With the NHL season on pause due to the coronavirus, we’re digging into the archives for a look back at some great moments in Capitals history.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll present a series of ‘This Date in Capitals History’ features.
We continue with March 30.
March 30, 1975: In the penultimate home game of the Capitals’ inaugural season, forward Ron Lalonde became the first player in franchise history to score a hat-trick.
“That’s a record I’m very proud of,” Lalonde said in 2016. “It’s one [Alex] Ovechkin can’t break- the first Washington hat-trick. It was Easter Sunday, an afternoon game in Washington against the [Detroit] Red Wings. We got out to a 5-2 lead, I scored two goals on one shift in the second period, but unfortunately we ended up losing the game 8-5 which took some of the luster off that achievement.
“But I look back on it now and it’s a point of pride for me that I scored the Washington Capitals first hat-trick. It only lasted a week- Stan Gilbertson scored four in the final game against Pittsburgh the next week. So, I didn’t have long to hold the record, but it still was the first one.”
March 30, 1991: Don Beaupre made 21 saves for his second consecutive shutout as the Capitals beat the New Jersey Devils 4-0 in Landover. Michal Pivonka had a goal and an assist, while Jeff Greenlaw, Calle Johansson and Mike Ridley also scored in the Washington win. Beaupre became the first goalie in franchise history with five shutouts in a season.
March 30, 2019: Alex Ovechkin scored twice, including his 50th goal of the season, as the Capitals beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-3 at Amalie Arena.
Ovechkin joined Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy as the only players in NHL history with at least eight career 50-goal seasons. Ovechkin’s 50th goal of the year left him with 657 for his career – one clear of Brendan Shanahan for 13th place on the NHL’s all-time goal-scoring list.
“It’s nice to be in those names,” Ovechkin said at the time. “But again, my career is not over. I have plenty years to go. When I’m going to be done, I’m going to think about it. But right now focus on the win.”
Ovechkin would finish the year with a League-best 51 goals to secure his NHL-record eighth career Rocket Richard Trophy as the circuit’s goal-scoring leader.
“It’s been, obviously, a phenomenal milestone year for him and it’s going to continue to be for the next few years as well,” head coach Todd Reirden said at the time. “We’re so fortunate to have this player in Washington and playing for the Capitals. A generational talent. And, you know, the NHL is fortunate to have a guy like this. We’re spoiled in Washington for sure, but the whole National Hockey League is spoiled to have a guy like this. I’m happy for him because he put the work in. He put the work in and he deserves it.”