By Randy Schultz
Editor’s note: With the Buffalo Sabres looking for a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals for just the third time in franchise history, we figured now was as good a time as any to look back at some of the great moments the hometown team has enjoyed. Perhaps you were on hand for some of them or remember seeing them on TV.
Here, local hockey expert Randy Schultz provides his top-10 list.
10. — Oct. 15, 1970 — The NHL arrives in Buffalo as the Sabres play their first official regular-season home game against the Montreal Canadiens, losing 3-0.
9. — March 22, 1989 — Sabres goaltender Clint Malarchuk is cut in the throat with the skate blade of St. Louis Blues forward Steve Tuttle. With blood gushing out of his neck area, Malarchuk calmly skates off the ice and receives medical attention that saves his life. A few days later, he stops by Memorial Auditorium during a game, is convinced to stand in the Zamboni entrance where it is announced he is located. A two-minute standing ovation follows, leaving many in the Aud with tears in their eyes.
8. — Jan. 24, 1978 — NHL All-Star Game is held in Buffalo. The Sabres Rick Martin scores the game-tying goal for the Wales Conference. Buffalo’s Gilbert Perreault scores the winner for the Wales Conference in OT.
7. — April 27, 1994 — Dave Hannan scores in OT to give Buffalo a victory over the New Jersey Devils to end the longest Stanley Cup playoff game in Sabres history.
6. — April 24, 1993 — Buffalo’s Brad May scores in OT to beat the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It marks the first playoff series the Sabres had won in 10 years. The play becomes known simply as “May Day” based on the call of legendary announcer Rick Jeanneret.
5. — May 20, 1975 — Game 3 of the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals in Buffalo between the Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers. Better known as the Fog Game. Fog forms at ice level, making it almost impossible for players to see. The Sabres’ Rene Robert ends the game in OT when he scores to beat Flyers goalie Bernie Parent, making the final score 5-4.
4. — June 19, 1999 — No Goal — Stanley Cup Final game vs. the Dallas Stars. In OT, Brett Hull scores the winning goal for the Stars. Moments after scoring the goal, replay shows that Hull’s foot was in the goalie crease and shouldn’t have been allowed. Unfortunately, the postgame celebration had already started with the Cup being presented to the Stars on HSBC Arena ice.
3. — Jan. 4, 1976 — The Sabres defeat the Soviet Wings 12-6 at Memorial Auditorium. It was the worst defeat ever suffered by a Russian team in International competition.
2. — Dec. 13, 1972 — The third-year Sabres win their 16th straight game at home against the Boston Bruins, 7-3. The game is filled with fights, including three by Sabres rookie defenseman, Jim Schoenfeld, who seemed to take on any-and-all Bruins that night. The most memorable occurred when Schoenfeld and Wayne Cashman crashed through the doors at the Zamboni entrance and continued their battle on the cement surface. Schoenfeld eventually came out the victor and received a standing ovation by the Aud faithful.
1. — March 7, 1986 — Gilbert Perreault scores the 500th goal of his NHL career at home against the New Jersey Devils. Teammate Mike Foligno passed the puck to Perreault, who redirected it into the net past Devils goalie Alain Chevrier. At the time, Perreault was just the 12th player in NHL history to hit the 500-goal mark for a career.