On December 10, 1988, the Washington Capitals faced a daunting task when it traveled north of the border to face the Montreal Canadiens.
Montreal was the class of the Adams Division, led by a balanced offense, and the superb play of a 24-year old goaltender named Patrick Roy. They entered the contest unbeaten in seven games.
The Caps had one win in their previous five games, and sat in second place in the Patrick Division with a record of 13-12-3.
Veteran goaltender Pete Peeters, a Vezina Trophy winner with the Boston Bruins in 1983, was between the pipes for the Caps when they took the ice at the Montreal Forum.
Peeters, tasked with keeping the Montreal offense in check, performed admirably from the opening whistle.
He helped the Capitals kill off two consecutive penalties late in the first period, and continued his solid play into the second.
The Canadiens appeared to take a 1-0 lead when former Caps No. 1 draft pick Rick Green, a defensive defenseman, skated out in front from behind the net and beat Peeters. But the goal was waived off because Montreal forward Mike Keane was standing in the crease.
“That Keane guy was coming in to pick me and he had my stick twisted across my body,” Peeters said. “I had no chance. It was a good call by (the referee) and it took a lot of guts, because they don’t always make them.”
Peeters made a series of impressive saves on a Montreal flurry in the third period with an initial stop on a Claude Lemieux shot from the slot.
“There were three Canadiens in the crease and the puck was bouncing like a jelly bean,” Peeters said. There were four sticks swinging at it, mine and theirs. I couldn’t believe it.”
Meanwhile, the Capitals had few quality opportunities against Roy and the Montreal defense, who were equally responsible for shutting down Caps offense. Caps forward Mike Gartner, making his first start after missing three weeks with a ligament tear in his knee, mustered one shot against Roy, who made 18 saves in regulation to keep the Caps off the board.
With the game tied 0-0 after regulation, the Capitals had a golden opportunity when Lemieux took a slashing penalty 44 seconds into overtime. But the Caps were held without a shot, and the game ended in a scoreless tie, the first in franchise history.
“I’m glad I could play in this one, to be a little part of history,” Gartner said.
Peeters made 30 saves in the contest, and the scoreless tie was the first of four shutouts on the season.
“It would have been nice to squeak out with a 1-0 win,” Peeters said. “I’ve never played in a scoreless tie before. Whenever it’s gone into overtime, it’s always ended up 1-0 one way or the other.”
In his final season with the Caps, the 31-year old goaltender helped the team win its first Patrick Division title with solid play in net throughout the season, finishing the year with a 20-7-3 record.