33 years ago tonight the Washington Capitals’ traditional arch-rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, came to the Capital Center in Landover, Maryland, for the first game of a home-and-home set between the two teams. The weekend series would turn into a post-Thanksgiving fight-fest highlighted by numerous line brawls and hundreds of penalty minutes.
The first game, held on “Black Friday”, immediately went off the rails for the Capitals as they fell behind early. John Cullen scored the fourth goal for Pittsburgh and immediately after that, Cullen got into a scrap with Dale Hunter of the Caps, with both being assessed roughing penalties.
With just six seconds to go in the first period, Neil Sheehy and Nick Kypreos of the Capitals got into a scrap with Phil Bourque of Pittsburgh. All three players were given roughing penalties and Kypreos and Bourque were both given 10-minute misconduct penalties. Pittsburgh ended up with a power play that would extend into the second period.
In the end, the first period featured 11 minor penalties, mostly for roughing, and two misconducts.
The second period was relatively penalty-free, with the Penguins scoring on their carry-over power play. Both teams scored two goals and the period ended with the score 6-3.
The third period was a different story. Both teams had one goal apiece, with Mario Lemieux scoring on a penalty shot while the Caps were on the power play.
Penalty-wise, there were the usual hooking and holding infractions, as well as a scrum between Scott Stevens of the Caps and Gord Dineen of the Penguins, that earned them both roughing penalties. But things got even more heated.
At 15:51, Kevin Stevens (Penguins) was given a misconduct penalty which ended his night. At 18:29, Troy Loney (Penguins) got into a scrum with Kevin Hatcher who responded by instigating a fight with him. Both were assessed fighting majors, with Loney called for roughing and Hatcher called for instigating.
Less than 10 seconds later, a major melee broke out. This involved multiple fights between players including Jock Callender, Troy Loney, Phil Bourque, and Gord Dineen of Pittsburgh and Alan May, Neil Sheehy, and Bob Rouse of Washington. Rod Langway was assessed a game misconduct.
The final score was 7-3 in favor of the Penguins. The Penguins were assessed 72 penalty minutes and the Caps were assessed with 56.
The rematch in Pittsburgh the next day was won by the Caps, 4-1. However, the game featured even more fights and penalties, with both teams earning over 100 penalty minutes in the game.
In total, the post-Thanksgiving pair of games saw nearly 350 penalty minutes, numerous game misconducts and an assortment of line brawls.
By Diane Doyle