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On This Date in Sports May 24, 1980: Birth of a Dynasty

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A dynasty is born, as the New York Islanders win their first Stanley Cup. The first of four straight Stanley Cup comes dramatically as they beat the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime 5-4 in Game of the Stanley Cup Finals. The winning goal is scored by Bobby Nystrom, who scored his second goal of the game. Bryan Trottier is named the Conn Smythe winner, as Playoff MVP.


The New York Islanders were an expansion team in 1972. After hiring Al Arbour as their new coach, the Islanders began a rapid rise with a core of talent that included Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Brian Trottier, and Billy Smith. The Islanders reached the semifinals in the 1975 Playoffs. Over the next four years, Islanders played in the semifinals three times. The Islanders finished second in the Patrick Division with a record of 38-28-13 during the 1979/80. However, the acquisition of Butch Goring late in the season would prove beneficial for the playoffs. They also got a boost when Ken Morrow arrived after winning the Gold Medal with Team USA in the Olympics.


In the playoffs, the Islanders were the fifth seed as the NHL seeded teams from 1-16 regardless of the conference in 1980. In the first round, best-of-five, the Islanders took down the Los Angeles Kings in four games. In the second round, the Islanders started to get rolling as they beat the Boston Bruins in five games to reach the semifinals. The Islanders would reach their first Stanley Cup Final by beating the Buffalo Sabres in six games.


Coached by Pat Quinn, the Philadelphia Flyers had a season for the ages, posting the best record in the NHL at 48-12-20. The season was highlighted by a record 35-game unbeaten streak, as they held a record of 26-1-10 on January 6th. The Flyers swept the Edmonton Oilers in the first round, spoiling Wayne Gretzky’s NHL postseason debut. They moved on and took the New York Rangers down in five games, also needing just five games to beat the Minnesota North Stars in the semifinals.


In Game 1 at the Spectrum, the Flyers scored first on a goal by Mel Bridgman. Mike Bossy quickly tied the game as the opener swung back and forth. In the second period, Denis Potvin gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead, with Bobby Clarke tying the game. Rick MacLeish gave Philadelphia the lead in the third, only to be answered by Steffon Persson as the game went to overtime. In overtime, it was Potvin getting the game-winner as New York won 4-3. Three of the Islanders' four goals were on the power play, including the game-winner in overtime as James Watson whistled for holding. Game 2 would be all Flyers as the Broad Street Bullies evened the series with an 8-3 win as Paul Holmgren netted a hat trick, and Bobby Clarke had four points.



As the series shifted to the Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders were rejuvenated, taking a 6-0 lead through two periods, on the way to recording a 6-2 win. Again special teams are crucial as the Islanders scored five power-play goals, and a short-handed goal, with Denis Potvin scoring two goals with two assists. The Islanders got five goals from five different scorers, winning 5-2 in Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead. The Flyers stayed alive with a 6-3 win in Game 5, as MacLeish scored a pair of goals.


On a Saturday afternoon at the Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders looked to win the Stanley Cup as the game was aired on CBS. It would be the last NHL game on national broadcast television for a decade. Reggie Leach trying to get the Flyers to a Game 7, opened the scoring with a power-play goal. Denis Potvin tied the game four minutes later Duane Sutter gave New York a 2-1 lead. Later in the first period, Brian Propp would get the equalizer. In the second period, the Islanders got goals from Mike Bossy and Bobby Nystrom to take a 4-2 lead. That lead would quickly disappear as Bob Dailey, and John Paddock tied the game for Philadelphia. The game would go to overtime tied 4-4. In overtime, the Islanders would get the win on a goal by Bobby Nystrom at 7:11 of sudden death as he redirected a perfect pass from John Tonelli past Pete Peeters.

The Islanders would win four straight Stanley Cup Championships, and 19-straight postseason series before losing in the 1984 Stanley Cup Finals to the next dynasty, the Edmonton Oilers.