On December 9, 1978, the Washington Capitals defeated the Vancouver Canucks by a 7-5 score to earn their first-ever win on Canadian ice. Prior to the win over Vancouver, the Caps were 0-29-2 on the road against Canadian opposition.
Vancouver’s Dennis Ververgaert scored at the 1:38 mark of the first to give the Canucks an early lead. But Bob Sirois, Tom Rowe and Mark Lofthouse scored the nest three goals to give the Caps a 3-1 advantage. The Canucks pulled to within one, but Lofthouse scored midway through the second and completed the hat trick—just the third road hat trick in team history—at 8:18 of the third. Lofthouse’s third goal gave the Caps a healthy 5-2 lead.
Veteran center Pit Martin—in his final NHL season—scored for Vancouver just 18 seconds after Lofthouse’s third goal. And a minute later, the Canucks made it 5-4, Washington on Don Lever’s goal. Guy Charron then scored for the Caps, but Hilliard Graves’ goal with just 1:58 remaining made it a 6-5 game. When Dennis Maruk scored into an empty net with 34 seconds left, the Caps were finally able to breathe easy.
Besides his empty net tally, Maruk had two assists. Ryan Walter had three assists for Washington.