That don't impress Butch much.
Last night, with a chance to tie the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins for the longest winning streak in NHL history, the Edmonton Oilers lost 3-1 to the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights. Edmonton was the third team to surpass the 15-game winning streak of the 1981-82 New York Islanders, but all streaks aren’t created equal.
Isles legend Butch Goring appreciates what the Oilers and Penguins have accomplished, but their status as two of the three longest win streaks in NHL history deserves a significant asterisk, according to the MSG Network analyst.
Goring's logic is simple. The Pittsburgh streak had the benefit of overtime and the Edmonton streak had the benefit of both OT and the shootout. The 1981-82 Islanders had neither. "My Isles won 15 in a row with no ties, appreciate both Oilers and Penguins with their win [sic] streak but they did need extra to keep it going," Goring posted via X on Tuesday.
Goring omitted the Columbus Blue Jackets, who also topped his Isles' streak, winning 16 in a row during the 2016-17 season, which included a perfect 14-0-0 record in December.
The 1981-82 Islanders sought to break a 52-year record for consecutive wins held by the 1930 Boston Bruins. The unbeaten streak ran from Jan. 21, 1982, through Feb 20, 1982, with the 15th and final win coming in the most dramatic of fashions.
The Isles and Colorado Rockies were tied 2-2, with time winding down in the third period. Regular season overtime didn't come to the NHL until the 1983-84 season, meaning the Isles needed to push for a win as the clock ticked down under a minute. The always-clutch John Tonelli took a pass from Bryan Trottier, entered the zone on the left side, and unleased a slap shot through the legs of former teammate Glenn 'Chico' Resch with 47 seconds left, sending the 15,127 fans into a delirious frenzy.
"None of us believe this streak will last forever, but it sure adds a lot of fun and tension each time we go out on the ice," said Tonelli after the game via the SI Vault. Islander General Manager Bill Torrey was glowing, too. "Every year, somebody's name is inscribed on the Stanley Cup," he said. "But it's been 52 long years since anybody's done this."
The 1992-93 Pens needed two O.T. wins during their 17-game win streak from Mar 9. through April 10. Those wins happened in their second win (4-3 vs. LAK) and game 15 (4-2 vs MTL). The streak came to an end in a 6-6 tie on Apr 14. at the New Jersey Devils.
The Oilers beat the LA Kings 3-2 in a shootout on Dec. 30 and won back-to-back O.T. wins at Detroit on Jan. 11 and at Montreal on Jan. 13. The 2016-17 Blue Jackets, coached by John Tortorella, had two shootout wins and one O.T. victory during their streak.
The 1981-82 Islanders streak was broken on Feb 21. 1982 in a 4-3 loss to the Penguins in Pittsburgh. They went 7-0-2 in the next nine games, and unlike the teams that have since surpassed their streak, they continued their dominance throughout the playoffs.
The Isles finished their season by winning their third consecutive Stanley Cup with a four-game sweep against the Canucks in the Final. The 1992-93 Pens were, of course, upset by Al Arbour's upstart Isles, who shocked the hockey world by beating them in Game 7 of the Patrick Division Final. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets finished in third place in the Metro and were knocked out in five games in their first-round series with the Penguins.
Time will tell how far this year's Edmonton team can go come the post-season, where O.T. wins will always be perfectly acceptable in the quest for the Cup.