Rookie goaltender Gilles Meloche got the start for the Golden Seals, while veteran Gilles Villemure got the call for New York.
The Golden Seals came into the game with a 6-11-3 record and had lost five of their previous six games. Meanwhile the host Rangers were 13-2-4 and had just lost their previous game 4-1 the day before in Minnesota, snapping a a 6 game winning streak and a 14 game unbeaten streak.
Jean Ratelle opened the scoring for the Rangers 4:11 into the contest with assists from Rod Gilbert and defenseman Dale Rolfe with his 11th goal of the season. Vic Hadfield's 14th goal of the season at 14:59 from Brad Park and Gilbert made it 2-0 for the Rangers after the first period.
The Rangers extended their lead to 3-0 at 4:06 when left winger Ted Irvine scored his third goal of the season from Rod Seiling and new arrival Gene Carr, who had just recently arrived from the St. Louis Blues. Ratelle then scored his second goal of the night at 13:42 from Hadfield and Jim Neilson to extend the Rangers advantage to 4-0 before the Golden Seals showed some signs of life when right winger Norm Ferguson got California on the board when he beat Villemure at 17:53 from future Ranger Carol Vadnais and Gary Jarrett to make the score 4-1 for New York at the end of the second.
Ratelle completed his hat trick just 41 seconds into the third period, again from Gilbert and Rolfe. A little over a minute later Irvine had his second goal of the night when he beat Meloche at 1:56 from Bruce MacGregor and Carr.
Less than two minutes later, Ratelle had his fourth goal of the game and 14th of the season from Hadfield and Gilbert as all three members of the GAG line combined for the seventh Rangers goal at 3:40. Team captain Hadfield, center Ratelle and right wing Gilbert were known as the GAG line, which was an acronym for Goal-A-Game, and no doubt combining for five goals on the night certainly helped maintain their average for the season!
Carr, already with two assists, scored at 6:44 from Seiling and Neilson for the fourth Rangers goal of the period as the rout was well and truly on as New York now led 8-1.
The next to join the fun for the Rangers was rookie Pierre Jarry, who scored the first goal of his career at 11:03 from Walt Tkaczuk and Neilson. They stayed out on the ice for the subsequent faceoff, which was won by Tkaczuk, who got the puck to Jarry. He crossed the Golden Seals blueline and fired a shot past Meloche for the second goal of his career - just a mere five seconds after his first one! With the Rangers now leading 10-1, California head coach Vic Stasiuk mercifully, and finally, pulled Meloche, who had given up 10 goals on 40 shots against.
Lyle Carter was the unfortunate backup goaltender who had to come in and face the red hot New York onslaught with just under 9 minutes remaining. At 12:27, just 1:19 after coming into the game, Carter gave up the 11th Rangers goal when Carr scored his second of the period from MacGregor and Park with Vadnais in the penalty box for the Golden Seals - remarkably the first power play goal of the game out of the dozen combined goals scored up to that point.
The final nail in the Golden Seals coffin arrived with just 36 seconds left in the game when Bill Fairbairn scored the eighth Rangers goal of the period from Seiling and Tkaczuk at 19:24 for a final score of 12-1 for New York.
Villemure got the easy win for the Rangers after making 15 saves on 16 shots, while Carter made 10 saves on 12 shots. Combined with the 40 Meloche endured, New York peppered the Golden Seals net with a total of 52 shots for the game.
Ratelle was the star of the night with his four goals, while Carr had 2 goals and 2 assists for 4 points of his own. Hadfield (1 goal and 2 assists), Gilbert (3A), Seiling (3A), Neilson (3A) and Tkaczuk (3A) all had three points on the night, while five others had 2 points among the 13 Rangers who registered a point on the night, with special mention going to the rookie Jarry's first two career goals scored just five seconds apart.
As bad as the night was for California, they would rebound with a 6-1 win in their next game against the Detroit Red Wings and avoid any extended losing streaks, save for dropping their final six games of the season, finishing with a 21-39-18 record, good for 6th place in the 7 team West Division with 60 points, just 7 back of third place St. Louis.
Meanwhile, the Rangers went 48-17-13 for 109 points, second best in the league behind only the Boston Bruins 119.
The playoff format of the day saw the teams cross-over from East and West Divisions in the Semifinals, which was done in order to create a more competitive Stanley Cup Final, as the previous format had led to three straight blowouts from 1968 to 1970.
In 1972, the Rangers defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4 games to 2 and then swept the Chicago Black Hawks in 4 straight to advance to the Finals against the Bruins, who defeated the Rangers in six games.
Ratelle (109 points), Hadfield (106) and Gilbert (97), would finish 3-4-5 in league scoring that season, while Villemure's 2.09 goals against average was second in the NHL that season.
Today's featured jersey is a 1971-72 New York Rangers Jean Ratelle jersey. The Rangers debuted in 1926 wearing jerseys not too dissimilar to the one worn by Ratelle in 1971-72. The original white lettering changed to red for their second season of play. The font still used for the cresting arrived in 1941 and the drop shadow on both the crest and the numbers came a year later. In 1951 the laces were added to the collar and they arrived at today's featured style when the sleeve numbers arrived in 1963.
This style would be used through 1975-76 before a new, modern jersey was worn for two seasons with the Rangers shield as the main crest In 1978-79, this style returned, only with Rangers replaced by "New York" on the front until reverting back to "Rangers" in 1987.
The Seals debuted with jerseys that were green and blue with white trim from 1967-68 to 1969-70. For the 1970-71 season, new owner Charlie O. Finley changed the team colors to green and gold to match his Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball, including having his team wear white skates at first to match the white shoes worn by the A's.
This style would remain in use for four seasons under Finley's ownership until the colors were once again changed from kelly green to teal and yellow for the team's final two seasons in Oakland.
Extra extra bonus jersey: Today's extra extra bonus jersey is a 1980 NHL All-Star Game Jean Ratelle jersey as worn in the game played in Detroit. It was the fifth and final All-Star Game of Ratelle's career. Ratelle had an assist in the game on a goal by Craig Hartsburg in a 6-3 winning effort by the Wales Conference.
First in today's video segment, linemates Hadfield and Gilbert discuss the GAG line they were on with Ratelle.