Today’s trip through National Hockey League history starts in the heart of the Big Apple. From there, we spent some time in the crease before reliving a memorable night in 1997. Shutouts, hat tricks and broken records are all part of the biggest moments Feb. 26 has given us over the years.
New York Rangers Play the Hits on Broadway
The Rangers’ success on this date started in 1969 when Walt Tkaczuk tied a team record for most assists by a rookie when he had four in a 5-3 win over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.
Rookie Darren Turcotte scored his second career hat trick, on Feb. 26, 1990, to lead the Rangers to a 6-1 win over the Boston Bruins. This completed a sweep of the three-game season series between these two old rivals. It was the first time the Blueshirts swept a season series with the Bruins since entering the NHL in 1926.
Mark Messier lit the lamp, on Feb. 26, 2001, during the Rangers’ 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators. This made him just the fourth player in league history to score at least 20 goals in a season at the age of 40.
One year later, Brian Leetch became the ninth defenseman in NHL history to score 900 career points with an assist on Eric Lindros’ goal in the Rangers’ 4-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils.
The Rangers completed another season sweep, on Feb. 26, 2004, as they beat the New York Islanders for the sixth time, 6-3. Jaromir Jagr scored and had add assist to reach 25 goals for the 14th time in his career.
The winningest goaltender in Rangers history, Henrik Lundqvist, had a big moment on the international stage. On Feb. 26, 2006, he made 25 saves to lead Sweden to the gold medal with a 3-2 victory over Finland, in Torino, Italy. Nicklas Lidstrom scored the game-winning goal in the opening seconds of the third period.
Goaltenders Own the Day
George Hainsworth recorded his 18th shutout of the season, and the 45th of his career, on Feb. 26, 1929, to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Howie Morenz was the offensive hero with two goals and an assist.
Another Canadiens’ all-time great, Bill Durnan, became the first goaltender in team history to win 30 games in one season, on this date in 1944. Defenseman Mike McMahon led the scoring with a goal and four assists in a 10-2 blowout of the visiting Bruins.
Gerry Cheevers extended his NHL-record unbeaten streak to 25 straight games (19-0-6), on Feb. 26, 1972, as the Bruins beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-4. Phil Esposito did his part with a goal and two assists.
Back to Montreal, where on Feb. 26, 1975, Ken Dryden recorded his 100th NHL victory in the Canadiens’ 4-3 win against the visiting Vancouver Canucks. Rookie Doug Risebrough had two goals and an assist.
On Feb. 26, 1984, Mario Gosselin became the 16th goaltender in NHL history to have a shutout in his debut. He stopped all 26 shots he faced in leading the Quebec Nordiques to a 5-0 win over the St. Louis Blues.
Patrick Lalime became the first Ottawa Senators goaltender to have a 25-win season, on Feb. 26, 2001, with a 3-2 victory at the Rangers.
Nikolai Khabibulin became the fourth European-born goaltender to win 200 NHL games, on Feb. 26, 2004, when the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs. Brad Richards played a big part in this milestone with two goals and an assist.
Ben Bishop knows all about calling his real estate agent on this date as he was traded twice on Feb. 26. First, in 2012, he was traded by the Blues, the team who drafted him, to the Senators for a second-round draft pick. St. Louis used that pick to select Thomas Vannelli, who never played in the NHL. Exactly five years later, Bishop was traded by the Lightning to the Kings, for Peter Budaj and Erik Cernak.
Jordan Binnington picked up his 12th win of the month, on Feb. 26, 2019, by blanking the Nashville Predators 2-0. This matched the Blues’ franchise record for the most wins by a goaltender in a single month and improved his career record to 15-2-1. The shutout was his fifth in 18 starts, joining the legendary Jacques Plante as the only two netminders in the modern era to have five shutouts in their first 18 starts.
A Big Night in 1977
This eventful evening started in Montreal, where Guy Lafleur had an assist to extend the Habs’ team-record home undefeated streak to 25 games (20-0-5) with a 5-3 win over the Cleveland Barons. The helper gave Lafleur 100 points for the third straight season.
J. P. Parise scored his 200th career goal in the Islanders’ 8-2 win over the Atlanta Flames. Also, in the big win, Clark Gillies, Denis Potvin and Lorne Henning combined to set a new team record with three goals within a span of 45 seconds.
Finally, rookie Brian Sutter scored the first goal of his NHL career, in the Blues’ 5-1 loss to the visiting Philadelphia Flyers. This was the first of his 303 career goals, all scored with St. Louis.
Odds & Ends
Brothers Doug and Max Bentley had a night to remember, on Feb. 26, 1947, in the Blackhawks’ 9-7 win at the Rangers. The duo combined for 10 total points with Doug scoring four goals and adding two assists, while Max had three goals and a helper.
Doug Harvey picked up his 41st assists of the season, on Feb. 26, 1955, in the Canadiens’ 4-1 home win over the Bruins. This broke Babe Pratt’s single-season record for assists by a defenseman, set with the Maple Leafs during the 1943-44 season.
Speaking of the Maple Leafs, on Feb. 26, 1966, Frank Mahovlich became the first player in franchise history to score 250 goals. The milestone came in a 3-2 win over the visiting Bruins, which also saw Boston’s John Bucyk scored his 200th NHL goal.
The Canadiens had quite the adventure, on Feb. 26, 1967, just getting to the Chicago Stadium. After their charter bus failed to show up, the team got to their game with the help of some taxis, police cruisers and a paddy wagon. The Canadiens and Blackhawks skated to a 2-2 once they finally made it to the rink.
Defenseman Brad Park scored on a power play for the 200th goal of his NHL career, of Feb. 26, 1984, and picked up an assist in the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 win at the Blackhawks.
Tony Tanti scored twice and an assist, on Feb. 26, 1987, in the Canucks’ 5-4 at the Red Wings. His two goals made him the first player in franchise history to score 30 or more in four straight seasons.
Mario Lemieux became just the third player in league history to have 100 assists in a season, on Feb. 26, 1989, when he had three in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 8-6 loss to the Hartford Whalers. He joined Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky as the only players to have 100-assist campaigns.
Eric Lindros set a Flyers’ team record with six assists, on Feb. 26, 1997, in an 8-5 win at the Senators. LeClair chipped in with his sixth career hat trick and an assist.
On that same night, Doug Gilmour made an immediate impact in his debut with the Devils, by scoring a goal and adding three assists in a 5-3 road victory at the Islanders.
Pavel Bure scored two goals, including the first penalty-shot in Florida Panthers’ franchise history, on Feb. 26, 1999, during a 5-5 tie with the Red Wings.
Brett Hull played in his 1,000th NHL game, on Feb. 26, 2001, appropriately at the Calgary Flames, with who he began his career. The Flames spoiled the big night by beating the Dallas Stars 3-2.
Alex Ovechkin played in his 984th game with the Washington Capitals, on Feb. 26, 2018, passing defenseman Calle Johansson for the most played in team history. He went on to score a goal in a 5-1 road win at the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Happy Birthday to You
Joe Mullen, who turns 64 today, had the most successful career out of the 26 NHL players born on this date. Other Feb. 26 birthday boys are P.J. Axelsson (46), Marty Reasoner (44), Mikael Granlund (29), Barclay Goodrow (28), Jacob Trouba (27) and Victor Soderstrom (20).
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.