"Enthusiasm, hard work—Brent's added something to this team," says Trottier. One thing he has made possible is a line made up of three Islander first-round draft picks—Gillies in 1974, Duane in '79 and Brent in '80. During the 15 victories, Gillies had 10 goals and 13 assists, Duane seven and 15, Brent 15 and 12. Brent also got his first hat trick in Game 6, a 7-6 defeat of Washington. Duane assisted on all three of his brother's goals. Most important, Gillies came to life with his new linemates. He calls Duane "Dog" and Brent "Pup." Says Gillies, "They're fun, especially Dog. He's always yapping at the other team, getting us going. I think he's a little crazy." Asked if he had a name for the new line, Gillies said, "Sure. The Gillies Line."
Two lines alone, however, don't win 15 consecutive games. Throughout the run, the Islanders flaunted their nonpareil depth. Six players—Potvin, Tonelli, Trottier, Brent Sutter, Nystrom and Goring—scored at least one game-winning goal. Each of them also had two goals or more in at least one game, as did Bossy, Gillies, Bob Bourne, Duane Sutter, and Anders Kallur. Even Hector Marini, who dresses infrequently, had the first two-goal evening of his 42-game NHL career. Meanwhile, Smith allowed just 18 goals in winning nine games and lowered his goals-against average to 2.93, third best in the league. No. 2 net-minder Rollie Melanson went 6-0 and reduced his average to 3.33. Asked by a man with a microphone if he could single out the key to the Islander streak, Trottier said sure and handed the guy a team roster.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the skein was that it was in serious jeopardy only twice. Game 14, last week at Philadelphia, seemed lost when in the second period the Flyers struck for four goals in six minutes to open their 4-2 lead. "We wanted it so badly that sometimes our legs froze up," said Potvin later. Added Bossy, "It wasn't just the streak, but the idea that we were behind in a game we wanted." Late in the period, Bossy tipped home a shot by Potvin. Just 1:22 after that, Brent Sutter scored his second goal of the night on a 40-footer. Tie game. By then one could sense the 17,147 Flyer fanatics in the Spectrum knew what was coming. The only question was which Islander would deliver. At 7:08 into the third period, the answer came: Tonelli, on a stuff shot off a perfect 60-foot feed from Bossy, who had intercepted a clearing pass. Then, two nights later, with 47 seconds to play against Colorado, Tonelli did it again.
"It's one of the nice things that can happen in this game," said Tonelli, referring to the record. "And, by God, it happened because 22 Islanders were putting it all together for 15 games." Nobody had seen anything like it for 52 years.