Valentine’s Day has been quite an eventful date in National Hockey League history. One of the greatest goal-scorers to ever skate experienced some highs and lows. The fans in Motown had plenty to cheer over the years. In addition to a trio of first NHL goals, this date in 2004 proved to be a memorable one. Let’s take our daily trip back through the decades and relive the best moments Feb. 14 has given us.
Mario Lemieux’s Up & Down Day
There is no debate that Lemieux is one of the greatest offensive players the NHL has ever seen. However, the biggest storyline on this date was when he didn’t find the scoresheet.
Lemieux scored his 18th career hat trick and added two assists, on Feb. 14, 1989, to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 7-3 win over the visiting Buffalo Sabres. This was one of 497 multi-point games during his career.
One year later, on Feb. 14, 1990, Lemieux made news in a rare night where he didn’t pick up at least one point. His 46-game point scoring streak, the second-longest in NHL history, came to an end in a 4-3 loss at the New York Rangers. However, it wasn’t the Blueshirts defense that ended the streak. A nagging back injury limited his ice time during the first two periods and caused him to sit out the entire third.
Things got much better for No. 66, one year later, when he became the first player in Penguins’ history to score 350 goals. His milestone came in a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders, Pittsburgh’s seventh win in an eventual team-record 11-game winning streak at the Civic Arena.
A Big Date in Detroit
The Detroit Red Wings busy Feb. 14 started in 1932 when goaltender Alec Connell picked up his 150th NHL victory by beating the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1. This extended the team’s home unbeaten streak to 15 straight games (12-0-3).
Gordie Howe scored two goals and added an assist, on Feb. 14, 1954, to give him 500 career points in a 5-0 win at the Blackhawks. It took him 492 games to join the 500-point club. Hall of Fame goaltender Terry Sawchuk earned the 43rd shutout of his career.
Rookie goaltender Jim Rutherford recorded his first career shutout, on Feb. 14, 1971, to lead the Red Wings to a 4-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Tommy Webster scored two goals and an assist, while Howe had three helpers.
Danny Grant scored his fifth and final career hat trick, and his only one with Detroit, on Feb. 14, 1975, in a 5-4 road loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
Steve Yzerman scored his 18th career hat trick and had two assists, on Feb. 14, 1993, in the Red Wings’ 5-3 win at the Blackhawks. Also, Tim Cheveldae became the fifth goaltender in franchise history to win 100 games.
Martin Lapointe scored his 100th career goal, on Feb. 14, 2001, in a 4-3 overtime victory over the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.
A Trio of First Goals
On Feb. 14, 1971, rookie Rick MacLeish scored the first goal of his NHL career in the Philadelphia Flyers’ 3-2 road loss at the Sabres.
Six years later, on Feb. 14, 1977, Al Hill had one of the most successful NHL debuts ever during the Flyers’ 6-4 win against the St. Louis Blues. Not only did he score a goal on both of his first two shots in the league, but he also had three assists. His five points tied the NHL record for the most by a player in his first game.
Jeremy Roenick scored the first goal of his NHL career, on Feb. 14, 1989, in a 4-2 Blackhawks’ win at the Minnesota North Stars. This was the first of 513 career goals, the first 267 of which were scored in Chicago.
An Eventful Night in 2004
There was a lot to love on Valentine’s Day 2004. Starting in Vancouver, where Sergei Fedorov had two assists in the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim’s 2-1 win over the Canucks. The two helpers made him the first Russian-born player to score 1,000 NHL points.
In Tampa Bay, Vincent Lecavalier became the Lightning’s all-time leader in points, with a goal and an assist in a 3-2 win over the visiting Florida Panthers. His two points gave him 302, two more than the former record-holder Brian Bradley.
A big night for goaltenders started when Mika Noronen became the 8th NHL netminder to be credited with a goal in a regular-season game. J.P. Dumont also scored a goal and added three assists in the Sabres’ 6-4 win at the Maple Leafs.
Sean Burke became the 20th goaltender in NHL history to win 300 career games, by leading the Flyers to a 6-2 victory over the rival Rangers.
Finally, Marc Denis set a Columbus Blue Jackets’ team record with 48 saves in a 2-1 in overtime to the visiting San Jose Sharks.
Odds & Ends
An NHL game hit the airwaves for the first time, on Feb. 14, 1923, when CFCA broadcasted the third period of the contest between the Toronto St. Patricks and Ottawa Senators.
