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On This Date in Sports February 20, 1981: Stastny Brothers Magnifique

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It is game for the ages for the Stastny Brothers (Peter and Anton) as each record a hat trick for the Quebec Nordiques in a 9-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks at the Pacific Coliseum. Both Peter and Anton Stastny also record three assists. Two nights later, they would do it again as Peter Stastny had four goals and four assists, and Anton had three goals and five assists in an 11-7 win over the Washington Capitals at the Capital Centre. 


The Stastny Brothers were the stars of the Czechoslovakian National team. The Czechs had won the Silver Medal at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck and were the second-ranked National Team heading into the 1980 Games in Lake Placid. With a loss to Team USA, the Czechs would finish fifth in 1980. Six months later, Peter and Anton Stastny defected to Canada intending to play in the NHL. Both Peter Stastny, born in 1956, and Anton Stastny, born in 1959, would sign to play with the Quebec Nordiques. A year later, they would be joined by the eldest brother Marian Stastny born in 1953. This made the Stastny Brothers the third trio of brothers to play on the same team in the NHL joining the Bentleys (Max, Reg, and Doug) who played with the Chicago Black Hawks in the 1940s and the Plager Brothers (Bill, Bob, and Barclay) who played with the St. Louis Blues in the 1970s.  


The news of the Stastny Brothers' defection to the NHL was significant as they were among the first players from the Eastern Bloc to play in the NHL. At the time, such a move was both daring and dangerous, as they could have been banned from playing hockey and jailed by the Czechoslovakia Government, which was a puppet regime of the Soviet Union. Peter and Anton Stastny were playing with the National Team at the European Cup Finals in Austria. Seeking to get away from the Iron Curtain, the Stastny received an assist for Nordiques President Marcel Aubut to escape through Vienna. 


Both Anton and Peter Stastny shined right away in their new surroundings with the Quebec Nordiques. Both were among the league scorers on the Nords and the top rookies in the NHL in 1981. The highlight of the brothers’ season came at the end of an eight-game road trip, in which Quebec posted a 6-2-0 mark for coach Michel Bergeron. Going coast to coast, the Stastny brothers had back-to-back hat tricks as the Nordiques enjoyed road wins over the Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals. 


On February 20th, the Nordiques took on the Vancouver Canucks at Pacific Coliseum. In the first period, Quebec jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals by Peter Stastny. The second of which featured an assist by brother Anton. The Canucks got a goal from Thomas Gradin and trailed 2-1 at the end of the first period. In the second period, it was Anton Stastny scoring two goals, giving the Nords a 4-1 lead. After Lars Lindgren scored for Vancouver, the Nordiques got the fifth goal by Michel Goulet, with both Stastny Brothers getting credited with an assist. Before the second period was over, Jacques Richard scored to extend the Nordiques lead to 6-2. In the third period, the Nordiques got three more goals. The first by Goulet, with Peter and Anton each scoring and each getting an assist on the other’s goal. Ivan Boldirev would score late for the Canucks as the Nordiques won 9-3. Both Peter and Anton Stastny had three goals and three assists. 


Two nights later, the Quebec Nordiques faced the Washington Capitals at the Cap Centre in Landover, Maryland. The Stastny Brothers continued to light up the scoreboard, as both Peter and Anton scored first period goals while getting an assist as the Quebec led 2-1 at the end of the first period. After Rick Green tied the game for the Capitals with a power-play goal, Anton Stastny scored 41 seconds later to again give Quebec the lead, naturally, Peter Stastny had an assist on the goal. At the 6:09 mark, the Capitals tied the game at 3-3. Just 19 seconds later, it was Peter scoring to make it 4-3, with Anton again getting an assist. Jacque Richard scored seven minutes later to extend Quebec’s lead to 5-3. Dennis Maruk scored for Washington, to cut the Nordiques lead to 5-4. Late in the second period, Peter Stastny completed the hat trick, with Anton again getting an assist. Peter also reached three assists in the second on a goal by Pierre Lacroix. In the third period, Le Nordiques were magnifique, as they scored three times in 93 seconds to extend their lead to 10-4. The first goal came off the stick of Anton Stastny to complete his second straight game with a hat trick. Natural, Peter was there with his fourth assist of the game. Jacques Richard scored the next two Nordiques goals, giving Quebec three players with three goals, in a game that had become a laugher. On the first of Richard’s goal, Anton Stastny was credited with his fourth assist of the game. The Capitals would answer the Nordiques, three-goal explosion with three goals of their own. It was not nearly enough as the Stastny brothers teamed up one more time, with Peter scoring his fourth goal and Anton getting his fifth assist, as each had eight points in an 11-7 victory for the Nordiques. The eight points established a new record or rookies in a single game. 


In total, the Stastny Brothers scored 13 goals and 15 assists in two games, with Peter Stastny getting seven goals and seven assists, while Anton Stastny had 12 goals and eight assists. Anton Stastny had a terrific rookie season, with 39 goals and 46 assists. Peter Stastny, meanwhile, was the Nordiques leading scorer with 39 goals and 70 assists, earning the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in the NHL as he was the first rookie with 100 points. Peter and Anton would be joined by the eldest Stastny brother Marian the following season. Peter Stastny would have the best career of the three brothers and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame after a 15-year career posting 450 goals, with 789 assists, totaling 1239 points. The Stastny legacy is on-going in the NHL as Peter’s son Paul Stastny plays with the Vegas Golden Knights.