On October 16, 1979, the Washington Capitals defeated the Los Angeles Kings by an 8-6 score before a paltry crowd of 5,386 at the Capital Centre in Landover.
Los Angeles’s Dave Taylor started the scoring with a goal at 6:14 of the first period. Just 40 seconds later, Washington’s Bengt Gustafsson answered with his first NHL goal. Gustafsson, who had played in the WHA the year before, was skating in his fourth game with the Capitals. Exactly a minute after Gustafsson tied the game, Washington’s Ryan Walter tallied on a power play to give the Caps the lead. Robert Picard’s power play goal at 13:41 gave the Caps a 3-1 lead but the Kings pulled to within a goal when Doug Halward scored on a Los Angeles power play at the 16:31 mark. With only 45 seconds left in the first period, Mike Gartner scored the first of his 397 goals as a Capital to restore Washington’s two-goal lead. For Gartner, who also played in the WHA in 1978-79, it was his first NHL goal. Los Angeles fired 13 shots at the Caps’ Wayne Stephenson in the first period while the Caps managed only nine against LA’s Mario Lessard.
The second period was scoreless until Tom Rowe tallied on the power play at 17:28 to extend the Washington advantage to 5-2. Halward netted his second of the game on an LA power play to make it 5-3 at 18:26. The Caps held an 11-5 advantage in shots on goal in the middle period.
Just over a minute into the third period, Charlie Simmer scored to draw the Kings to within a goal. Gustafsson scored his second of the game at 3:25 to make it 6-4, but Simmer and Taylor each struck with their second goals of the game to tie it at 6-6. Taylor’s goal came on the power play, the sixth power play goal of the night between the two teams. That tied a record for most power play goals by both teams in a Capitals contest. At 14:17 of the third, Washington’s Guy Charron scored what would prove to be the game-winner. Denis Maruk added an empty-netter in the game’s final minute to salt away the Washington victory. The Kings mustered 20 shots on Stephenson in the final period to push their total to 38 on the night. The Caps had nine shots in the third and 29 on the evening.
LA’s Marcel Dionne had four assists and became to 27th player in NHL history to reach the 800-point plateau. Gustafsson was the game’s number one star, Halward was the second star and Charron the third.