The 1991-92 season was a banner year for the Washington Capitals, who finished second in the Patrick Division with a record of 45-27-8 (98 points). The team earned its 10th straight playoff berth, but fell in seven games to Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Caps had little reason to believe they would struggle entering the 1992-93 season, but they opened the first two months of the season with an 8-12-2 record, including a 3-8-1 mark in games at the Capital Centre through Nov. 20. Early season injuries were part of the cause for the slow start, which was nonetheless troubling for a Caps team with high expectations.
Then, on Nov. 25 against Boston, with a jolt from an Al Iafrate slapshot, the Caps began a march to the record books, and ultimately, the playoffs.
With the Caps leading the Bruins 2-1 early in the second period, Iafrate, the first player in the league to record a shot over 100 miles per hour, took aim at the top corner behind Boston goaltender Andy Moog.
The shot did not go into the top corner, but was hit with so much force that Moog was knocked to the ground, allowing Kelly Miller to scoop up the loose puck and score for a 3-1 Caps lead.
Miller’s goal would prove to be the game-winner, and Iafrate had a goal and three assists as the Caps went on to a 6-2 win.
“He had a huge game,” Caps head coach Terry Murray said of Iafrate’s effort, “He carried pucks, created a lot of things with speed. The one shot that he got almost put the puck right through Andy Moog.”
The win was the first of a 13-game home unbeaten streak (9-0-4) that would span two months. The Caps would see their overall record climb over .500, as the team emerged as the legitimate playoff contender that most expected at the beginning of the season.
On Jan. 31, the Capitals tied the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-2, marking the last game of the home unbeaten streak. The Capitals had an overall record of 25-21-4 and were in second place in the Patrick Division.
“We’ve played a whole lot better at home in the last couple months,” Murray said. “But that’s what you’re supposed to do.”
The streak ended at the Capital Centre on Feb. 2, 1993 with a 6-4 loss to Calgary. With the game tied 4-4 late in the third period, the Flames’ Robert Reichel scored on a breakaway to give Calgary the game-winner at 18:40.
“We played well enough to keep the streak going,” Murray said. “The effort and the opportunities, everything was there, but the opportunity we were waiting for happened for Calgary.”