The wait lasted three agonizing weeks.
Lanny McDonald hadn't found his way onto the scoresheet since Feb. 15, 1989, a day shy of his 36th birthday, ignoring a broken nose and seven stitches caused by an errant high stick to record career point No. 999 - a second-period assist - at the old Winnipeg Arena.
He'd been stuck on that total ever since.
But with the Winnipeg Jets in town on March 7, in front of 19,375 of his nearest and dearest on home ice at the Saddledome, McDonald made history.
He always had been a man for the moment.
Only 2:46 into proceedings, the Flames' beloved right-winger rooted out a loose puck, swung around the net and slung a wraparound behind rookie goaltender Bob Essensa to reach the 1,000 mark for a career.
The crowd rose as a single entity in salute. The 36-year-old McDonald - now the 23rd man in NHL history to reach the milestone - immediately punched the air in joy, and relief.
"I had a lot of chances in the last while,'' he sighed contentedly afterwards, "and I just couldn't put in in the net.
"I just hope the next 1,000 don't take this long."
He'd score again that night, pushing him to 495 goals.
Given his age, diminishing role on a deep, talented roster and the Flames gearing up for a serious Stanley Cup run, another emotional chase had been joined.
"Definitely,'' McDonald claimed, "I don't think 500 is out of reach."
Others wondered whether or not it just might be.
"I wasn't playing that much,'' he recalls now, 28 years later. "If I'm not mistaken, I only had four goals through the first half or three-quarters of the season.
"Then one of the right-wingers got hurt, and Crispie had to play me on the second/third line. All of a sudden I get on a roll, as goal-scorers do, and I think I scored seven goals in something like 11 games."
Capped by March 21. On an eerily near-identical play to the one that had notched Point No. 1,000, McDonald scored on a wraparound against goaltender Mark Fitzpatrick of the NY Islanders.
"I don't care how it came, it was just an unbelievable feeling of peace,'' he said post-game. "I never doubted I could do it. I told my wife (Ardell) that if there were seven games left and I needed seven goals, that'd I get them.
"I don't know how many I've scored on that play. Maybe 25 or 30. I started it in Toronto and perfected it in Colorado."
After connecting for the historic goal, 10:54 into the first period, the game stopped briefly as McDonald took a impromptu victory lap and the crowd chanted "Lan-NY! Lan-NY! La-NY!" in his honour.
The ovation lasted three full minutes.
No. 500 would be the final regular-season strike of a Hall-of-Fame career.
But there'd be one, even more vital, goal to be cashed before bidding a final farewell …