This Date in Caps History - March 8
On March 8, 1980 the Capitals put a 9-5 hurting on the Hartford Whalers in front of 10,521 fans at the Capital Centre.
Washington's Bob Sirois started the scoring parade with a shorthanded goal at 8:02 of the first period with a single assist from Ryan Walter. Just over two minutes later, Sirois struck again, this time while Washington was enjoying a two-man advantage. Mike Gartner and Robert Picard assisted on the goal that gave the Caps a 2-0 lead. At 11:22 of the first, Bengt Gustafsson tallied for the Caps while Washington had a 4-on-3 manpower advantage. Picard and Rolf Edberg assisted on the Gustafsson strike. Hartford got on the board at 12:21 when Bernie Johnston scored while both teams were playing with four skaters. Washington bombarded Hartford goaltender John Garrett with 17 shots in the first period while the Whalers countered with just six against the Capitals' Wayne Stephenson.
The Capitals opened up a 4-1 lead when Picard netted the team's third power play goal of the evening at 9:35 of the middle frame. Mark Lofthouse and Dennis Maruk assisted on Picard's goal. Antero Lehtonen scored for the Capitals at 10:07 of the second to up the Washington lead to 5-1. Maruk and Sirois collected the assists on Lehtonen's goal. At 11:30, Alan Hangsleben scored against his former Whaler teammates with help from Gustafsson and Picard. Hartford's Blaine Stoughton closed out the scoring for the second period when he tallied at 14:58 to make it 6-2, Capitals. Hartford outshot Washington by a 16-6 margin in the middle period.
Mike Rogers scored for the Whalers at 2:51 of the third to pull Hartford to within three at 6-3 but the Capitals weren't done. Gartner scored a pair of goals in succession, the first at 5:22 and the second at 9:18. Paul Mulvey assisted on the first and Walter on the second. Rick Ley scored for the Whalers at 10:17 to make it 8-4 in favor of Washington. The legendary Gordie Howe - playing in his final game ever at the Capital Centre - picked up the primary assist on Ley's goal. Gustafsson scored Washington's fourth power play goal of the night at 11:52 with assists from Edberg and Picard. After Gustafsson's goal, Caps head coach Gary Green lifted netminder Stephenson and replaced him with backup Rollie Boutin. At 15:17, Rogers completed the night's scoring with his second of the game. The Whalers outshot Washington 12-10 in the third and edged the Caps 34-33 in shots on goal for the game. Stephenson gave up four goals on 29 shots; Boutin was touched for one goal on five shots.
With five points on the night, Picard broke his own club record for points in a game by a defenseman. Washington's total of four power play goals in a game tied the club mark and the nine-goal outburst also tied a franchise mark and set a new home ice record for goals in a game by the Caps.
Sirois was named the game's first star. He had two goals and an assist on the evening. With a goal and four assists, Picard was the number two star. Gartner earned the third star with two goals and a helper.