On January 4, 1986, the Capitals administered a 9-3 beating to the New Jersey Devils in front of 16,177 fans at the Capital Centre.
Washington got the scoring spree started early when Bobby Carpenter beat New Jersey's Chico Resch at 1:34 of the first period. Lou Franceschetti and Mike Gartner picked up the assists on Carpenter's goal, his ninth of the season.Dave Christian scored his 22nd of the season at 5:15 of the first with help from Bengt Gustafsson and Scott Stevens. Gartner scored his 20th of the season at 9:01 to lift the Washington lead to 3-0. Jorgen Pettersson and Gustafsson assisted on the Gartner goal. The Capitals outshot New Jersey by a 15-9 margin in the first period.
The Plumber Line struck for Washington at 2:53 of the second period. Greg Adams netted his 12th goal of the season and was assisted by fellow Plumbers Craig Laughlin and Alan Haworth. At 9:05 of the second, Gartner scored his second of the game on a Washington power play with Gustafsson and Christian assisting. Gartner's second goal was also Washington's second goal in as many shots in the second period and it chased Resch to the bench. After surrendering five goals on 17 shots, he was replaced in the New Jersey nets by rookie Sam St. Laurent. Gustafsson baptized St. Laurent at 10:27 of the middle frame, scoring his 12th of the season to make it 6-0 in favor of Washington. Christian picked up the lone assist on the Gustafsson goal. Gartner completed his hat trick at 14:23, scoring Washington's seventh unanswered goal of the night. After giving up two goals on five shots, St. Laurent returned to the New Jersey bench at 17:09 and Resch returned to the Devils' goal. The Devils outshot the Capitals by a 10-7 margin in the second period.
New Jersey finally got on the board at 6:24 of the third period when Mark Johnson beat Washington netminder Al Jensen while the Devils enjoyed the manpower advantage. Just over three minutes later, Aaron Broten scored on another power play to shave the deficit to 7-2. Jut three minutes after Broten's goal, Laughlin scored a power play goal to make it 8-2 in favor of Washington. Pettersson and Christian assisted on the eighth Washington goal of the evening. At 17:02 of the final period, Christian scored his second of the game to make it 9-2. Pettersson received the lone assist. Dave Pichette scored for New Jersey with just 30 seconds left in the third to make it 9-3 and close out the evening's scoring. The Caps outshot the Devils 11-8 in the third and 33-27 on the night.
Gartner's hat trick was the 10th of his Washington career, tying him with Dennis Maruk for the franchise's all-time lead. Gartner's four points made him the game's first star. With a goal and three assists, Gustafsson took second star honors. Christian's five-point night (two goals, three assists) got him the game's third star designation.