The NHL was busy on Saturday, January 28, 1989. A record number of fans (164,223) showed up to watch the ten games that were played that day. That sold out eight of the ten arenas. In some cases prompted by the extra cheering, the teams showed their audiences good close games. By the numbers, three games ended with ties. Of the remaining, the home teams won three while the visitors took four. Five of those games were won by one goal, and two of those were in overtime.

The two games in Pennsylvania went very well for the home teams. Pittsburgh filled to capacity with 16,025, for the 13th consecutive game. Their 25-game attendance totaled at 388,971, an average of 15,159 per game. The maxed-out crowd witnessed the Penguins defeat the visiting Detroit Red Wings 10-5. Philadelphia hosted a rare morning game at 11:05 am, which 17,423 came out to watch. The breakfast the Flyers had together before the game must have been good because they won 7-4 over the visiting New York Islanders.

The three tie games took place down the center of North America – in Toronto, Bloomington (Minnesota), and St. Louis. The Maple Leafs managed to tie the New York Rangers 1-1 at 5:29 of the third period. Neither team scored in overtime. In Minnesota, the crowd of 13,502 did not quite reach the maximum 15,000. Still, the North Stars looked poised to win until the New Jersey Devils’ Jack O’Callahan scored a power-play goal with only 1:58 remaining. After the overtime session, they were still tied at 4-4. Matching that score were the St. Louis Blues and visiting Washington Capitals.

Both teams had had issues just getting to St. Louis on Friday. The Blues left Boston only to have their plane turn back 20 minutes into the flight when a warning light indicated an engine had caught fire. They were put on another plane after about three hours and made it home safely. The Capitals had their flight “abort its landing” because another plane was on its runway. Fortunately, both teams made it for the 17,591 fans, the seventh sellout crowd in the last eight games held at St. Louis. “The fans we have here, they never die here,” enthused Blues left winger Gino Cavallini, “When we’re behind, they are at their loudest.” Cavallini scored two of the four goals, while Greg Paslawski scored the other two. Playing in his 900th game, Bernie Federko earned his 700th and 701st assists.

Two games tied in regulation did have a winning goal in overtime. Before a sellout crowd of 15,223 in Hartford, the Whalers led 2-1 until the third period. Five minutes in, the Quebec Nordiques Peter Stastny tied during a power play. Only 32 seconds into overtime, Marc Fortier scored the winning goal for the Nordiques. At 3-2, the last place team snapped the Whalers’ five-game unbeaten streak. In another international matchup, again the Canadian team won but at home. A whopping 20,002, the largest crowd of the day, gathered at the Calgary Saddledome. In only 2:20 during the first period, the Flames gave up three goals to the Chicago Blackhawks and had to swap goalies. They made up for it over the remainder of the game. With only two minutes remaining in overtime, Dana Murzyn gave the Flames a 5-4 win and added a third game to their winning streak.

In the other three games of the night, the winners managed to retain a one-goal lead during regulation. Of them, only the Montreal Canadiens won at home. Their 17,809 fans watched them defeat the visiting Buffalo Sabres 2-1, snapping their nine-game unbeaten streak. It seemed only fair since the Sabres had beaten Montreal at Buffalo the night before. In Boston, 14,261 Bruins fans came to watch Ray Bourque’s return after a knee injury forced him to miss 20 games. He rewarded them by scoring a goal and an assist. However, that was not enough to overcome the Winnipeg Jets, who won 4-3. Some fans blamed the referees. With 1:56 left in the game, fan Frank Baro “climbed over the lower glass beyond the visitors’ bench and went running toward referee Bill McCreary” after McCreary chose not to call a high sticking on the Jets. He was checked by a player and arrested. Finally, over on the west coast, Los Angeles sold out to a crowd of 16,005. The Kings were down 5-0 when Jay Miller, who had only been with them a week, refused to fight back earning them a five-minute power play. That’s when Bernie Nicholls stepped in and scored two quick goals, his 49th and 50th in 51 games (tying a Kings record). By the time the second period ended, the Kings had caught up to the Edmonton Oilers at 6-5. During the last period, Miller managed to tie up the score, but Oilers Craig Simpson scored the winning goal at 11:53 of the third.

On that day with so many watching so much hockey, only the Vancouver Canucks did not play.

 Additional Sources:
  • Dave Molinari, “Quinn-led Penguins produce 10-5 rout,” Pittsburgh Press, 29 Jan. 1989, p. D1 and D8.
  • Al Morganti, “Flyers bedevil Isles, 7-4,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 29 Jan. 1989, p. 1-D and 4-D.
  • Barry Meisel, “Early Flyers blitz sends Islanders into a sleepwalk,” New York Daily News, 29 Jan. 1989, p. 60.
  • Frank Brown, “Leafs tie Rangers, conk Tony G,” New York Daily News, 29 Jan. 1989, p. 60.
  • Jerry Zgoda, “Devils tie North Stars with help of late penalty,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, 29 Jan. 1989, p. 1C and 8C.
  • Jeff Gordon, “Blue Bounce Back In 3rd Period, Tie Caps,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 29 Jan. 1989, p. 1F and 8F.
  • Dave Luecking, “Blues Take A Frightful Flight Out Of Boston,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 29 Jan. 1989, p. 8F.
  • Jeff Jacobs, “Fortier goal beats Whalers,” Hartford Courant, 29 Jan. 1989, p. D1 and D8.
  •  Eric Duhatschek, “Murzyn caps off big rally,” Calgary Herald, 29 Jan. 1989, p. F1-F2.
  • “Chelios goal cuts streak of Sabres,” Calgary Herald, 29 Jan. 1989, p. F2.
  • Red Fisher, “Richer, Chelios spark Habs,” Montreal Gazette, 29 Jan. 1989, p. C1 and C6.
  • “Bruins-Jets,” Boston Globe, 29 Jan. 1989, p. 41 and 49.
  • Tracy Dodds, “Kings Battle Back, Lose War, 7-6,” Los Angeles Times, 29 Jan. 1989, p. 15.
In her personal history, Kyle Hurst hated her toe picks and wanted to skate on a hockey team like her brother. With age comes wisdom, and realizing how poorly she skates, she now much prefers watching the professionals. Writing about history for her day job, Kyle enjoys combining her two loves by writing hockey history. She still hates toe picks.


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