What Is the Worst Moment in Capitals’ History?

Posted July 18, 2010

Capitals fans are a long-suffering bunch. We’ve celebrated very little and suffered many heartbreaks. Unfortunately, highlighting the Capitals’ best moments is resorting to reflecting on Alex Ovechkin’s back-to-back MVPs or division championships. Instead, let’s depress ourselves and remember the darkest times in Washington’s history, and VOTE ON THE WORST MOMENT AT THE BOTTOM.

1974-75 Inaugural Season

The brand new Washington Capitals went 8-67-5 and set records for the most road losses, consecutive road losses, consecutive losses, and lowest winning percentage. Even by new team standards, this was horrendous.

1987 Easter Epic

Despite outshooting the Islanders 75-52, the Capitals lost Game 7 of the Patrick Division Semifinals at 1:56 in the morning on Easter Sunday. Pat LaFontaine’s goal was scored at 68:47 of overtime.

1990 Trouble in a Limo

Scott Stevens, Dino Ciccarelli, Geoff Courtnall and Neil Sheehy were accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old in a limousine in Georgetown. No one was charged criminally for what happened, but Stevens, Courtnall and Sheehy were let go and Ciccarelli was virtually given away to the Red Wings for Kevin Miller a couple seasons later.

1992 Patrick Division Semifinals

Washington grabbed a 3-1 series lead, including a 7-2 win in Game 4 in Pittsburgh, but Mario Lemieux and company outscored the Caps 14-7 over the next three games and went on to win their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

1993 Hunter Check on Turgeon

In the Patrick Division semifinals, near the end of Game 6, Pierre Turgeon of the Islanders stole the puck from Dale Hunter and scored, putting the game out of reach. As Turgeon celebrated, Hunter checked him from behind, separating Turgeon’s shoulder. Hunter was suspended 21 games for the incident.

1995 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

Once again, the Capitals got a 3-1 series lead, only to cough it up to – you guessed it – the Pittsburgh Penguins.

1998 Esa Tikkanen Missed Shot in Finals

With the Capitals winning late in Game 2 of the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals, Esa Tikkanen missed a wide-open net that would have iced the game that the Capitals ended up losing. Many feel this was the turning point in the series.

2004 Salary Dump

Acknowledging that their rebuilding attempt via free-agency had failed, the Capitals dismantled the core of their team during the season. For fans, it was like watching them die a slow death. The Caps traded Jaromir Jagr, Robert Lang (the first player in league history to be traded while leading the league in scoring), and Peter Bondra, as well as others. The Capitals finished tied for third to last place in the league. (correction appended)

2008 Kolzig’s Departure

Olaf Kolzig (Yardbarker)

Losing his starting job to Cristobal Huet, Kolzig left the team a few weeks after the Capitals were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round against Philadelphia. This is the player who led all fan voting in 2004 as the top player in franchise history, and had played his entire career in Washington. He signed with division rival Tampa Bay.

2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals

The Ghost of Playoff Disappointment Past returned as a new generation of Penguins dismantled a new generation of Capitals, much like in the 90s, after the Caps had a 2-0 series lead. Game 7 was a blowout – at Verizon Center – and the Penguins went on to win the Stanley Cup, again. (This has been corrected as we initially got 2009 confused with the times when the Caps were up 3-1.)

2010 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

The Capitals won the Presidents’ Trophy and lost to the 8th-seeded Montreal Canadiens in Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs, losing a 3-1 series lead.

Dishonorable Mentions
1989 Ron Hextall Scores on the Caps in Patrick Division Semifinals
1996 Penguins’ Petr Nedved Scores in OT #4 of Game 4
2000 Penguins Host Game 1 Due to Scheduling Conflict, Win Series

What is the worst moment in Washington history?

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