On This Date in Sports February 4, 1986: Grant Fuhr's Big Day

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The 38th Annual NHL All-Star Game needs overtime to decide a winner at the Hartford Civic Center. The Wales Conference skates off with a 4-3 win, as Bryan Trottier of the New York Islanders scored 3:05 into sudden death. However, the star of the game is Grant Fuhr of the Edmonton Oilers, who becomes the first black man to win the NHL’s All-Star Game MVP, making stopping all 15 shots he faced in the first 30 minutes of the game. 

 The top stars of the NHL came to Hartford for the 38th Annual All-Star Game. It was still an era in which players went to the All-Star Game looking to win and play an actual hockey game with defense and goaltending. Glen Sather of the Edmonton Oilers was the coach of the Campbell Conference, while Mike Keenan from the Philadelphia Flyers led the Wales Conference. The 1986 NHL All-Star Game was the first to feature a fan vote. Among the players voted to start the game was Pelle Lindbergh, the Flyers goalie, who passed away in November after a car crash. 

 Fans in Hartford look forward to seeing an explosive game with stars like Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers and Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins. They got a tight defensive battle of goalies; neither team could score during the first period. Backstopping the efforts for the Wales Conference was Mario Gosselin of the Quebec Nordiques, while Grant Fuhr of the Oilers was between the pipes for the Campbell Conference. 

In the second period, Tony Tanti of the Vancouver Canucks broke the ice as he scored an unassisted goal at 7:56. Midway through the second period saw a switch in goaltending as Andy Moog, who backed up Fuhr in Edmonton, came on for the Campbell Conference, while Bob Frose, who took over in Philadelphia after the passing of Lindbergh came on for the Wales Conference. As he departed, Grant Fuhr was given a standing ovation from the crowd and both teams on the bench. 

The Wales Conference tied the game with 2:04 to play in the second period on a goal by Brian Propp of the Flyers. In the third period, the Wales Conference took the lead at 4:45 on a goal by Peter Stastny of the Nordiques. The score remained 2-1 in favor of the Wales Conference until Wayne Gretzky scored the equalizer with just under three minutes to play in regulation. Only 29 seconds later, Propp scored again to put the Wales Conference back in front 3-2. With 43 seconds left, Dale Hawerchuk of the Winnipeg Jets tied the game again, forcing overtime. 

 In overtime, a pair of New York Islanders on the ice decided the game, as Bryan Trottier won the game for the Wales Conference 4-3, receiving an assist from Mike Bossy. Despite the Wales Conference winning, Grant Fuhr was chosen as the game’s MVP, making history as the first black player named MVP of the NHL’s All-Star Game. He later would become the first black player elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, thanks partly to a 20-year career that saw him win the Stanley Cup five times.