On October 6, 1982, the Capitals opened a new era in their history with a 5-4, come-from-behind victory over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Washington spotted the Rangers a 2-0 first period lead on goals by Marty Pavelich and Vaclav Nedomansky. The second period was all Washington as the Caps scored three unanswered goals.
Ted Bulley scored Washington's first goal of the season at the 4:04 mark. Bulley was obtained from the Chicago Blackhawks over the previous summer, coming to DC just two days before Poile took over the GM reins. Milan Novy,Washington's second choice (58th overall) in the 1982 Entry Draft, assisted on Bulley's goal to register his first NHL point. Coming off a fabulous rookie season, sophomore center Bobby Carpenter tied the game for the Caps at 5:32. Novy and Mike Gartner picked up assists on Carpenter's goal. Scott Stevens gave Washington its first lead of the season at 14:13 with Craig Laughlin and Chris Valentine assisting.
New York stormed back against Capitals netminder Pat Riggin. Eddie Johnstone scored a shorthanded goal at 4:39 to tie the game at 3-3. Don Maloney, who assisted on each of New York's first two goals of the evening, tallied at 6:23 to give the Rangers the advantage. Less than a minute later, Novy scored his first NHL goal and completed a three-point night when he tucked one behind New York netminder Eddie Mio. With just 1:50 remaining in the game, Gartner scored his first goal of the season on a feed from Bengt Gustafsson. Gartner joined Novy in the three-point club for the game.
Washington out shot the Rangers by a 28-23 count.
The game marked the debut of Rod Langway and Craig Laughlin, obtained less than a month earlier in a blockbuster trade with the Montreal Canadiens. It was also the first game of the David Poile era in Washington. The Poile era lasted 15 seasons, producing 14 playoff berths and a 594-454-132 regular season record.