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After 25 years, Gretzky not tired of talking about 50 goals in 39 games
Joanne Ireland, Edmonton Journal
Published: Friday, December 22, 2006


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The record-setting moments are many, but there is one that is particularly special to Wayne Gretzky.

To this day, scoring 50 goals in 39 games stands out in the Great One's memory -- a milestone that will be celebrated on Dec. 30, the 25th anniversary of his feat.

"People ask me all the time about my records, but to me, that's my favourite," he said on Thursday before his Phoenix Coyotes took on the Edmonton Oilers.

"They're all made to be broken, that's what sports is. That's what's so great about sports, but that's my favourite because I think that will be the hardest to break."

The night of the record, Gretzky and the Oilers were hosting Philadelphia. Pete Peeters was in net for the Flyers in a 7-5 loss. Five of those goals were scored by Gretzky, including the record-setting empty-netter.

"That night when I scored the first goal, it was a fluky goal, a shot off the back boards. The puck came to me on the other side and I threw it at the net and it went in," Gretzky continued.

"And I always felt if I got an early goal that I could get on a roll. I scored the third goal on a breakaway, got the fourth, then before I scored the fifth goal in an empty net I probably had three or four point-blank chances Peeters stopped. I probably should have had seven or eight goals that night.

"It was just one of those things that once I got the fourth, I knew I was going to get five -- even if I had to pick the puck up and throw it in."

The record had mattered enough to Gretzky that after he had scored 28 goals in 24 games, he did not want to finish with 50 in 51. At the very least, he wanted to tie the record of 50 in 50.

"Going into that game I was at 45 in 38 so I really felt confident that I was at least going to get 50 in 50. I just didn't anticipate scoring five goals that night, especially back then. Philadelphia was one of the better defensive-minded teams in the NHL," he recalled.

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