Skip to main content
This Date in NHL History

Feb. 24: Wayne Gretzky sets season record for goals

Plus: United States defeats Finland to win Olympic gold medal; Steve Yzerman earns 1,000th NHL point

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / NHL.com Managing Editor

Memories: Gretzky scores 77th

Memories: Gretzky breaks Esposito's record

On February 24, 1982, Wayne Gretzky scores his 77th goal, breaking the single-season NHL record held previously by Phil Esposito

  • 01:33 •

THIS DATE IN HISTORY: Feb. 24

1982: Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers breaks Phil Esposito's single-season record for goals when he scores his 77th against goaltender Don Edwards and the Buffalo Sabres at Memorial Auditorium.

Gretzky enters the game with 76 goals, matching the mark set by Esposito in 1970-71. Edwards stops each of Gretzky's first seven shots on goal, but Gretzky steals the puck from forward Steve Patrick, avoids defenseman Richie Dunn's attempt to hook him and beats Edwards at 13:24 with a low shot from the slot to set the record. 

Gretzky scores again at 18:16 and 19:43 to complete a hat trick and lift the Oilers to a 6-3 victory.

Esposito is on hand to see his record broken.

"The only thing I felt nervous about," Gretzky said, "was that Phil had to be here, and I wanted him to get back to the things he had to do. That created all the pressure."

 

MORE MOMENTS

1938: Lester Patrick became the first NHL coach to have 250 NHL wins when the New York Rangers defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3 at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers became the fifth team in NHL history with 250 victories.

 

1968: Rod Gilbert of the Rangers sets an NHL record with 16 shots and scores on four of them in a 6-1 victory against the Montreal Canadiens at the Forum. It's the fourth NHL hat trick for Gilbert, a Montreal native. His record for shots on goal is broken on March 21, 1991, when Boston Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque has 19.

 

1978: Barry Beck of the Colorado Rockies scores his 18th goal, setting an NHL record for rookie defensemen. He surpasses the record of 17 set by Denis Potvin of the New York Islanders in 1973-74. The goal comes in a 3-2 victory against the Minnesota North Stars at McNichols Arena.

 

1980: The United States completes the "Miracle on Ice" by scoring three times in the third period to defeat Finland 4-2 in its final game at the Lake Placid Olympics, winning the gold medal for the first time in 20 years. Rob McClanahan's goal breaks a 2-2 tie, and Mark Johnson scores a late shorthanded goal.

 

1980: Gretzky, in his and Edmonton's first NHL season, becomes the first player in League history to score 100 points in a season prior to his 20th birthday. Point No. 100 is an assist in a 4-2 loss to the Bruins. It comes in his 61st NHL game.

 

1993: Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings reaches two milestones on the same night. Yzerman has a goal and three assists in a 10-7 road loss to the Sabres, giving him 1,000 points in his NHL career and 100 points for the sixth consecutive season.

 

2002: Canada wins its first Olympic gold medal in hockey since 1952 by defeating the U.S. 5-2 at Salt Lake City. Joe Sakic and Jarome Iginla each score two goals for Canada, and Martin Brodeur makes 33 saves.

View More