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Trade Winds, Eight Wins

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
On Wednesday March 8, 1989, the Capitals dropped a 3-2 decision to the Canadiens in Montreal. The game was noteworthy in that it was the first contest in a Caps sweater for Dino Ciccarelli, Bob Rouse and Calle Johansson. Those three players were obtained in two separate trades the day before.

The game was also noteworthy because the Caps would not suffer another loss for more than two weeks.

On March 9, Washington traveled to Boston for a date with the Bruins. The Caps jumped out to a 4-0 first-period lead on their way to a 7-2 thumping of the B’s. Geoff Courtnall notched his third career hat trick – and his first with Washington – in the win.

The Capitals returned home to take on the New York Rangers on March 11. Dave Christian staked the Caps to an early lead with his 30th goal of the season at 1:43 of the first. The two teams traded goals – including Ciccarelli’s first as a Capital – and were knotted at 2-2 after two. Dale Hunter and the late Doug Wickenheiser scored at 15:18 and 17:58 of the third, respectively, to supply the 4-2 winning margin.

For the second time in three games, Washington poured four first period goals on the opposition in a March 14 home game against the Winnipeg Jets. But the Jets came back with three of their own to make it a 4-3 game early in the third period. Courtnall beat the Jets’ Pokey Reddick late in the third to make it 5-3 and John Druce’s empty-netter finished off a 6-3 win over Winnipeg.

The Caps closed out their three-game homestand against Montreal on St. Patrick’s Day. Scoring the first four goals of the game yet again, Washington cruised to a 4-1 win over the Habs. Ciccarelli scored twice and only Bobby Smith’s third-period goal stood between Caps goalie Pete Peeters (20 saves) and a shutout.

Washington headed back out on the road for a March 18 date with the Whalers at the Hartford Civic Center. Ciccarelli had a career night, starting off with a natural hat trick on his way to a four-goal, seven-point night. The Caps romped over the Whalers by an 8-2 score to run their winning streak to five.

The Caps visited the Penguins in Pittsburgh on March 22, seeking their sixth straight victory. Kevin Stevens put the home team on the board first, but the Caps broke a 3-3 tie late in the second when Christian (his 31st) and Courtnall (his 39th) beat the Penguins’ Wendell Young in a span of just 101 seconds. Those goals helped the Caps shake off Mario Lemieux’s two-goal game (his 73rd and 74th of the season) on their way to a 5-4 win over the Pens.

Back home to face the Flyers on March 24, the Caps scored the first six goals of the game on their way to an easy 6-1 victory over Philadelphia. Peeters needed to make just 15 saves as the Caps chased Philly’s Ron Hextall in the middle of the second period for their seventh straight win.

Six different Capitals scored against Philly, starting with Mike Ridley’s 39th of the season in the first period. Courtnall and Ciccarelli each scored their 40th of the season just 44 seconds apart in the middle frame.

The winning streak went to eight on March 26, a Sunday afternoon home game against the Islanders. Third-period goals by Druce and Ciccarelli erased a 2-1 New York lead and enabled the Caps to take a 3-2 triumph behind Don Beaupre’s 21-save effort in goal.

Two nights later, the Caps failed in their bid to run the streak to nine. Playing on the Island in the second half of a home-and-home set, the Caps fell 5-4 to New York.

The eight-game winning streak matched the second-longest in club history. Since that day nearly 21 years ago, Washington has put together five winning streaks of seven games in length, but until Wednesday’s 5-1 win over Anaheim, it had failed in its previous four bids to run the number up to eight.

During the 1989 eight-game winning streak, the Caps outscored their opponents by a combined 43-17. This year’s run features a 40-18 goal differential.
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