capitals absorbed an 11-4 pounding at the hands of the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden.
Washington's Blair Stewart put the Caps on the board first when he beat Rangers netminder John Davidson at the 59-second mark of the first period. It was the last lead the Caps would enjoy on the evening. Wayne Dillon tied it for New York at 6:47 with Steve Vickers and Rod Gilbert assisting. Ron Greschner's power play goal-also from Vickers and Gilbert-gave the Blueshirts a 2-1 lead. With just over three minutes remaining in the first, Gerry Meehan scored a power play goal for the Caps to knot the score. Yvon Labre beat Davidson at the buzzer, but the goal was disallowed as the puck crossed the line after time had expired.
The Rangers started rolling in the second. Assisted by Vickers and Nick Beverley, Rod Gilbert gave New York a 3-2 lead with his goal at 3:19. Six minutes later, Gilbert returned the favor, setting up Vickers to make it 4-2. One minute after Vickers' goal, Billy Fairbairn scored for New York and the rout was on. Vickers potted his second of the game to make it 6-2 before Stewart's second brought the Capitals within three. With New York holding a 5-on-3 advantage, Phil Esposito scored. Vickers picked up his fourth assist of the night on the play.
The Rangers opened the third with a 7-3 lead and opened the scoring in the period when Pat Hickey tallied at 1:13. Jack Lynch scored on a Washington power play to make it 8-4, and the Caps were done for the night. Rick Middleton scored at 12:02 and Vickers completed the hat trick-and notched his seventh point of the night-exactly three minutes later. Hickey's second of the game closed out the scoring and gave the Rangers a lopsided victory.
Vickers' seven-point performance was the greatest individual output registered in a single game against the Caps at the time. Wayne Gretzky had a seven-assist night against Washington in 1980 to equal Vickers' feat, and the Stastny brothers-Anton and Peter-each notched eight points against Washington in a 1981 game.
The Rangers joined the NHL in 1926-27, and never before or since Vickers' performance against the Caps has any Ranger managed a seven-point game.