On Saturday night, the Calgary Flames will play their 3,808th regular season game and make their 61st trip to face the New York Islanders. It’ll be the first NHL game ever played at the new UBS Arena.
Way back on Oct. 7, 1972, the Atlanta Flames played their first regular season game in the first NHL game ever played at the Nassau Coliseum. It was a 3-2 win for Atlanta, the first-ever W for the Flames franchise.
In a battle of two expansion teams, the Flames never trailed. In the first period Morris Stefaniw scored the first goal in Flames history shorthanded, beating Islanders netminder Gerry Desjardins with Randy Manery in the penalty box.
The Islanders tied things up late in the second period, when Ed Westfall beat Phil Myre on the power play. Two early third period goals tilted the balance. Rey Comeau and Bobby Leiter scored 65 seconds apart to give the Flames a 3-1 lead. The Isles’ Billy Harris scored a power play goal with a few minutes left in regulation (and Atlanta’s Bill Plager in the penalty box) but that’s as close as the Islanders got as they opened the Coliseum with a 3-2 loss.
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Here’s what the line-ups looked like for Atlanta’s first-ever game.
Atlanta Flames
New York Islanders
#1 – Phil Myre
#30 – Dan Bouchard
Goalies
#30 – Gerry Desjardins
#31 – Billy Smith
#2 – Bill Plager
#3 – Pat Quinn
#4 – Noel Price
#5 – Ron Harris
#6 – Bob Paradise
#7 – Randy Manery
#24 – Kerry Ketter
Defensemen
#3 – Bryan Lefley
#4 – Jim Mair
#5 – Ken Murray
#6 – Bill Mikkelson
#22 – Ron Smith
#8 – Lew Morrison
#9 – Keith McCreary
#10 – Norm Gratton
#12 – Ernie Hicke
#15 – Jacques Richard
#16 – Bobby Leiter
#18 – Rey Comeau
#19 – Morris Stefaniw
#20 – Billy MacMillan
#21 – Larry Romanchych
Forwards
#7 – Germain Gagnon
#9 – Brian Spencer
#10 – Lorne Henning
#11 – Dave Hudson
#12 – Terry Crisp
#14 – Brian Marchinko
#15 – Billy Harris
#16 – Brian Lavender
#17 – Tom Miller
#18 – Ed Westfall
#19 – Craig Cameron
Coached by Montreal Canadiens legend “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, the Flames went with seven defensemen and 10 forwards. The Flames went with the same lineup a week later in the first game at The Omni in Atlanta, a 1-1 tie with the Buffalo Sabres.
In case you’re wondering: yes, that’s Terry Crisp on the first Islanders lineup. Yes, it’s that Terry Crisp, the one that coached the Flames to their one and only Stanley Cup victory in 1989.
Billy Smith and Lorne Henning were still with the Islanders in the spring of 1980 when they captured their first Stanley Cup. A few months later, Dan Bouchard (the backup in the first-ever Atlanta Flames game) was the starter in the first-ever Calgary Flames game in 1981, a 5-5 tie with the Quebec Nordiques at the Stampede Corral.
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The Flames will be pursuing the 1,775th regular season franchise win on Saturday night.