On This Date in Sports February 20, 1982: Streaking on the Island

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The New York Islanders set a record with their 15th straight win, beating the Colorado Rockies 3-2 at the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum. The Islanders get the win on John Tonelli’s goal with 47 seconds left going through the five-hole of former teammate Chico Resch. The streak topped the record 14-game streak set by the Boston Bruins in 1930. One night later, the streak ended with a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road. The Islanders would go on to win a third consecutive Stanley Cup Championship. 

The New York Islanders were the kings of hockey as the 1980s began. They beat the Philadelphia Flyers for the Stanley Cup in 1980 and repeated in 1981, beating the Minnesota North Stars. The Islanders coached by Al Arbour were playing well again in the 1981/82 season. They hit a minor bump in the road with a winless three-game road trip. On January 21st, they began the day with a 25-13-6 record as they crushed the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-1 to start their winning streak. 

The Islanders' next win was just as dominant as they humiliated the rival New York Rangers 6-1. Most of the wins during the streak were more than two goals. A 4-2 win over the Minnesota North Stars and a 7-6 win over the Washington Capitals. Over the 15 games, the Islanders outscored their opponents 94-35.

After equaling the streak, the Islanders hosted the Colorado Rockies, who were among the worst teams in the NHL. Led by Billy MacMillan, the Rockies had a record of 13-36-11 entering their game against the Islanders. The game was one of pride for goalie Glenn “Chico” Resch. A year earlier, Resch, who once shared the goaltending duties with Billy Smith, was traded by the Islanders to Colorado. This was his first game back at the Nassau Coliseum. 

Don Lever gave Colorado an early lead, with a goal at 11:20 of the first period. The Islanders would show their quick-strike ability as Bryan Trottier and Brent Sutter scored 58 seconds apart. Chico Resch was able to shut down the Islanders, giving his team a chance to win the game. Lever scored the only goal of the second period as the game was 2-2 late in the third period. There was no overtime in 1982, meaning a game would end in a tie, ending the winning streak. With 47 seconds left, John Tonelli unleashed a perfect shot that went through the five-hole of Resch to give the Islanders a 2-1 win. 

The Islanders posted a record of 29-3-4 over their final 36 games in 1982; they finished with a record of 54-16-10. The Islanders won the Stanley Cup for the third straight season; as they celebrated, the Rockies became the Islanders’ newest neighbor, moving to New Jersey and becoming the Devils. The winning streak would be topped in 1993 when the Pittsburgh Penguins won 17 straight games.