Isles 40 in 40 -- #37
November 28, 1979-- Billy Smith is Credited with a Goal
The season that would become the first of the Islanders' four consecutive Stanley Cups did not start well. In fact, it was a disappointment all around until early March, when Butch Goring became the "final piece" of the Stanley Cup puzzle. However, the early months of the season had a few memorable moments.
There was the "Double Chili" game that will merit its own consideration later in this series. There was also the home opener that season, when a fan (Norman Weidner of East Islip), later nicknamed "One Shot Norman", won a car in Score-O the very first time its played.
However, for historic purposes the night of November 28, 1979 gets itself Moment #37. The night Billy Smith was credited with a goal.
The Isles were winless in four, and 6-10-3 overall, when they arrived at McNichols Sports Arena in Denver. In fact they hadn't won a game in the 15 days since the aforementioned "Double Chili" game. They did however bring with them a 13-0-2 record in games against the Rockies.
Chico Resch was actually in goal for the Isles to start, and the Isles built a 3-2 lead late in the second period. However, Ron Delorme and Lucien DeBlois scored in the final 1:45 of the session to give the Rockies the lead.
Exit Chico Resch and enter Billy Smith. Less than 5 minutes into the third period, with the score still 4-3 Colorado, Mike Kaszycki was signaled for a delayed penalty. Colorado coach Don Cherry pulled his netminder Bill MacKenzie for the 6th attacker and Smith stopped a shot by the Rockies and deflected the puck into the near corner. Rookie defender Rob Ramage grabbed the puck there but his pass back to the blue line missed everyone and ended up in his own net.
The goal was originally credited to Islander defensemen Dave Lewis but television replays proved otherwise. The last Islander to touch the puck was indeed Smith and he became the first goaltender in NHL history to be credited with a goal.
Since then goaltenders have scored goals ten other times (eight times in regular season play and Ron Hextall and Martin Brodeur in the playoffs). In fact Hextall is one of three who did it and later played for the Islanders -- Chris Osgood and Evgeni Nabakov are the others --however only one player could be credited as doing it first, and that player was Billy Smith.
Oh, about the game. Ron Delorme cashed in on the ensuing power play and the Rockies went on to a 7-4 victory. Ironically, Smith's goal took Chico Resch off the hook and Smith was charged with the defeat.
Post script: The road trip continued two nights later in Edmonton. With the Isles struggling, Billy Harris was pulled out of the lineup, ending his streak of playing every game in club history (576). Duane Sutter was recalled from junior and replaced him in the lineup. However, Denis Potvin was injured in that game and didn't play again until March.
In March, Potvin returned, Ken Morrow joined the team, and Harris and Lewis were dispatched to Los Angeles for Goring. And a whole slew of other Top 40 moments occurred shortly thereafter.
The List to Date:
#37 -- November 28, 1979 -- Billy Smith is credited with a goal
#38 -- December 23, 1978 -- Trottier re-writes the record book
#39 -- February 11, 2011 -- Isles pound Pens 9-3
#40 -- Summer 2001 -- Isles hire Laviolette, trade for Peca and Yashin, claim Osgood.
Like any of these lists, my #2 may be your #20...