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The Wayback Machine: The Double Hat Trick Nov 21, 1981

by Jeffrey Weinstein / Washington Capitals
On November 21, 1981, few could have predicted what the Capitals had in store for the Flyers on a Saturday night at the Capital Centre.

The Capitals brought a record of 3-14-1 into the contest, only two weeks removed from a coaching change that put Bryan Murray behind the bench. Though the Caps had modest success in four games with Murray, compiling a 2-1-1 record, the Broad Street Bullies presented a new challenge for a young hockey team.

Led by Bobby Clarke, Brian Propp, Bill Barber, and Ken Linseman, the Flyers were a formidable opponent.
History was overwhelmingly on Philadelphia’s side. The Caps had never won a home game against the Flyers, and had only two wins in 28 contests against Philadelphia.

Those facts prompted a bold prediction by Murray before the game.

“One record will fall tomorrow.” Caps head coach Bryan Murray told reporters. “If we go pretty well, and we should, (it) will be a heck of a hockey game.”

It was indeed, a heck of a hockey game.

The Capitals set five team records in a 10-4 rout of the Flyers, two of which still stand today. Two Caps players, Tim Tookey and Dennis Maruk each scored three goals for the only double hat trick in team history.

Maruk would go on to have the most prolific offensive season in team history, setting a team record with 136 points (60 goals, 76 assists).

For Tookey, it was his first and only NHL hat trick. He would score 22 NHL goals (18 in two seasons with the Capitals) over an 18-year professional career.

The two teams combined for 104 penalty minutes, with the Flyers having the majority (68). The Caps converted on five of their 11 power play opportunities. Clarke led the Philadelphia parade to the penalty box with 18 penalty minutes in the contest.

“My midget team could have scored that many goals with all those power plays,” Clarke said after the game.

Three records set that evening were eventually broken: most goals in a game (now twelve), most power-play goals (now 7) and most assists (18 against the Flyers, now 20). The two records from that game that still stand are both held by defenseman Greg Theberge who recorded five points (two goals, three assists) in the contest. Theberge holds the team record for most points in a single game by a defenseman, and a rookie. 

The Capitals beat Philadelphia three times during the 1981-82 season responding to Murray’s leadership with improved play (25-28-13 in  66 games). The following year the Capitals made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
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