On October 11, 1988, the Capitals came up on the short end of an 8-7 barn burner against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Igloo in Pittsburgh.
Just four days earlier, the same two clubs opened the 1988-89 regular season at USAir Arena with the Penguins coming out on top, 6-4. In the second game, the fireworks started anew at 1:24 of the first period when the Penguins' Randy Cunneyworth beat Washington's Pete Peeters. Less than two minutes later, Mario Lemieux's first goal of the season pushed the Pittsburgh lead to 2-0. Kelly Miller halved the lead for Washington at the 9:19 mark, but Rob Brown's power play goal two minutes later restored Pittsburgh's two-goal bulge.
The Penguins came out flying in the second period. Zarley Zalapski scored at 2:11, Lemieux scored a shorthanded goal at 3:08 and Paul Coffey scored at the 6:55 mark to push the Penguins lead to 6-1 and chase Peeters from the nets. Clint Malarchuk took over between the pipes for Washington and the Capitals gamely battled back. Mike Ridley's second of the season - a power play goal - came at 11:07 and shortened the lead to 6-2. Lemieux notched his second shorthanded goal of the game just over a minute later, completing his hat trick and pushing the Pens' lead back to five. Ridley scored twice to close out the second period, completing a hat trick of his own. Pittsburgh led 7-4 after two periods.
As the Caps battled back, various members of the Caps and Penguins engaged in battles of their own on the ice. Cunneyworth and the Caps' Neil Sheehy squared off early in the second period. Washington's Yvon Corriveau and Pittsburgh's Troy Loney went toe-to-toe in the waning minutes of the period.
Just 51 seconds into the final period, Mike Gartner scored his second of the season to draw the Caps within two. At the 2:26 mark, Ridley scored his fourth of the game to make it a one-goal game. Eleven seconds after the Ridley strike, Dale Hunter and Pittsburgh's Paul Coffey were given fighting majors. The Caps continued to vie for the tying goal, but the Penguins' Bob Errey scored a four-on-four tally at 16:12 to take some wind out of the Capitals' sails. Exactly a minute later, Gartner scored his second of the game with an assist from Ridley to close out the game.
The Caps outshot the Penguins 39-26 on the evening. Lemieux was named the game's number one star on the strength of his three-goal, five-point night. Ridley settled for the second star with his four goals and an assist. Errey, who notched what proved to be the game-winner and also had two helpers, earned third star honors.