That Thursday night the Isles swamped Pittsburgh 6-1 at the Coliseum, to begin their record-setting 15-game winning streak.
The game was scoreless into the 2nd period, before Brent Sutter and Bryan Trottier sandwiched goals around a Rick MacLeish tally. It was Trottier’s 250th NHL goal and began his club record 25-game point streak.
The Isles blew the game open early in the 3rd on goals by Bobby Bourne and Clark Gillies. Bourne and Billy Carroll would score late in the game and the Isles had their 6-1 victory.
The Isles actually scored 3 goals on the same 4 on 4. Pat Boutette and Denis Potvin, playing his 600th NHL game, were both given double minors at 18:08 of the 2nd period. Trottier scored 20 seconds later while Bourne and Gillies later completed a 3 goal in 3:27 outburst.
Gillies, Trottier, and Bossy all extended point stretches to 15 of 16 games.
Roland Melanson stopped 23 of 24 shots.
It was the start of one of the most dominating stretches by any team in any sport.
Try these numbers:
The Isles won 15 straight, outscoring their opponents by a combined 97-35--an average of 6.53-2.33.
They won by at least 3 goals in all but three games in the streak.
9-0 at home, 6-0 on the road.
John Tonelli scored the winning goal of the 15th game at 19:13 of OT --remember, there was no OT in those days. That win established the NHL record. It was one of only two one-goal wins during the streak. The other was a 7-6 win over Washington in which all of the goals were scored in the first two periods. The Isles have not won a 7-6 game in regulation time since. [They've won 4, all in overtime --most recently in February 2011 in Buffalo]
They beat the Penguins 4 times in the streak, before Pittsburgh would break the spell on February 21, 1982 [4-3]
After losing to Pittsburgh, the Isles went 7-0-1 in their next 8 [7-0-2 in their next 9]. Their 24 [and 25] game stretches were 22-1-1 [and 22-1-2].
21-Jan-82 Vs Pittsburgh 6 1 W
23-Jan-82 Vs New York 6 1 W
26-Jan-82 Vs Pittsburgh 9 2 W
27-Jan-82 @ Pittsburgh 6 3 W
30-Jan-82 Vs Minnesota 4 2 W
02-Feb-82 Vs Washington 7 6 W
04-Feb-82 @ Washington 5 2 W
06-Feb-82 Vs Detroit 6 2 W
07-Feb-82 @ Buffalo 7 3 W
11-Feb-82 @ Chicago 8 2 W
13-Feb-82 Vs Philadelphia 8 2 W
14-Feb-82 @ Hartford 9 1 W
16-Feb-82 Vs Pittsburgh 6 2 W
18-Feb-82 @ Philadelphia 7 4 W
20-Feb-82 Vs Colorado 3 2 W
21-Feb-82 @ Pittsburgh 3 4 L
Here's a look at the winning goal for game #15:
And oh yes, one other streak began that night. A high school student made his debut as the statistician on home telecasts. I've never left.
Over those 30 years, I have worked primarily with only two play-by-play men, who indulged me with this picture on Ed Westfall's night in November:
So tonight, as MSG+ hits the air at 7:00, I'll be seated just to Howie's left, with the same goal I had 30 years ago -- to make our broadcast just a little bit better.
May the next 30 years be as much fun!