On April 8, 1979, the Capitals drubbed the Pittsburgh Penguins by a 5-2 count to close out the fifth season of their existence.
Mark Lofthouse started the scoring for Washington at 6:08 of the first period with his 13th goal of the season. Dennis Hextall’s sixth of the season came at 8:23 and made it 2-0, Washington. The Caps poured a dozen shots at Pittsburgh cagetender Denis Herron while the Pens managed only three on Washington’s Gary Inness.
Greg Malone halved the Washington lead when he scored his 35th of the season for Pittsburgh at 6:35 of the second. Exactly three minutes later, Washington’s Guy Charron scored his 28th of the campaign while the teams were skating with four players a side. Pittsburgh’s Jacques Cossette scored what would prove to be the last of his eight NHL goals at 13:51 to pull the Penguins within a goal at 3-2. Ryan Walter scored his 27th of the season – a power play strike – for the Caps at 17:21, setting a new franchise record for goals by a rookie in the process. The Caps held a 9-6 advantage in shots on goal for the second period.
At 14:24 of the third, Walter scored his second power play goal of the game and the lone goal of the final period. Pittsburgh outshot Washington 10-5 in the third but the Caps led 26-19 on the night.
Walter was the game’s number one star. Defenseman Leif Svensson, completing his first season in the NHL, was the number two star. Svensson assisted on both of Walter’s goals. Rugged blueliner Pierre Bouchard was the third star for his stellar play in his own end. It was Bouchard’s first game with the Capitals. Claimed from Montreal in the waiver draft the previous October, Bouchard elected to retire rather than report to the Capitals. He later had a change of heart and suited up in time for the final game of the season. Bouchard went on to play two more seasons with Washington.
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