|Gilbert Perreault at the 1978 NHL All-Star Game
January 24, 1978 provided a few firsts for the National Hockey League.
Primarily, it marked the first time that the All-Star Game was played in Buffalo, NY.
It was also, up to that point, the only day in NHL history that the event was decided by overtime.
Memorial Auditorium was buzzing with a sold-out crowd as fans packed into the building to get a glimpse at the best the League had to offer. More importantly, the Western New Yorkers wanted to see how a pair of representatives from Buffalo would fare.
Gilbert Perreault and Rick Martin were playing on behalf of the Wales Conference – and the crowd responded with a standing ovation for the center as his name was announced prior to the game.
Things, however, quickly took a turn.
Campbell Conference All-Stars Bill Barber (PHI) and Denis Potvin (NYI) each registered a goal in the opening frame, to take a 2-0 lead. It wasn't the start the crowd was looking for.
In the second period, the Wales All-Stars responded by coming out firing - peppering their opponent with 16 shots while holding their opponent to just two shots on goal. Yet it wasn’t until Darryl Sittler (TOR) capitalized on the power play with just 30 seconds left in the second frame that Wales finally got on the board.
After that, the hometown players took over.
With Wales still down by one goal, it looked like the Campbell Conference would come out on top. But with 1:39 remaining in the game, Buffalo’s Rick Martin – who had played in every All-Star game up to that point since entering the League in 1971 – jammed in a rebound to tie it up at 2-2.
History was made as regulation ended, and the game went to overtime.
The fans were on their feet as the extra frame got underway. Fortunately they did not have to wait long for results.
Gilbert Perreault thrilled the crowd and surprised his teammates 3:55 into the period, after he attempted to make a pass and ended up scoring the overtime goal, sealing the win for the Wales Conference.
He then received his second standing ovation of the night.