One of the greatest dynasties in National Hockey League history was nearly cut short on this date 38 years ago. April 13 has also provided plenty of big moments in both the regular season and Stanley Cup playoffs throughout the years.
Disaster Avoided, Dynasty Saved
The New York Islanders dynasty of the 1980s had five Hall of Famers on their roster including Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin and Bryan Trottier. However, you don’t win four straight Stanley Cups unless you have some great talent throughout the entire roster.
John Tonelli might be one of the most important players in those championship years. He was the guy who went into the corners to win the puck battles and he wasn’t an offensive slouch by any means. He set up Bobby Nystrom’s overtime goal that clinched the 1980 championship and came up huge on April 13, 1982.
The Islanders’ run of Stanley Cup wins nearly ended at just two as the Pittsburgh Penguins gave them all they could handle in their Patrick Division Semifinal series in 1982. After the Islanders won the first two games of the best-of-series, the Penguins came back to force a fifth and final contest.
The mood inside the Nassau Coliseum was tense as the visitors scored three goals in 7:30, late in the second period, to take a 3-1 advantage into the final frame. Things perked up when defenseman Mike McEwen cut the deficit to one with a power-play goal at 14:33. Tonelli was in the right place at the right time, a few moments later, when the puck hits off the end boards and goes right to his stick in the slot for the game-tying goal.
Tonelli struck again, just over six minutes in overtime, with Nystrom and McEwen getting the helpers on the series-ending goal. The most amazing stat about the Islanders fun of four straight Stanley Cups was this was the one and only game in which they faced elimination.
Al Arbour, who was behind the bench for all four of those championships on Long Island, hit a personal milestone a decade later on April 13, 1992. He coached in his 1,437th career NHL game, tying the all-time record that was held by Dick Irvin at the time.
He finished his career with 1,607 games under his belt. That is currently fourth all-time in NHL history behind current Islanders head coach Barry Trotz (1,674), Joel Quenneville (1,705) and Scotty Bowman (2,141).
Stanley Cup Playoff Moments
Toe Blake put the Montreal Canadiens on his back for Game 4 of the 1944 Stanley Cup Final. Blake assisted on all four goals in regulation before scoring in overtime to complete the four-game sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks. It was the first Stanley Cup win for the Canadiens in 13 years, the longest championship drought they would endure during the 20th century.
Speaking of the Blackhawks, they set a record for the fewest shots on goal in a Stanley Cup playoff game on April 13, 1974. The Los Angeles Kings held the visiting Blackhawks to just 10 shots on goal and just three after the first period. However, Germain Gagnon scored on their first shot of the game and that was all they needed as Tony Esposito stopped all 32 shots he faced in a 1-0 victory.
The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers played a memorable playoff tilt on April 13, 1985. Tim Kerr of the Flyers set a postseason record by scoring four consecutive goals in the second period, including three on the power play. The two teams tied a Stanley Cup playoff record as they combined for seven power-play goals. The Flyers had four of them in a 6-5 win.
On April 13, 2018, the Vegas Golden Knights played in their first-ever overtime playoff game. Erik Haula scored late in the second overtime session to lead the Golden Knights to a 2-1 victory over the visiting Kings. Jonathan Quick made 54 saves in the losing effort as Vegas grabbed a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven playoff series. William Karlsson has the only other overtime playoff goal in franchise history.
Brooks Orpik of the Washington Capitals became the oldest defenseman to score an overtime playoff goal on April 13, 2019. At 38 years and 199 days old, he was 131 days older than the previous record-holder, Keith Carney, was when he scored in overtime for the Minnesota Wild in 2008. Orpik’s goal that beat the Carolina Hurricanes was the fourth playoff goal of his career; three of which were game-winners with two coming in overtime.
Odds & Ends
On April 13, 1993, the Ottawa Senators lost their 40th road game of the season to establish an all-time NHL mark, in a 6-2 loss at the Quebec Nordiques. The Senators broke the old record of 39 road losses set by the 1974-75 Capitals.
On that same evening, rookie Teemu Selanne had an assist to tie the Winnipeg Jets team record for most points in a season. Selanne’s 130 points in 83 games matched the total Dale Hawerchuk had in 1984-85 in just 80 games.
Ray Sheppard became the first player in NHL history to score a goal against 23 teams in one season on April 13, 1994. Sheppard scored his career-high 51st and 52nd goals of the season in the Detroit Red Wings’ 9-0 win over the visiting Canadiens.
Pavel Bure lit the lamp in a Vancouver Canucks’ 2-1 win over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim on that same night. Bure reached the 60-goal plateau for the second straight season. He is still one of only eight players in NHL history to have more than one 60-goal season in his career. He nearly had two more but came up just short with 58 and 59 goals for the Florida Panthers in 1999-00 and 2000-01, respectively.
On April 13, 1997, the Hartford Whalers play their final game in Connecticut and beat the Tampa Lightning 2-1. The Whalers moved to North Carolina and began play as the Carolina Hurricanes the following season.
Two of the greatest American-born defensemen in NHL history hit the same milestone in separate games on April 13, 2002. Chris Chelios picks up his 700th career assist in a Red Wings’ loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Brian Leetch hits the same mark, becoming the first Rangers player to ever pick up 700 assists, in a loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. The pair of Hall of Famers are two of just 11 defensemen to have at least 700 assists and the only two who were born in the United States.
On April 13, 2006, Alex Ovechkin joined Selanne as the only players to score 50 goals and 100 points in their rookie season when he scores against the Atlanta Thrashers. This was the first of eight 50-goal seasons for Ovechkin. He had 48 goals when the 2019-20 season was put on hold.
Happy Birthday to You
There is a group of 26 well-respected current and former NHL players who were born on April 13. Among the lot are Mariusz Czerkawski (48), Sergei Gonchar (46), Patrik Elias (44), Arron Asham (42), Joonas Donskoi (28), Elvis Merzlikins (26), Connor Carrick (26) and Rasmus Dahlin (20).