This date in National Hockey League history has provided us with a little bit of everything. There were broken records, personal milestones, plenty of hat tricks and one very eventful night in 1993. Let’s take our daily trip back in time to enjoy all the best moments March 20 has given us over the years.
Bobby Hull Has a Huge Date
Bobby Hull of the Chicago Blackhawks entered the final game of the regular season on March 20, 1960, trailing Bronco Horvath of the Boston Bruins by one point for the scoring title as the two teams met at Boston Garden. Horvath was injured in the first period while Hull had a goal and an assist during a 5-5 tie to win his first Art Ross Trophy.
Nine years later, on March 20, 1969, the Blackhawks and Bruins skated to another 5-5 tie. Hull scored two goals to give him an NHL-record 55 on the season. His second goal broke his own record of 54 he set during the 1965-66 season. He also became the NHL’s second 100-point scorer just 19 days after Phil Esposito of the Bruins was the first player to hit triple digits in a season.
Boston Bruins Greats Make History
Goaltender Frank Brimsek made 27 saves and the Bruins had 50 shots on goal on March 20, 1941, as they opened their Stanley Cup Semifinals series with a 3-0 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
On the same night Hull scored his 55th goal, Bobby Orr made history as well. The legendary blueliner celebrated his 21st birthday by scoring his 21st goal of the season. This set the single-season record for goals by a defenseman, breaking the old mark set by Flash Hollett during the 1944-45 season. The historic goal game with just one second left in the third period to force the 5-5 draw.
Johnny Bucyk picked up two assists, on March 20, 1971, in a 5-3 victory over the visiting Philadelphia Flyers. The two helpers gave him 107 points, tying the single-season NHL record for scoring by a left wing. The win was Boston’s 13th in a row and extended their undefeated streak on home ice to 27 games (26-0-1).
Two new team records were set on March 20, 1993, during a 7-4 loss at the Detroit Red Wings. Ray Bourque picked up his 795th career assist, passing Bucyk for the most in team history. Adam Oates set the team record for the most assists in a season by a center when recorded No. 78.
A Busy Night in 1993
The two records set by the Bruins’ Hall of Famers was just the beginning of a night to remember in 1993. In that same game, John Ogrodnick of the Red Wings scored twice to become the 42nd player in NHL history to score 400 career goals.
In Pittsburgh, Mario Lemieux scored four goals for the second straight game to lead the Penguins to a 9-3 win over the rival Flyers. Two nights early, he dropped four on the Washington Capitals in a 7-5 victory.
Brett Hull scored his 50th goal for the fourth straight season in the St. Louis Blues 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. Tomas Sandstrom scored in his first night back after missing 21 games with a broken jaw to give the Kings their 500th win in franchise history. Luc Robitaille scored a goal in his 10th straight game and became the first player to lit the lamp against 22 teams in one season.
Alexander Mogilny scored his 70th and 71st goals of the season, while Pat LaFontaine picked up three assists in a 3-1 Buffalo Sabres’ win at the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Patrice Brisebois scored the 9,000th goal in Montreal Canadiens franchise history, while Kirk Muller scored a goal and added three assists in a 6-2 win over the Blackhawks.
Defenseman Uwe Krupp scored a goal and added four assists to lead the New York Islanders to a 7-2 win at the Vancouver Canucks.
Hat Tricks on the Menu
Maurice Richard scored his 14th career hat trick on March 20, 1948, with three goals in three different ways. He scored at even strength, a power-play goal and one while shorthanded during a 7-4 Canadiens’ win against the Blackhawks. Montreal set a single-game league record with three shorthanded goals. Eight years later, he extended his Stanley Cup record with his fifth career playoff hat trick, including the game-winning goal, as the Canadiens won 7-1 beat the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals.
Ted Lindsay scored his fourth career hat trick on March 20, 1955, and had two assists to lead the Red Wings to a 6-0 win over the Canadiens. Terry Sawchuk tied his own team record with his ninth straight victory and became the first NHL goaltender to have three 40-win seasons in his career.
Rookie Bernie Nicholls became the first player in Kings’ history to score hat tricks in consecutive games on March 20, 1982, in a 7-5 win against the Penguins.
Mike Bossy scored his 37th career hat trick and had an assist on March 20, 1986, while Denis Potvin picked up four assists as the New York Islanders beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-1.
