On January 21, 1986 the Washington Capitals defeated the Minnesota North Stars 7-5 before a crowd of 11,100 at the Capital Centre in Landover.
Bengt Gustafsson put Washington on the board first with his 14th goal of the season at 3:47 of the first period. Dave Christian and Darren Veitch collected the assists. Just 25 seconds later Craig Laughlin netted his 14th of the season on a Washington power play to give the Caps a 2-0 lead. Christian and Bobby Carpenter assisted on Laughlin's goal. Christian made it 3-0 with his 25th goal of the season at 6:32 of the first. Jorgen Petterson and Gustafsson assisted on Christian's tally. A mere 17 seconds after Christian's goal, Kevin Hatcher netted his fifth of the year with help from Mike Gartner. The goal was Washington's fourth in a span of just 4:02. Both teams had 11 shots on goal in the first but the Caps took a 4-0 lead into the locker room.
Tom McCarthy got the North Stars on the board when he beat Washington goaltender Al Jensen at the 25-second mark of the second period. The Caps' Alan Haworth scored his 24th of the campaign at 17:32 of the middle frame to restore Washington's four-goal advantage. Haworth's Plumber Line cohorts Greg Adams and Laughlin picked up the helpers. With only 32 seconds left in the second, Minnesota's Brian Lawton scored to draw the Stars within three at 5-2. The North Stars outshot Washington by a 13-8 margin in the middle period.
Minnesota's Brian Bellows wasted little time in making it 5-3; he scored a power play goal at 1:20 of the third period. Just over a minute and a half later, Bobby Gould extended the Caps' lead to 6-3 with his eighth goal of the season. Gaetan Duchesne and Grant Martin picked up the assists. McCarthy pulled the Stars to within two of the lead with his second goal of the night at 3:58. The Stars' Scott Bjugstad scored at 11:57 of the final frame to draw the Stars to within one with more than eight minutes remaining. The North Stars pulled goaltender Don Beaupre in the game's final minute but Carpenter ended the drama when he bagged an empty-netter - his 14th of the season - with nine seconds left in the game. Carpenter became the seventh different Capital to light the lamp on the night; Scott Stevens and Gould earned the assists. The Caps outshot the Stars 16-12 in the third. The Stars nipped the Caps 36-35 in that department on the evening.
With a goal and three points, Christian was the game's first star. McCarthy's two goals were sufficient to get him the second star of the night. Caps defenseman Rod Langway copped the third star by virtue of his strong defensive effort.