January 29, 1971 -- There were two big reasons to watch the Buffalo Sabres in their first year as an NHL team in 1970-71. Roger Crozier was good for a few acrobatic saves a night. And Gilbert Perreault would do something spectacular at least once or twice per night.
Perreault must have been pretty good on this night. He had a hat trick in the Sabres' game against California.
Too bad most Sabres fans didn't get to see it, since the contest was played in Oakland. Perreault opened the scoring with the only goal of the first period. Donnie Marshall added a power-play goal in the second period for Buffalo. And Perreault made 3-1 early in the third. After the Golden Seals closed to within 3-2 with a goal in the last minute, Perreault ended the game's suspense with an empty-netter with 26 seconds left.
Not only was it Perreault's first such three-goal game in the NHL, but it was the Sabres' first as well. The win was part of a 2-0-1 unbeaten streak the team had on a West Coast swing.
Perreault wasn't done scoring at that point. He went on to tally 512 goals in the NHL and ended up in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
--- Budd Bailey