Goalie change sparked Isles 1975 legendary upset

Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 12:07 PM ET / News
By John Kreiser  - NHL.com Columnist
X
Share with your Friends


Goalie change sparked Isles 1975 legendary upset
Goalie change sparked Isles 1975 legendary upset
The 1975 New York Islanders weren't even supposed to have gotten to the Stanley Cup Playoffs quarterfinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The third-year Isles weren't expected to get past their big-city rivals, the Rangers, in the best-of-three preliminary round -- but they did, winning Game 3 in overtime at Madison Square Garden in a game then-Isles GM Bill Torrey later called "the biggest win in franchise history."

But a series against the Penguins was no bargain.

The Islanders had gone 0-for-Pittsburgh in their first three regular seasons, and nothing changed at the start of the playoffs. The Penguins took the first two games 5-4 and 3-1, then put the Isles on the edge of elimination with a 6-4 victory at the Nassau Coliseum on April 17.

Win a trip to Winter Classic: ENTER NOW!

But sparked by a goaltending change -- coach Al Arbour sat Billy Smith in favor of Glenn "Chico" Resch -- the Islanders made sure they wouldn't be swept by winning 3-1 at home. They stunned a Civic Arena crowd that was ready to celebrate the franchise's first trip to the semifinals with a 4-2 win in Game 5, then delighted their home fans with a 4-1 win in Game 6.

No team since the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs had won a series after trailing 3-0; in fact, no team had gotten this far after losing the first three games since the 1945 Detroit Red Wings. At the start of Game 7 in Pittsburgh on April 26, the Isles looked like they'd have to settle for matching the Red Wings' accomplishment.

Pittsburgh came out flying, outshooting the Isles 14-5 in the first period and 11-6 in the second. But Resch -- with a little help from his goal posts, which stopped two other shots -- got them all, including a pair with his mask.

"We didn't make a bad mistake defensively," Torrey said afterward, "and nobody lost their cool."

The game remained scoreless past the 14-minute mark of the third period, but the Isles' defense started making like easier for Resch, and the offense began to generate some chances. At 14:42, captain Ed Westfall, a two-time Stanley Cup winner with Boston, took a pass from defenseman Bert Marshall and beat goaltender Gary Inness with a high backhander.

Resch didn't have to make another save the rest of the way, and a few minutes later, the Isles had completed their stunning comeback.

"We were written off in the New York series. We were down three here and they wrote us off, which just proves what great players we have," Arbour told the media after the game. "They never heard of the word quit."

The Isles nearly did it again, rallying from a 3-0 series deficit to force a Game 7 against the defending champion Philadelphia Flyers before a 4-1 loss sent them home for the summer.

Author: John Kreiser | NHL.com Columnist

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 77 34 43 -2 77
R. Strome 76 16 32 20 48
K. Okposo 55 16 31 -11 47
F. Nielsen 76 14 28 8 42
B. Nelson 77 19 22 7 41
A. Lee 71 23 16 10 39
J. Bailey 65 15 23 3 38
J. Boychuk 67 8 25 9 33
N. Leddy 73 10 21 14 31
T. Hamonic 67 5 26 16 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

NewYorkIslanders.com is the official Web site of the New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P. and NewYorkIslanders.com are trademarks of New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P.  NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.

Privacy Policy |  AdChoices |  Terms of Use |  Contact  Us |  Employment |  Webmaster |  NHL.com Terms of Use