No. 3 - J.P. Parise: Islanders vs. New York Rangers in Game 3 of the 1975 NHL Preliminary Round
After finishing in last place their first two seasons in the NHL, the New York Islanders finished with a 33-25-22 record in 1974-75 to make the playoffs for the first time in team history. On January 5, 1975, GM Bill Torrey acquired J.P. Parise from the Minnesota North Stars for a pair of forwards. Along with fellow acquisition Jude Drouin, the 1974-75 Islanders entered their preliminary playoff round matchup with cross-town rival New York Rangers optimistic about their chances.
The Isles won the first game of the series 3-2 at Madison Square Garden before being blown out by the Blueshirts 8-3 at the Nassau Coliseum to send the series back to MSG for a decisive Game 3. The underdog Islanders held a 3-0 lead heading into the third period on a goal from Clark Gillies in the first and two by Denis Potvin in the second.
But in the third, the Rangers came storming back and scored three goals against Billy Smith, and the Isles found themselves on the verge of being eliminated by their big city counterpart.
The game would go into overtime and produced the first of many memorable playoff moments between the two teams in the 70s and 80's. It all happened in 11 seconds.
Here are quotes from players as captured by Stan Fischler in his Maven's Memories series.
"I decided to fire the puck into the corner," said captain Eddie Westfall, "and see what happened."
"As soon as Davey dumped the puck, I raced in, got to it first and sent it right out to J.P. He had gotten around their defenseman Brad Park," Drouin said.
“We had a set play,” Parise recalled. “If Jude went to the corner, I’d go to the other corner. For some reason, this time, I never went to the corner; I went to the net. Jude found me and I tipped it in. It was a tremendous pass right on my stick. Brad Park was on the ice and I just beat him there. I got hit so hard after I scored, I hit the back of my head on the ice and then the guys all piled on me.”
"It was just like being in church; so quiet," said head coach Al Arbour.
The New York Islanders had arrived and the rivalry with the Rangers was just getting started.