Ten. The basis of the numerical system in which most of the world operates. A “top” number for purposes of ranking. A “perfect” number as a means of evaluating things, experiences, and even persons.
“The number of weeners in a package.”
Yes, Cheerless, commonly the number of hot dogs to a pack.
“So what’s with the eight hot dog buns in a bag?”
Cheerless, can we…
“I mean, what do you do with the extra hot dogs?"
“Feed ‘em to the dog? Make franks ‘n’ beans?”
“And what with the ‘n’ in ‘franks ‘N” beans,’ anyways?”
“…sorry, go ‘head.”
In hockey, “ten” has become an uncommon number. Over the last ten seasons, including this one, a team scored ten goals in a regular season game only five times. Only once in almost 30 years has a team scored ten goals in a playoff game (Pittsburgh beat Philadelphia, 10-3, in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal in 2012).
Which brings us to the Washington Capitals. We can get one thing out of the way at the beginning. The Caps have never scored ten goals in a postseason game (they have been victimized for one, a topic we might get to at a later time). They have, however, scored ten or more goals on 12 occasions in the regular season. And did you know that…
1. The 12 instances of ten or more goals scored in team history ranks tied for sixth among all NHL teams since 1974-1975, when the Caps entered the league.
2. The Caps tended to do this sort of thing in bunches, calendar-year wise. They did it twice in 1981, twice in 1987, three times in 1993, accounting for seven of the 12 instances.
3. Twice in games that the Caps scored ten goals, they won by a double-digit margin:
- February 6, 1990, Capitals 12 – Quebec Nordiques 2. Seven different Capitals recorded goals with two-goal games from Randy Burridge, Dino Ciccarelli, and Mike Ridley. It was Alan May’s goal at 8:03 of the second period to give the Caps a 5-1 lead that chased starting goaltender Stephane Fiset. Jacques Cloutier also allowed five goals in relief. Mike Liut stopped 30 of 33 shots for the win.
- January 11, 2003, Capitals 12 – Florida Panthers 2. This game was probably the high-water mark of the Jaromir Jagr era for the Caps. Jagr had a seven-point game, including a hat trick, one of two times in Caps history that a player recorded seven points in a game (Dino Ciccarelli: 4-3-7 vs. Hartford Whalers, March 18, 1989, in an 8-2 win).
4. Power plays were featured prominently in these 12 games. The Caps scored no fewer than two power play goals in each of them.
5. Speaking of power plays in ten-goal games, in the Caps’ 10-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 13, 1987 – Friday the 13th – the Caps recorded seven power play goals, one of only three teams in NHL history to record seven power play goals in a game. Boston did it in an 8-0 win over the Minnesota North Stars on January 4, 1975, and the Maple Leafs scored seven of their own in a 9-1 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on October 14, 2005. The last six goals the Caps scored in that game, all in a span of 8:36 of the third period, came on power plays. For the record, those last six goals were scored by: Craig Laughlin, Mike Gartner, Garry Galley, David Jensen (2), and Ed Kastelic. The Caps took advantage of the Maple Leafs taking two major penalties for fighting in the last five minutes of that contest (no Capital served a coincidental major), over which the Caps scored five of their power play goals.
6. That 10-2 win over the Maple Leafs in March 1987 was the second time that the Caps lit up Toronto for ten or more goals. They beat the Maple Leafs, 11-2, on December 11, 1981. Toronto is one of three teams against which the Caps scored ten or more goals twice. They also turned the trick twice against the Los Angeles Kings (a 10-3 win against the Los Angeles Kings in Washington on December 6, 1987, and a 10-3 win over the Kings in Los Angeles on February 13, 1993) and the Quebec Nordiques (a 12-2 win in Washington on February 6, 1990, and a 10-3 win in Quebec on November 10, 1991).
7. Nine of the 12 ten-goal games by the Caps came on home ice, six of them at the old Capital Centre/USAirways Arena and three of them at MCI Center/Verizon Center (now Capital One Arena).
8. The games on the road in which the Caps scored ten or more goals are the more interesting. I addition to the 10-3 win over Quebec in November 1991, the Caps beat the St. Louis Blues in a wild 10-6 contest and the Los Angeles Kings by a 10-3 margin. What is interesting about those latter two games? They came in consecutive games for the Caps, the win in St. Louis on February 11, 1993, and again against the Kings in Los Angeles two nights later, on February 13, 1993.
9. As best as we can determine, those two consecutive ten-goal games by the Caps in 1993 were the fourth instance in NHL history of a team recording ten or more goals in consecutive games. The others:
- Montreal Canadiens: January 11, 1919 (13-4 over the Toronto Arenas) and January 16, 1919 (10-6 over the Ottawa Senators)
- Edmonton Oilers: January 12, 1983 (10-4 over the Chicago Black Hawks) and January 15, 1983 (10-4 over the Minnesota North Stars)
- Detroit Red Wings: November 23, 1992 (10-5 over the Tampa Bay Lightning) and November 25, 1992 (11-6 over the St. Louis Blues)
The Caps and Edmonton were the only teams to win both of their respective games on the road.