Over half way into the third period on October 17, 1989, the visiting Calgary Flames had only three goals while the Quebec Nordiques had just scored their eighth. The way the game was going may have surprised fans considering Calgary came into the game with four wins and one loss while the Nordiques had the exact opposite record. Instead of giving in, the Flames made a stunning comeback.
As the clock tipped into the 13-minute mark, the Flames scored three goals in less than 27 seconds (between 13:27 and 13:54). Left winger Gary Roberts, who had scored a goal in each of the first five games of the season, potted two goals back to back. Eleven seconds later, Jim Peplinski, right wing, scored his only goal for the entire season. The three goals in such quick succession were not enough to beat the Boston Bruins’ 1971 record of 20 seconds, but they brought the score up to 8-6.
At 19:41, the Flames’ loss seemed sealed. Gary Roberts was penalized two minutes for roughing, two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, and ten minutes for misconduct. The Flames would have to play the remainder of the game shorthanded. Four of the Nordiques’ goals occurred on power plays (due to 5 and 10 minute penalties incurred by the Flames for high sticking and game misconduct). With nothing to lose, the Flames pulled their goalie, Mike Vernon. At 19:45, with exactly 15 seconds remaining in the game, center Doug Gilmour scored from the left faceoff circle. At the next faceoff, he passed the puck to his left wing, rookie Paul Ranheim, who scored the final goal of the game at 19:49. The game ended tied at 8-8.
The Flames were the fourth team to score two goals within four seconds. The first team was the Montreal Maroons in 1931. The Buffalo Sabres had become the second team exactly 15 years earlier, on October 17, 1974. The third, the Toronto Maple Leafs, had accomplished their feat just the prior December. Although fourth, the Flames held a new record for the fastest two shorthanded goals. By that point, in 1987, both the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins managed to score two goals within two seconds.
Calgary’s huge comeback occurred exactly one year after another massive amount of scoring in the third period. On October 17, 1988, the Flames went into the third period edging over the visiting Los Angeles Kings 4-3. They added seven goals during the last period, which was a team record. In both seasons, 1988-89 and 1989-90, the Flames finished first in the Smythe Division. They won their only Stanley Cup in 1989.
- Brian McFarlane, Brian McFarlane’s History of Hockey (Champaign, Ill.: Sports Publishing Inc., c1997), 236.