On May 24, 1980, the New York Islanders captured their first Stanley Cup by defeating the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-4, in overtime.
Here are the highlights of the game:
Here’s a longer treatment of the entire contest:
My favorite moment has to be obvious, right?
CBS picked up the right to televise this game at the last moment, and moved it to an afternoon start. In Madison, Wisconsin, I did not know this, and I was lucky to be flipping channels when the pregame show appeared. The previous games had been aired on delay (this was true of previous series as well), and it had been a challenge to follow the Islanders until the got to the finals.
Bryan Trottier won the Conn Smythe, and deservedly so. His 29 points broke Phil Esposito’s single playoff season scoring record, and it was his two assists in this game that allowed him to pass Esposito.
The series began with an Islanders’ win in Philadelphia in overtime on a goal by Denis Potvin, which was just as well, because earlier he had knocked a puck into his own net. The Flyers won Game 2, but the Islanders (and Trottier) dominated in Games 3 and 4 on Long Island, due in part to a lethal power play. A Flyer triumph in Game 5 returned the series to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, with the Islanders and their fans wondering whether the New Yorkers would choke away their first chance at a Stanley Cup (New York papers talked about this being the first Cup in 40 years, but that 1940 Cup belonged to the New York Rangers, something Islanders fans reminded Ranger fans until 1994).
The Islanders took the lead in the first period on two disputed goals: one came off a not-that-high stick of Denis Potvin, while Duane Sutter’s goal should never have counted, as the passing play that generated it was offside. The Isles took a 4-2 lead in the second (with one of the goals being scored by Bob Nystrom, who had first joined the club in 1972), but the Flyers tied it up in the third, leading to overtime.
Then it happened at 7:11. The Flyers, under pressure in part because of some tough checking by Nystrom, three the puck up the near boards. Defenseman Stefan Persson stopped the puck, then left it for center Lorne Henning, who was cycling back in neutral ice. Henning spotted left winger John Tonell cutting across the zone and hit him with a pass just as Tonell charged toward the blue line. Cross-crossing behind him was Nystrom. Only Bob Dailey was back for the Flyers to protect rookie netminder Pete Peeters.
Tonelli pulled up slightly and fed a forehand pass to Nystrom. The right winger had a fairly serious curve on his stick, and was not known for his backhand. However, this time he stuck out his stick, jabbing at the puck. The puck hit the backhand, and deflected in past a sliding Peeters.
I, for one, was
jumping all over the place ecstatic yelling like crazy quite pleased.
How did other fans experience it?
And then there it was on the ice:
The Islanders win the Stanley Cup.
For highlights of the entire series, go here:
The Islanders’ triumph even made Saturday Night Live: