Capitals winger Alan Haworth began a memorable run of goal scoring 24 years ago this week, on October 25, 1985. Haworth, in his fourth season with the Caps, had a slow start to the year, scoreless in the Caps’ first seven games.
An injury to Bengt Gustafson forced Caps head coach Bryan Murray to shuffle the forwards, and Haworth was moved to center before the Capitals traveled to Winnipeg for an Oct. 25 contest.
In that game, Haworth notched two goals and two assists, including the game-tying goal late in the third period to give the Caps a point in a 7-7 tie.
Two nights later, Haworth struck again with a first period goal against Chicago. When the Capitals returned home, he scored again on Oct. 29 against St. Louis, and yet again against the Islanders on Nov. 1.
Five more games brought six more goals from Haworth and with at least a goal in each contest, Haworth’s streak stretched to a franchise record nine games. In most games during the streak, Haworth scored his first goal of the game early; nine of his 11 goals during the streak were scored in the first or second period.
With the Caps recording a 6-2-1 record during Haworth’s run, fans hoped the team’s success as well as Haworth’s goal-scoring, would continue when the team took on Vancouver on Nov. 15 at the Capital Centre.
By the third period, the Caps had built a 5-0 lead, but Haworth, aside from a first-period assist, had been kept off the score sheet. With the game in hand, Murray instructed Haworth to look for opportunities to extend the streak.
“He [Murray] told me to get up to the red line and wait for the puck for a breakaway,” Haworth told reporters. “I appreciated that.”
Robert Fachet of The Washington Post wrote that when Haworth was sent out on the ice for a late-game penalty kill, “the crowd of 12,248 roared every time he touched the puck.”
Yet while Caps teammates tried to set up Haworth for the score, the Canucks scored three consecutive goals to cut the lead to 5-3.
“Maybe it was wrong, but he deserved the chance” Murray told reporters. “We were ready to attack rather than to defend.”
Ultimately, Haworth’s streak came to an end at nine games, falling short of the NHL record of 16 games, set by Harry (Punch) Broadbent of the Ottawa Senators in 1922.
“It was nice while it lasted,” Haworth said after the game. “I didn’t start the season expecting that [streak] to happen.”
Haworth recorded his best season in the NHL that year, finishing with 34 goals and 39 assists. He set the franchise single-season record for plus-minus (+36), helping the Caps to the club’s first-ever 50-win season.