Today in Hockey History: April 13

One of the greatest dynasties in National Hockey League history was nearly cut short on this date 39 years ago. April 13 has also provided plenty of big moments in both the regular season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The THW time machine is warmed up and ready to take us back through the years to relive all the best moments this date has had to offer.

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.

Sign up for our NHL History Substack newsletter

Substack The Hockey Writers Hockey History Banner

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 hit off the end boards and went 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’ run of four straight Stanley Cups was this was the 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 Dick Irvin held at the time.

Head Coach Al Arbour of the New York Islanders
Few did it better behind an NHL bench than Arbour. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

He finished his career with 1,607 games under his belt. That is currently sixth all-time in NHL history behind current New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff (1,712), Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice (1,765), Joel Quenneville (1,768), Barry Trotz (1,812), 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. He assisted on all four goals in regulation before scoring in overtime to complete the four-game sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks. This 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.

tony esposito
Esposito came up huge on April 13, 1974. (THW Archives)

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, 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 defeat 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.

Teemu Selanne, Winnipeg Jets, Alumni Game, Heritage Classic
Selanne’s rookie season was one for the ages. (Credit: Glenn Cratty/ALLSPORT)

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 played 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 picked up his 700th career assist in a Red Wings’ loss to the St. Louis Blues.

Chris Chelios
Chelios’ career spanned over 24 seasons. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Brian Leetch hit 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 player 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 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Related: Ovechkin, His Milestone Goals & the Goalies He Beat

On this night in 2021 in what became a 6-1 blowout of the Flyers, John Carlson reached 400 points in the NHL in his 800th game. He became the second defenseman in Capitals history to play at least that many games (Calle Johansson, 983). Nick Backstrom also passed Daniel Alfredsson for fourth in assists by a Swedish player in NHL history with 714, behind just Mats Sundin (785), Henrik Sedin (830) and Nicklas Lidstrom (878).

To continue the milestones, Milan Lucic became the 11th player to play his 1,000th game with the Flames when he suited up in a 3-2 overtime win over the Maple Leafs on April 13, 2021. Before being traded to the Flames in 2019, he played for the Bruins (who drafted him 50th overall in 2006) and Oilers and has accumulated over 500 points in his career. Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly also recorded his 300th point when he assisted on Zach Hyman‘s goal in the first period.

Milan Lucic Calgary Flames
Milan Lucic, Calgary Flames (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Panthers forward Frank Vatrano finished the night of milestones in 2021 with his third overtime winner of the season when he scored on the power play in what became a 3-2 win over the Stars. He joined Olli Jokinen and Mike Hoffman as the only Florida players with three overtime goals in a season all-time. Stars’ forward Jason Robertson and his brother Nick (who plays for the Maple Leafs) also became the first set of brothers of Asian descent to play an NHL game on the same night since Paul Kariya of the Ducks and Steven Kariya of the Canucks did so on Oct. 21, 2001.

On April 13, 2022, Cale Makar recorded his 53rd assist of the season to pass Ray Bourque (52, 2000-01) for the second most by an Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques defenseman behind Steve Duchesne (62, 1992-93). He did it in a 9-3 blowout of the Los Angeles Kings that saw him post four points and Nathan MacKinnon notch a hat trick.

A trio of milestones happened for the Devils on April 13, 2023. After winning their final game of the season against the Capitals, they set a New Jersey/Colorado Rockies/Kansas City Scouts record with 112 points, one more than they had in 2000-01. Also in that game, Dougie Hamilton scored his 22nd goal of the season to tie Barry Beck for the most by a defenseman in franchise history. Finally, Luke Hughes scored his first NHL goal (and overtime game-winner).

A pair of hat tricks also were scored on this date as Conor Garland recorded his first against his former team, the Arizona Coyotes, and Adrian Kempe did the same against the Ducks. Kempe also hit 40 goals, making it the first time a Los Angeles Kings player has done so since Luc Robitaille back in 1993-94.

Happy Birthday to You

There is a group of 27 well-respected current and former NHL players who were born on April 13. Among the lot are Mariusz Czerkawski (52), Sergei Gonchar (50), Patrik Elias (48), Arron Asham (46), Joonas Donskoi (32), Elvis Merzlikins (30), Connor Carrick (30), Steven Lorentz (28) and Rasmus Dahlin (24).

Originally constructed by Greg Boysen