The First of Many: October 27, 1973
The Islanders first year in the NHL wasn’t one to write stories about. The expansion club was predictably terrible. They didn’t win many games, specifically at home to the Rangers. The two rivals met three times in Nassau that first season with the Rangers going 3-0 with a +10 goal differential.
Bill Torrey and his boys would have to wait until the 1973-74 season before beating the Rangers on home ice. It was the first meeting of the season between the two. The Isles pulled out a 3-2 win on the day.
That night Denis Potvin would pick up two of the Islanders goals, the opener off a Bob Nystrom feed and then he’d get the game-winner from Billy Harris.
That was Potvin’s first game against the Rangers since going first overall in 1973. Goalie Gerry Desjardin should have been credited with two helpers on both of Potvin’s goals for giving number 5 the intel he needed to beat the Rangers netminder that night:
"“Before the game our goalie Gerry Desjardins gave me the ‘Skinny’ on the Rangers goalie Ed Giacomin,” Potvin said. “Gerry said that sometimes Giacomin ‘pulls up on shots’ and I should shoot low. Sure enough, I beat him low on his glove side.”"
Billy Smith would stop 30 of 32 shots for a 0.938SV% on the night.
The second period would see two fighting majors with Andre St Laurent going toe-to-toe with Brad Park at 9:53 and then Nystrom would tussle with Garry Howatt.
I could only imagine how loud the Coliseum was that night. Tasting victory against the Rangers for the first time would have been something epic to cheer about.