Bob Nystrom played more than 1,000 NHL games with the New York Islanders between the regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs, but one will always stand out.
It was May 24, 1980, a Sunday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum. Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Philadelphia Flyers was tied after three periods.
Somebody needed to be the hero.
At 7:11 of overtime, Nystrom skated into the Flyers zone with John Tonelli and backhanded the latter's feed past Flyers goalie Pete Peeters to give the Islanders their first of what would be four consecutive Stanley Cup championships.
Fans now have the opportunity to vote Nystrom's memorable goal as the Greatest NHL Moment Presented by Coors Light and Pepsi Zero Sugar.
"It was a great moment," Nystrom said. "I always think of it as I thank God for putting me in that position and given the opportunity to do something for my teammates that we all wanted to do. I was thrilled, and I couldn't do it for a better group of guys."
Video: Memories: Nystrom pots OT Stanley Cup-clinching goal
The play developed with center Lorne Henning sending a cross-ice feed in the neutral zone to Tonelli, who carried the puck just outside the Flyers blue line into the offensive zone with Nystrom. Tonelli made a perfect pass to the left side, where Nystrom quickly roofed it over Peeters to win the Cup.
"John Tonelli and I … if we didn't do 3,000 2-on-2s, it's just one of those days where it just worked out perfectly. Bob Dailey bit a little bit on John when he crossed over [the blue line], and I was able to get in behind him.
"But the thing I think about the most, and it's kind of the goat and the hero, I went in and I hit Bob Dailey really high and hard just before that goal. I always think if I had got a penalty there, I could have been the goat. I was just thankful that I was able to score that goal."
It was the beginning of a remarkable run that ultimately saw the Islanders win four consecutive Stanley Cup championships and 19 straight playoff series. They reached the Cup Final in 1984 before losing to the Edmonton Oilers in five games.
As part of the NHL's Centennial celebration, a blue-ribbon panel of broadcasters from NBC Sports Group, NHL Network, Sportsnet and TVA selected 64 moments. Fans can vote on them in a bracket-style tournament with four rounds, semifinals and a final.
Round 1 began last Wednesday and runs through Tuesday. The Greatest NHL Moment will be announced Dec. 16 at the Scotiabank NHL 100 Classic between the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, HNIC, TVA Sports, NHL.TV).
After being upset by the New York Rangers in the 1979 playoffs, the Islanders were feeling pressure to get over the hump. Had Nystrom not scored in Game 6 against the Flyers and if the Islanders had lost that series, perhaps the roster would have been broken up.
But Nystrom praised former Islanders general manager Bill Torrey and coach Al Arbour, who stayed the course and added another two key pieces late in the 1979-80 season that allowed the Islanders to evolve into a dynasty.
"I thought about that all the time," Nystrom said. "The thing is in '79 when we lost to the Rangers, I thought that they were going to break up the team. Thank God for Bill Torrey and Al Arbour and the fact that they had patience, and then we got Kenny Morrow and Butch Goring. These were two incredible guys, and it worked out pretty well for us.