On October 15, 1989, Los Angeles Kings’ 28-year-old forward, Wayne Gretzky passed Gordie Howe’s record for points (1,850) in the third period of a 5-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
Gretzky started the game with 1,849 points, one short of Howe’s record. Less than five minutes into the first period he passed the puck to defenseman Tom Laidlaw, each earned an assist in a goal scored by forward Bernie Nicholls. The assist tied The Great One with Mr. Hockey’s record.
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The game was tied at three going into the third period where the Oilers pulled ahead. Despite obvious exhaustion and coach Tom Webster’s desire to bench his star player, Gretzky feels the need to stay in the game.
Webster pulled goalie Mario Gosselin with 1:10 left in the game and in less than 10 seconds the entire stadium to start chanting, “Gretzky! Gretzky!”
Gretzky crept out from behind the net where he often placed himself, finding himself in front of the net. He had five players with him on offence when the puck deflected off the leg of teammate Dave Taylor. It landed in front of Gretzky, who flipped and backhanded it. Oilers goalie, Bill Ranford was unable to defend his territory.
The game, witnessed by a sell-out crowd of 17,503 at Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton, turned into a sort-of home coming for Gretzky who previously played for the Oilers.
When the puck entered the net, he raised his stick and the Kings cleared their bench to celebrate. Photographers and league officials followed and Oilers fans gave a three-minute standing ovation. Former teammates were not far behind. Oiler, Mark Messier won four Stanley Cups with The Great One. They shared an embrace as another milestone was accomplished.
“We both started to get a little choked up,” Gretzky would say. “He was excited for me, but down deep he was upset that we tied the game. He would have been happier for me if they were winning.”
The game resumed after 15 minutes of celebration and went into overtime soon after. Once again Gretzky came out from behind the net to score, this time the game winning goal.