When Bryan Murray became coach of the Washington Capitals on Nov. 11, he said, "All I can promise is that we will not be pushed around physically, we will be competitive and we will be a factor the rest of the season."
On Friday, before the Philadelphia Flyers came to Capital Centre, Murray made another promise: "A record will be broken tomorrow."
Not even Murray could have dreamed that his vow would become an understatement. The Capitals did win that first-ever game from the Flyers at the Centre Saturday night and, in the process, they reached double figures on the scoreboard for the first time in a 10-4 rout that atoned for a lot of sad, unhappy nights in years past.
Dennis Maruk and Tim Tookey recorded hat tricks, the first time two Capitals ever did that in a single game. Maruk added three assists to tie the team record of six points in a game. Greg Theberge had two goals and three assists; his five points were a club mark for a rookie and matched the record for a defenseman.
Another record, five power-play goals, put to rest that old Capital Centre defeatist cry of "Decline the penalty." The five goals, in 11 chances, equaled the team's total for the first eight games of this season.
What the Flyers usually do is knock the opposition around physically, but power-play goals are the antidote to such treatment. In the past, Philadelphia never needed to concern itself with red-light retaliation.
"We were informed they were doing a good job on the power play," said Philadelphia Coach Pat Quinn. "They moved around pretty well and obviously they are gaining confidence. They have some good individuals. I'd like to take a few of their guys and put them on my power play."
Quinn called what was probably the earliest timeout in NHL history, at 2:27 of the first period, after Maruk and Theberge had recorded extra-man goals to give Washington a 2-0 lead.
It was 4-0 by the end of the first period and 8-1 by the midpoint of the second period. Then the scoring parade slowed and it was not until 17:06 of the third period that rookie Bobby Carpenter pushed the Capitals into double figures.
Maruk not only had a big night on the scoreboard, but he was also a standout on faceoffs. He took an early one from Flyer Bobby Clarke to set up the opening goal, deflecting Darren Veitch's drive from the point.
Maruk then won a faceoff from Bill Barber to set up Theberge's goal, which did not assuage Clarke's injured feelings. Clarke received five minors and a misconduct during the game and grumped afterward that "my midget team could have scored that many goals with all those power plays."