Today in Hockey History: April 16

Blackhawks History, Bobby Orr, Bruins History, Capitals History, Column, Ed Belfour, Flyers History, Hockey History, Maple Leafs History, Mike Gartner, Red Wings History, Top Stories

April 16 is a huge date amongst the National Hockey League’s “Original Six” franchises, with four of them winning the Stanley Cup. There are also plenty of Hall of Fame players who left their mark on the game through the years. Let’s hop aboard the THW time machine and go back in time to relive all the best moments this date has had to offer.

Long Live the Champs

On April 16, 1939, the Boston Bruins knocked off the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. The win gave them their second Stanley Cup since the franchise joined the NHL at the start of the 1924-25 season. Roy Conacher had the game-winning goal, late in the second period, to become the first player to ever score game-winning goals in three straight games of the same playoff series.

A decade later, the Maple Leafs
completed a four-game sweep of the Detroit Red Wings on April 16, 1949, to
become the first NHL team to win three straight Stanley Cups. The win was their
ninth straight victory in the Final. They were also only the second team in
league history to win the Stanley Cup following a losing regular season,
something no team has done since.

The Red Wings won their second Stanley Cup in three seasons when they beat the Montreal Canadiens on April 16, 1954. Game 7 needed overtime to decide a winner and that’s when Tony Leswick added his name to playoff lore.

Leswick shot the puck towards the net from the right point, and it hit defenseman Doug Harvey’s glove and went right into the back of the net. This was the last time there was an overtime goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

On April 16, 1961, the Chicago Blackhawks won their first Stanly Cup since 1938 after beating the Red Wings 5-1 in Game 6 of the Final. The Cup-clinching victory came at the old Olympia, and it was the only win by a road team in the series.

Goaltending Heroics

On April 16, 1968, the Philadelphia Flyers beat the St. Louis Blues 2-1 in double overtime, with Don Blackburn scoring the game-winning goal. However, it was goaltender Bernie Parent who stole the show. The future Hall of Famer made 63 saves to lead the Flyers to their first-ever overtime playoff victory.

When Ron Hextall beat the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 16, 1996, he became the winningest goalie in Flyers’ playoff history. His 36 wins gave him one more than Parent. Hextall’s 45 Stanley Cup Playoff wins are still the most in franchise history.

Ed Belfour did everything he could to lead the Maple Leaf past the Flyers on April 16, 2003, but came up just short. Mark Recchi scored in double overtime to give the Flyers a 3-2 victory after Belfour made 72 saves. His performance is still the second-most saves ever made in a playoff game, just one behind Kelly Hrudey.

One year later, Belfour picked up the 14th and final playoff shutout of his career when he blanked the Ottawa Senators. He is still tied for seventh all-time in postseason shutouts with Jacques Plante and his former teammate, Dominik Hasek.

Stanley Cup Playoff Moments

On April 16, 1970, Bobby Orr scored twice to raise his playoff total to a new record of seven goals by a defenseman. He broke the mark of five he shared with the Blackhawks’ Earl Seibert (1938, 10 games) and Red Kelly (1954, 12 games) of the Red Wings. He scored nine goals that playoff run, which was a record for defenseman until Paul Coffey scored 12 in 1985.

Orr also became the first and only defenseman in NHL history to have goals in four straight playoff games, when he scored twice as the Bruins beat the New York Rangers 4-1, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Quarterfinals.

Bobby Orr
Orr was a force during the 1970 postseason. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

On April 16. 1988, the Washington Capitals completed one of the greatest comebacks in Stanley Cup playoffs history, not only in a game but in a series, as well. The Flyers took a 3-1 series lead in the Patrick Division Semifinals before the Capitals stormed back to force a Game 7. Philadelphia appeared to be in command by jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the deciding game. However, the Capitals came back, and Dale Hunter’s goal six minutes into overtime sent them on to the next round.

Wayne Gretzky made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut for the St. Louis Blues on April 16, 1996. He picked up assists on all three Blues’ goals in their 3-1 win at the Maple Leafs.

The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim won their first playoff game in franchise history by beating the Phoenix Coyotes on April 16, 1997. Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne each lit the lamp twice in the 4-2 victory.

Paul Kariya
Kariya played a big role in the Ducks’ first playoff win. (Photo by: Brian Bahr/Getty Images/NHLI)

On April 16, 2001, Ray Bourque set an NHL record by appearing in the playoffs for the 21st year. He broke the mark of 20 years shared by Larry Robinson and Gordie Howe in the Colorado Avalanche’s 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks.

The Columbus Blue Jackets made history on April 16, 2019, when they beat the Lightning to complete a four-game sweep in the first round. Not only was it the first playoff series win in Blue Jackets franchise history, but Tampa Bay became the first Presidents’ Trophy winner not to win a single postseason game.

Odds & Ends

Mike Gartner picked up his 500th career assist on April 16, 1992, in the Rangers’ 7-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. He became the first player in NHL history to get his 500th goal, 500th assist, 1,000th point, and play in his 1000th game all in the same season.

In this same game, Brian Leetch had a goal and three assists in that game to become just the fifth defenseman in NHL history to score 100 points in a season. The win was the Rangers’ 50th of the season, the most in franchise history at the time.

Also on that night, Brett Hull scored his 70th goal of the season in the Blues’ 5-3 win over the Minnesota North Stars. It was his third straight season with at least 70 goals. He and Gretzky are the only two players ever to accomplish that feat.

On April 16, 1998, Blackhawks’ blueliner Chris Chelios appeared in his 1,000th career NHL game, becoming the 128th player to appear in 1,000 NHL games. He played in 1,651 games before calling it a career, the most by any defenseman and seventh-most overall in NHL history.

Happy Birthday to You

There are 24 NHL players, past and present, who were born on this date. Among the most notable are Garry Galley (58), Boyd Devereaux (43), Peter Regin (35), Kyle Okposo (33), Jeremy Morin (30), Markus Granlund (28), Gemel Smith (27), John Quenneville (25) and Connor Bunnaman (23).

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