Tony Tanti scored his sixth career hat trick, including an overtime goal to lead the Canucks to a 6-5 win against the visiting Winnipeg Jets. Included was his 68th career power-play goal, a new team record.
Eric Lindros scored his second consecutive hat trick on March 20, 1995, as the Flyers won 8-4 over the visiting Canadiens. He became the second player in franchise history to score three or more goals in back-to-back games.
On that same night, Jason Arnott picked up his first career hat trick, with David Oliver and Doug Weight each earning three assists as the Edmonton Oilers won 5-2 over the visiting Calgary Flames.
Odds & Ends
On March 20, 1918, the Toronto Arenas, now the Maple Leafs, became the first NHL team to play for the Stanley Cup. Reg Noble had two goals and an assist as they beat the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey League 5-3 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Future Hall of Famer Frank Mahovlich played in his first NHL game on March 20, 1957, when the Maple Leafs lost 2-1 to the Canadiens.
Two brothers faced each other as opposing goaltenders for the first time on March 20, 1971, when Ken Dryden and the Canadiens beat Dave Dryden and the Sabres 5-2. Neither brother started the game, but Ken was called into duty after Rogie Vachon was injured in the second period. Buffalo coach Punch Imlach immediately pulled starter Joe Daley and inserted Dave for the historic moment.
Guy Lafleur scored a goal to extend his NHL record 23-game point streak on March 29, 1977, in the Canadiens’ 6-1 win against the Blues. One year later, he became the seventh player in team history to score 300 career goals during a 5-1 win at Vancouver.
Also, on March 20, 1978, Bernie Parent became the 13th goaltender in NHL history to record 250 career victories, as the Flyers won 4-2 over the visiting Islanders.
Phil Esposito scored to reach the 40-goal mark for the eighth time in his career on March 20, 1979, to tie Bobby Hull for the most 40-goal seasons in NHL history. His goal earned the Rangers a point in a 2-2 tie with the Capitals.
Bryan Trottier scored twice on March 20, 1986, to become the second player in Islanders franchise history to score 350 goals. He also had an assist in New York’s 5-2 win over the visiting New Jersey Devils.
On that same evening, Marcel Dionne picked up an assist to move into second place on the all-time NHL scoring list, passing Esposito, with his 1,591st career point when the Kings lost 6-3 at the Bruins.
In Philadelphia on this night, Tim Kerr became the first Flyer to record three consecutive 50-goal seasons in a 5-1 win over the Penguins. This was head coach Mike Keenan’s 100th victory in his 152nd game, the second-fastest in NHL history.
Paul Coffey became the first defenseman in NHL history to score 100 points in a season with two teams on March 20, 1989, when he was credited with an assist in the Penguins’ 7-2 loss at the Minnesota North Stars.
Wayne Gretzky scored twice on March 20, 1994, to tie Gordie Howe’s all-time goals record with 801 during the Los Angles Kings’ 6-6 tie with the San Jose Sharks.
Bourque scored the final regular-season goal of his remarkable career on March 20, 2001, in the Colorado Avalanche’s 4-1 win against the Sharks. This was the 410th goal of his career, still the all-time record for defensemen.
The number 30 was wild on March 20, 2004, as Mats Sundin scored his 30th goal of the season for the 11th time in his career as the Maple Leafs won 5-2 against the visiting Avalanche. The victory marked the ninth 30-win season in the career of goaltender Ed Belfour.
Later that night, Robitaille had a goal and an assist to tie Bucyk for the most points in NHL history for a left with 1,369. The effort wasn’t quite good enough as the Kings were beaten on home ice 4-2 by the Red Wings.
Alex Ovechkin scored his 602nd career goal on March 20, 2018, to pass Jari Kurri for 19th place on the league’s all-time goals list. His league-leading 44th goal of the season helped the Capitals defeat the Dallas Stars 4-3.
Happy Birthday to You
In addition to Orr turning 73 today, 17 other current and former NHL players were born on this date including Charlie Simmer (67), Dennis Wideman (38), Valtteri Filppula (37), Sergei Kostitsyn (34), Nick Leddy (30), Justin Falk (29), Nick Paul (26) Nikolai Knyzhov (23) and Trevor Zegras (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.