This Day in Sports History: Bob Nystrom’s OT Winner


Bob Nystrom’s Stanley Cup Winning Goal

On May 24, 1980, Bob Nystrom and his New York Islanders clinched the Stanley Cup in dramatic overtime fashion on their home ice. How did this decisive win happen? Let’s take a look.

The 1980 Stanley Cup Final brought together the Islanders (relative newcomers at the time, having come into the league in 1972), and the Philadelphia Flyers (a little more established, cropping up in 1967). This was the first finals appearance for the Islanders and the fourth for the Flyers.

What wound up being the last game of the playoffs saw the Islanders ahead in Game 6 of the best-of-seven series 3 to 2 at their home arena, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, in front of a raucous crowd. Hoping to avoid heading back to Philly for Game 7, they were keen to clinch a win at home.

Bob Nystrom, a native of Sweden, was selected by the Islanders in their first draft in 1972. The third-rounder, who was raised in Canada, initially had poor skating skills despite his other impressive hockey skills that caught the attention of the Islanders. He actually needed power skating lessons his rookie year, only appearing in 11 games, before finding a regular roster spot on the team the following season. He quickly became a fan favorite and helped the fledgling franchise rise to title contention, with five consecutive playoff appearances before the 1980 finals.

Game 6 took place on Saturday, May 24. It was Memorial Day weekend, and the hot and humid weather outdoors left the interior of the Nassau Coliseum steamy and the ice slushy. The first period ended in a 2-2 tie and wasn’t without drama, as Nystrom wound up in the penalty box for 10 minutes for misconduct.

The Islanders scored two goals in the second period and headed to the third period with a lead in hand and the Stanley Cup within reach. Unfortunately for them, the Flyers fired back and notched two goals before the third period ended, leading to overtime play.

Nystrom, who was relatively refreshed due to his 10-minute penalty box break back in the first period, wound up being the hero of the game. The Stanley Cup was clinched at the 7:11 mark in overtime, as teammate John Tonelli passed the puck to Nystrom, who deflected it into the net.

The New York Islanders’ first Stanley Cup win wasn’t their last. In fact, they rattled off three more consecutive Stanley Cup victories over the next three seasons, cementing the squad into one of NHL’s finest dynasties.

If you’re an Islanders fan hoping to see the franchise return to the glory days of the early ’80s, and you support your team through thick and thin, head over to to grab your gear before the next NHL season rolls around.




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