The Washington Capitals joined the National Hockey League during the 1974-75 season, playing their home games in the newly built Capital Centre in Landover, MD. As an expansion team, the Caps struggled to find a solid core of star players. By 1982, however, the team was a perennial NHL contender, as they would qualify for the playoffs 14 consecutive years. The Caps of the late 1980s consisted of such legends as defenseman Rod Langway, center Dale Hunter and right wing Mike Gartner. The team’s signature win came in Game 7 of the 1988 Division Semifinals, with Hunter scoring the game-winning goal on a breakaway in overtime, sending the Capital Centre into a frenzy.
The 1997-98 season was the Capitals’ first playing their home games at MCI Center, now known as Verizon Center. Then led by stars such as goalie Olie Kolzig (known as “Olie the Goalie” to his fans), league-leading goal scorer Peter Bondra and playmaking center Adam Oates (the team’s current head coach), the team reached their first and only Stanley Cup Final in 1998. Six years later, the District welcomed one of its biggest sports stars to date, as the Capitals drafted Alex Ovechkin with the number 1 overall pick in the 2004 NHL Draft. Ovechkin has won three Hart Trophies as the NHL MVP, and has led the Caps to six consecutive playoff appearances, including a classic seven-game series with fellow phenom Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs (you can meet a wax version of Ovechkin at Madame Tussauds Washington D.C. nearby). The future remains bright with Ovechkin and star center Nicklas Backstrom leading the way.
DC obsessively “Rocks the Red” during hockey season. The Verizon Center has now sold out 181 consecutive Caps games, dating back to the 2008-09 season. The stadium erupts with cheer for every Caps goal, as the franchise’s signature siren rings through the roars of the raucous crowd. You can also catch the Caps’ mascot, Slapshot, firing up the crowd and cheering on the beloved home team.
The Penn Quarter/Chinatown area surrounding Verizon Center features a myriad of hot spots for dining and activity. Located on 7th Street NW, a DC thoroughfare, the venue is near popular spots such as Fado Irish Pub and Hill Country Barbecue, both excellent places to grab a meal before or after the game. If you’re looking for a more high-end dining experience, Zengo, Ping Pong Dim Sum and Oyamel are all within walking distance. Also near the Verizon Center are an array of great shops, restaurants and a movie theater featuring 16 screens.
Verizon Center is conveniently located immediately above the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro stop. This stop serves as a transfer station to the Green, Yellow and Red Lines. Riding the Metro to the game is the easiest and most convenient option. Tip: walk a short distance to/from the Metro Center stop to avoid some of the crowds.
Public parking garages and Capital Bikeshare docks are located near the area. For these and other transportation options, visit godcgo.com.
- Alex Ovechkin holds the record for most goals scored by a left winger in a single NHL season (65 in 2007-08).
- The Capitals have played in the postseason 24 times over the past 30 years.
- The team has retired the numbers of four players: Yvon Labre (#7), Rod Langway (#5), Dale Hunter (#32, who also coached the team in 2011-12) and Mike Gartner (#11).
- The Caps played the longest Game 7 in the history of the NHL Playoffs, losing to the New York Islanders in quadruple overtime on April 18-19, 1987. The game was deemed the “Easter Epic.”