In a historic first, on Feb. 14, 1931, three assists were awarded on one goal. Charlie Conacher scored, with assists given to King Clancy, Joe Primeau and Busher Jackson, in the Maple Leafs’ 1-1 tie with Detroit. Assists limited to just two players at the start of the 1936-37 season.
Fast-forwarding 50 years, on Feb. 14, 1981, Wilf Paiement scored his 200th career NHL goal and added two assists as the Maple Leafs won 6-3 over the visiting Rangers.
Wayne Gretzky had the third seven-assist game of his career, on Feb. 14, 1986, as he led the way in the Edmonton Oilers’ 8-2 win over the Quebec Nordiques.
Joe Mullen scored twice, including once on a penalty shot, on Feb. 14, 1987, to give him 200 NHL goals as the Calgary Flames won 3-2 at the North Stars.
One year later, on Feb. 14, 1988, Marcel Dionne passed Phil Esposito for second place on the league’s all-time goals list. He scored career goals 718 and 718, both on the power play, to pass Phil Esposito in the Rangers’ 4-4 tie with the Islanders.
The game between the Sabres’ 7-4 win over the Penguins, on this date in 1993, had a ton of action. Alexander Mogilny scored his 55th and 56th goals of the season to tie the Buffalo franchise record for the most in one season, set by Danny Gare in 1979-80. Pat LaFontaine had two goals and an assist to tie Lemieux for the NHL lead in points with 104. Also, defenseman Doug Bodger had three assists to reach 300 in his career.
On that same night, the Sharks beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 (no, this isn’t a West Side Story recap), to end their 17-game losing streak. Kelly Kisio was the hero with two goals and an assist. San Jose tied the 1974-75 Washington Capitals for the longest losing streak in NHL history.
Larry Murphy had an assist, on Feb. 14, 1995, in the Penguins’ 5-3 win over the Bruins. This gave him 916 career points and moved him ahead of Bobby Orr as the fifth-highest scoring defenseman in NHL history. On the losing side, Boston’s Cam Neely became the fifth player in franchise history to score 300 goals.
Jaromir Jagr set a Penguins’ team record with an assist in his 15th straight game, on Feb. 14, 2001, during a 2-1 win over the visiting Minnesota Wild. He broke the previous assist record of 14 games, held by Lemieux.
Also, on this night, Rick Tocchet scored a goal to pick up his 500th point as a member of the Flyers, during a 3-1 road win at the Islanders. He became the 11th player in team history to score 500 points.
Mike Knuble set the NHL record for the fastest two goals to start a game by one player, on Feb. 14, 2003, in the Bruins 6-5 win over the Panthers. He scored just 10 seconds after the opening draw before giving Boston a 2-0 just 27 seconds into the game.
Mike Green of the Capitals set a league record for a defenseman by scoring a goal in his eighth consecutive game, on Feb. 14, 2009, to lead his team to a 5-1 win at the Lightning. He broke the old record of goals in seven straight games set by Mike O’Connell of the Bruins during the 1983-84 season.
The Colorado Avalanche won 10th straight home game, on Feb. 14, 2018, behind Semyon Varlamov’s 44-save shutout of the visiting Canadiens. The 2-0 victory gave them the franchise’s longest home winning streak since the team relocated to Denver in 1995. They had two such streaks as the Nordiques in 1983-84 and again in 1994-95, their final season in Quebec City.
On that same evening, the Blue Jackets became just the second team in NHL history to put up at least 50 shots on goal in three straight games. They had 57 shots, but Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen made 54 saves in a 6-3 win. The only other team to have three straight games with 50 shots on goal or more was the 1954-55 Blackhawks.
Joe Thornton passed Teemu Selanne for 15th place on the NHL’s all-time points list, on Feb. 14, 2019, in the Sharks’ 5-1 loss to the Capitals. He picked up his 1,051st career assist which gave him 1,458 points.
Happy Birthday to You
A total of 36 current and former NHL players share a Valentine’s Day birthday. The most notable of the group are Charlie Burns (85), Walt Poddubny (61), Dave Lowry (56), Petr Svoboda (55), Calle Johansson (54), Sean Hill (51), Viktor Kozlov (46), Milan Hejduk (45), Marian Gaborik (39), Eric Nystrom (38), Tom Pyatt (34), Brandon Sutter (32), Petr Mrazek (29), John Hayden (26), Nikolaj Ehlers (25) and the late Murph Chamberlain.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.