January 23, 2007

1979 Challenge Cup - Game One

Game One: Party in Manhattan

The game opened up with a long pre-game ceremonial show. The Canadian, American and Soviet anthems were played before 17, 438 fans. Bobby Orr then hobbled out to center ice to drop the ceremonial first puck. The teams then exchanged gifts, as is customary in international hockey.

Team NHL jumped out to a quick lead. A line of Steve Shutt, Bobby Clarke and Guy Lafleur won the opening faceoff and quickly advanced into the Soviet zone. Somehow Lafleur, generally considered to be the most dangerous offensive player for Team NHL, was somehow left all alone. Clarke was able to shovel the puck in his direction. Lafleur calmed the puck and streaked in on Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretiak. Lafleur deposited the puck past Tretiak on the near side just 16 seconds into the game.

The goal was the fastest ever scored in NHL-Soviet exhibition games. It also proved to be the devastating blow of the game, as the Soviets never recovered from the first play of the game.

Mike Bossy finished off a dazzling Gilbert Perreault play at 6:22. Perreault zoomed down center ice and split the Soviet defense, only to surprise everyone with a behind the back pass to an open Bossy who simply tipped the puck into the net.

The quick start by Team NHL was strikingly reminiscent of Team Canada's quick start against the Soviets in the 1972 Summit Series. In the opening game in 1972 Canada scored 30 seconds into the game and scored 6 minutes later to take a convincing 2-0 lead. However the Soviets calmed down and proceed to shock Team Canada with a 7-3 victory.

The Soviets would not be able to repeat those feats in 1979. Team captain Boris Mikhailov banged in a rebound at 11:25, but Bob Gainey replied minutes later. Gainey, once called the best player in the world by the Soviets, muscled his way past two Soviet defensemen and flipping the puck over Tretiak's left shoulder.

Clark Gillies finished off a strong Mike Bossy effort to give the NHL a 4-1 lead in the second period. Vladimir Golikov rounded out the scoring early in the third period.

Not surprisingly, the NHL dressing room was full of joy and confidence. The only person who seemed to be cautioning reporters was team general manager Bill Torrey. "You wait and see. The Russians can adjust. They're in this to be the best...and they can adjust. You'll see."

February 8, 1979 - NHL All Stars 4 - USSR 2

First Period
1-NHL Guy Lafleur (Bobby Clarke, Steve Shutt) 0:16
2-NHL Mike Bossy (Gilbert Perreault, Guy Lafleur) 6:42
3-USSR Boris Mikhailov (Valeri Vasiliev, Valeri Kharlamov 11:25
4-NHL Bob Gainey (Bill Barber, Barry Beck) 15:48
Penalties: Viktor Zhluktov 0:59, Vladimir Petrov 5:13, Lanny McDonald 8:31, Clark Gillies 10:59, Viktor Zhluktov 12:21

Second Period
5-Clark Gillies (Mike Bossy) 8:14
Penalties: Gennady Tsygankov 10:58

Third Period
6-USSR Vladimir Golikov (Aleksandr Golikov, Sergei Makarov) 3:02
Penalties: None

Shots on goal:
Soviet Union: 6 5 9 - 20
NHL All Stars: 10 9 5 - 24

Vladislav Tretiak (20/24) 60 minutes, 4 goals against
Ken Dryden (18/20) 60 minutes, 2 goals against

Attendance 17,438 at New York

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