With players such as Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Pittsburgh Penguins certainly have had an explosive offense in their history.
But during a game in 1972, the Penguins enjoyed a record-setting scoring outburst. In the third period of a 10-4 win over the St. Louis Blues, the Penguins scored five goals in a 2:07 span. It is a NHL record that still stands. November 22 marked the 45th anniversary of the feat.
On Nov. 12, 1972, the Penguins were blanked, 1-0, by the Buffalo Sabres and goalie Roger Crozier. But they won their next three games, outscoring the opposition, 18-5. They beat the Minnesota North Stars, 7-1, on Nov. 15; the Atlanta Flames, 6-1, on Nov. 18; and the New York Rangers, 5-3, on Nov. 19.
Facing the Blues at Civic Arena, the Penguins opened the scoring in the first period on goals by Syl Apps at 3:59 and Bryan Watson at 11:40. (Interesting note: it would be the only goal scored by Watson that season).
Phil Roberto put the Blues on the scoreboard at 13:50, but Al McDonough restored the Penguins’ two-goal lead just 41 seconds later.
St. Louis rallied, however. Roberto’s second goal of the game at 1:58 of the second period made it 3-2 and Danny O’Shea tied it, 3-3, at 7:36. Then, 1:22 into the third period, Fran Huck scored to give the Blues a 4-3 lead.
That’s when the Penguins offense went to work.
McDonough notched his second goal of the game just 34 seconds after Huck scored to retie the game, 4-4. Greg Polis put the Penguins back on top, 5-4, at the 9:05 mark.
Then came the blitz against Blues goaltender Wayne Stephenson.
Bryan Hextall started it, tipping in a shot by Jack Lynch at 12:00 to make it 6-4. Eighteen seconds later Jean Pronovost scored off an assist from Polis to make it 7-4.
At 13:40, McDonough took a feed from Apps and completed his hat trick at 13:40 for an 8-4 Penguins lead. Nine seconds later, Ken Schinkel scored the Penguins’ ninth goal. Ron Schock then capped the uprising at 14:07.
Five goals. Two minutes, seven seconds. An NHL record.
Two teams have since come close to surpassing the Penguins’ fastest five-goal feat.
On Dec. 19, 1974, the Boston Bruins scored five times in a 2:55 span in an 11-3 win over the New York Rangers. Bobby Schmautz started the spree at 19:13 of the first period. Then, Ken Hodge (:18), Phil Esposito (:43), Don Marcotte (:58) and John Bucyk (2:08) scored in the second period to complete it.
Then, the New York Islanders netted five goals in a 2:37 span on Jan. 26, 1982 — ironically against the Penguins. Duane Sutter scored at 1:31 of the first period, followed by John Tonelli at 2:30, Bryan Trottier at 2:46 and 3:31 and Sutter again at 4:08. The Islanders won, 9-2. It was victory No. 3 of what would become a then-NHL record 15-game winning streak.
Still, while it has been challenged, no team has been able to top the record for the fastest five goals that the Penguins set 45 years ago.
Sports writer/copy editor/page designer for daily newspaper in northeastern Pennsylvania for almost 30 years. Adjunct professor, Communications, for 12 years at University of Scranton. Long Island native.