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Mid-Day Memories: Gordie Howe Hat Tricks

Where we look at those instances in which a Capital recorded a goal, an assist, and a fighting major in a single game.

Washington Capitals Forward Dennis Maruk Photo by Bruce Bennet Studios/Getty Images

On October 11, 1953, in a game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Olympia in Detroit, Gordie Howe assisted on a Red Kelly goal to open the scoring, scored a goal of his own on a power play to give the Wings a 2-0 lead, and then, less than a minute after he scored his goal, he squared off with Toronto’s Fernie Flaman and took a five-minute major for fighting. It was the first of what would earn the name “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” – a goal, and assist, and a fight – in his career. It was an amazingly efficient disposal of the three components, Howe recording all three in the first period of a 4-0 win.

You might think it was the first of many for Howe in his long, legendary career. You would be wrong. He posted only one other “GHHT” in his career, recording a goal, a pair of assists, and a fight (against Ted “Teeder” Kennedy) against the Leafs once more in a 6-1 win in Detroit on March 21, 1954.

This being a look back at some of the interesting tidbits of Washington Capitals history, we wondered about the history of GHHTs in Caps history. Let’s take a look…

  • Twenty nine players account for 43 GHHTs in Capitals history.
  • Dennis Maruk has the most GHHTs in team history with four. The first of those came on December 17, 1978, at Capital Centre against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The complete list includes:

— Dennis Maruk (4)

— Mike Gartner (3)

— Kevin Hatcher (3)

— Tom Rowe (3)

— Ryan Walter (3)

— Bengt-Ake Gustafsson (2)

— Bill Riley (2)

— Scott Stevens (2)

— Bob Kelly

Troy Brouwer

— Bob Carpenter

Jason Chimera

— Ben Clymer

— Lou Franceschetti

— Bob Girard

— Jeff Halpern

— Alan Haworth

— Dmitri Khristich

— Mike Knuble

— Steve Konowalchuk

— Bill Lesuk

Tyler Lewington

— Alan May

— Paul Mulvey

— Robert Picard

— Jean Pronovost

— Blair Stewart

— Chris Valentine

— Darren Veitch

  • The first GHHT in Capitals history was recorded by Bill Lesuk, on February 21, 1975, in a game against the Buffalo Sabres at Capital Centre. He scored a goal 10:08 into the contest to tie the game, 1-1. He assisted on a Paul Nicholson goal 10:00 into the second period for the Caps’ second goal of the contest. The trouble was that between those goals, Buffalo scored five goals of their own. Lesuk added a fighting major in the third period to complete the GHHT in a 9-4 loss to the Sabres.
  • Maruk had a pair of goals and a pair of assists in a 7-6 win over the Maple Leafs on December 17, 1978. His second goal of the game proved to be the game-winner, and while this was not the first time a Capital scored a game-winner while registering a GHHT (Tom Rowe did it in a 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on November 1, 1978), we will take this opportunity to call it the “PeeWee Hat Trick” in honor of Maruk’s nickname.
  • Speaking of game-winners and PeeWee Hat Tricks in Caps history, there have been 11 PWHTs in team history. Three players have two apiece – Maruk, Rowe, and Kevin Hatcher. The others are:

— Bengt-Ake Gustafsson (March 13, 1982; in a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers)

— Alan Haworth (March 24, 1984; in a 6-0 win over Pittsburgh)

— Jeff Halpern (February 7, 2001; in a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche)

— Mike Knuble (February 7, 2010; in a 5-4 overtime win over Pittsburgh)

Troy Brouwer (December 7, 2011; in a 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators)... with highlights (and Brouwer gets a decisive victory in this bout on our scorecard):

  • Haworth’s instance is noteworthy for two other facts. First he scored his game-winner only 28 seconds into the 6-0 win over the Penguins. Second, Haworth took two fighting majors in the game, the only instance in which a Capital recorded more than one fight in a GHHT game.
  • The Caps have a record of 32-11-0 in the 43 games in which a GHHT was recorded.
  • Philadelphia is the opponent victimized most-often by a Capital recording a GHHT (seven times). Dennis Maruk is the only Capital to bite the Flyers twice in such games – December 21, 1980 (6-0 Caps win in Philadelphia) and March 5, 1983 (4-3 Caps win at Capital Centre).
  • Maruk also holds (with Jean Pronovost) the high game in penalty minutes when recording a GHHT. He logged 25 minutes in the 6-0 win over the Flyers on December 21, 1980, while Pronovost posted 25 minutes in the same game.
  • Maruk and Pronovost posting GHHTs in the same game was not the only time in team history that teammates did so. It is not even the most instances in a single game. Maruk (1-2-3, 17 PIMs), Ryan Walter (1-1-2, 17 PIMs), and Chris Valentine (2-2-4, 19 PIMs) all did so in a 9-4 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 5, 1981.
  • Robert Picard holds the team record for points in a game when recording a GHHT. He had a goal and four assists (five points) in a 9-5 win over the Hartford Whalers on March 8, 1980 at Capital Centre.
  • The Caps have shown little preference for home or road in posting GHHTs, but their record does have a distinct home cooking quality to it. GHHTs have been recorded 21 times on home ice (18-3-0) and 22 times on the road (14-8-0).
  • The Caps have a unique instance of the Gordie Howe Hat Trick, and chances are you might spend a long time before settling on the player to whom it belongs. Tyler Lewington posted a goal, and assist, and a fighting major in a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on December 29, 2018. It is the only instance in NHL history in which a player’s first career goal, first career assist, and first fighting major were recorded in the same game. In an odd twist, he did not record a point on what would be the game-winning goal (scored by Madison Bowey, marking the first time in team history two defensemen scored their first career goals for the Capitals, and assisted by Tom Wilson), and he would be re-assigned to the Capitals AHL affiliate in Hershey the following day. But first... the highlights!
  • There have been four GHHTs recorded by Caps in their postseason history. Dale Hunter did it twice – April 21, 1990 in a 6-3 win over the New York Rangers and on April 19, 1991 in a 7-6 loss to the Penguins. Michal Pivonka did it on April 21, 1992 in a 6-2 win over the Penguins. Mike Green was the last Capital to do it, in a 6-3 loss to the Flyers on April 15, 2008. Pivonka’s is the only instance of a PeeWee Hat Trick (goal/game-winning goal, assist, fighting major).

And there you have it, a look back at one of the more interesting story lines in Capitals history.