In the Islanders third year in the NHL, 1974-75, they made the playoffs for the first time. After two abysmal seasons -- only 31 wins in 156 games -- they finished 33-25-22 in '75 and tied the Rangers for second in the Patrick Division with 88 points. The two teams met in the first round of the playoffs for a best-of-three series that would vault the Islanders into the New York sports consciousness when they knocked out the long-established Rangers. The Islanders took Game One at the Garden, 3-2, and were routed 8-3 two nights later at the Coliseum. That setup a decisive Game Three the next night at the Garden. The Islanders held a 3-0 lead early in the game before the Rangers mounted a furious comeback to force overtime, which is where we'll pick up the story. The following is an excerpt from Dynasty: The Oral History of the New York Islanders, 1972-1984 and is republished with permission from author Greg Prato.
EDDIE WESTFALL: I had been there before in the playoffs and overtimes. So my thought was, ??What did we do when I was a Boston Bruin when we got to the playoffs and overtime??? One thing we always said in the Bruin dressing room was, ??When you??re going to go to overtime, you??ve got to win as quickly as possible. You??ve got to be aggressive, you??ve got to take a little bit of a chance. You don??t want to sit back.?? So that??s what we had drummed up in the dressing room. They put out the oldest line on the team - JP Paris?, Jude Drouin, and Ed Westfall. And that??s all we talked about - ??Win the face-off, get the puck in, put pressure on them, and we??ll take our chances down in their end of the ice. They can??t score if the puck??s in their backyard.??
JP PARIS?: I think it was Dave Lewis who dumped the puck into the Rangers corner. And at that time, Jude and I had a play, where he would go to the puck, and just kind of bang it behind the net. I would automatically go to the far corner and receive that pass. We bought time so I could make a play - give him a chance to get back in front of the net or follow behind the net. We had different options. And for some reason, I decided to go to the net, instead. And Jude got to the point, first. One of the Rangers didn??t pick up the puck, so Jude was right on top. He??s the guy that made the whole play - he spotted me going towards the net. All of a sudden, it was right on my stick, and I had a whole open net. I scored, and that??s the last I remembered, because after I scored, I got hit from behind. Brad Park hit me, and I fell down on the ice. But we all went nuts, and the game was over. It was just a great, great feeling.