Today in Hockey History: April 2

This date in National Hockey League history has seen quite a few records fall and new standards set. There were some big overtime goals, the number 50 was wild and a pair of historic seasons came to an end. Let’s take our daily trip back in time to relive all the best moments April 2 has had to offer through the years.

Paul Coffey Brews a New Record

Paul Coffey was one of the greatest offensive defensemen to ever play in the NHL. He averaged over a point per game during his Hall of Fame career with 1,531 points in 1,409 games over 21 seasons with nine different teams. Ray Bourque is the only defenseman in league history to score more goals and points than Coffey.

On April 2, 1986, Coffey broke another Boston Bruins legend’s record when the Edmonton Oilers beat the Vancouver Canucks 8-4. Late in the first period, he scored his 46th goal of the season to tie Bobby Orr’s record for the most goals by a defenseman. He set a new single-season record with another goal early in the 2nd period.

Defenseman Paul Coffey of the Edmonton Oilers
Coffey was a force from the blue line. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Coffey added a 48th and final goal two days later in the regular-season finale against the Calgary Flames. This is still the most goals a defenseman has ever scored in a single season. He and Orr are the only blueliners to have 40-goal seasons, with Coffey doing it twice.

Overtime Magic

On April 2, 1939, Mel Hill earned his nickname “Sudden Death” by helping the Bruins knock the New York Rangers out of the postseason. In Game 7 of their Stanly Cup Semifinal, Hill scored eight minutes into overtime to send the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Final. It was the 25-year-old forward’s third overtime goal of the series as he had the game-winner in both Games 1 and 2. He is still the only player to score three overtime goals in a single playoff series.

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Jim Peters scored the winning goal in overtime on April 2, 1946, as the Montreal Canadiens won 3-2 over the visiting Bruins to take a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final. This was the Canadiens’ second straight overtime win. The Bruins won Game 4 in extra time, but that was their only victory of the series as Montreal won the Stanley Cup in five games.

Ted Irvine of the Los Angeles Kings scored the fastest overtime goal in NHL postseason history on this date in 1969. He lit the lamp just 19 seconds into overtime to beat the Oakland Seals and give the Kings their first-ever Stanley Cup playoff victory.

50 is the Magic Number

On April 2, 1972, Bobby Hull scored his 50th goal of the season in the Chicago Blackhawks’ 6-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings, making him the first player to ever have five 50-goal seasons. It was his 604th and final goal with the Blackhawks as he left for the World Hockey Association and signed with the Winnipeg Jets in the offseason.

Hull scored his final goal in a Blackhawks uniform on this date. (THW Archives)

On that same day, Vic Hadfield became the first player in Rangers’ franchise history to ever score 50 goals in a season. He accomplished the feat with two goals against the Montreal Canadiens while playing with a broken thumb. It would be 22 years before another Ranger hit the 50-goal mark when Adam Graves scored 52 in 1993-94. Jaromir Jagr holds the team record with 54 goals in 2005-06.

Marcel Dionne scored three times on April 2, 1977, to become the first player in Los Angeles Kings’ history to have a 50-goal season. His 11th career hat trick led the way in a 7-2 win over the Minnesota North Stars.

Guy Lafleur scored twice to become the first player in NHL history to have six straight 50-goal seasons, on April 2, 1980, as the Canadiens beat the Red Wings 7-2. He broke the mark of five straight 50-goal seasons set by Phil Esposito.

Related: Guy Lafleur: The Last of the Great Habs Skaters

That same evening, Wayne Gretzky became the first teenager to score 50 goals in an NHL season. The 19-year-old future Hall of Famer scored his 50th goal of the season against the Minnesota North Stars. It was his first of nine seasons of at least 50 goals.

Pierre Turgeon became the fourth player in New York Islanders history to score 50 goals in a season on April 2, 1993, when he scored during a 3-2 overtime win at the Rangers.  

Memorable Seasons Come to an End

The Canadiens set an NHL record on April 2, 1977, by defeating the Washington Capitals 11-0. It was their 59th win of the season, the most by any team in league history, breaking the record they had set in the previous season. They defeated the Capitals one more time to finish the season with 60 wins. That record stood until the Red Wings won 62 games in 1995-96, which the Tampa Bay Lightning matched in 2018-19.

Ken Dryden #29 of the Montreal Canadiens
Ken Dryden won 41 games in 1976-77. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

On April 2, 1994, the San Jose Sharks knocked off the Canucks to give them 77 points on the season. It was a 53-point improvement from the 24 points they earned in the previous, which is still the biggest turnaround by any team in league history. The Sharks finished with 82 points and qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in their third season in the league.

1989, a Very Good Year

On April 2, 1989, Joe Mullen of the Calgary Flames scored a goal and picked up a pair of assists in a 4-2 win over the Oilers. He finished the season with 110 points, breaking the record for the most points in a single season by an American-born player, set the previous season by Jimmy Carson. He held on to that record for only three years when Kevin Stevens scored 123 points for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Speaking of Carson, he had an assist in the same game to hit the 100-point plateau for the second straight season. After scoring 207 points in his first two seasons in the NHL, Carson would not have another 100-point season in his career.

Meanwhile, at the old Spectrum, Mario Lemieux scored his 84th and 85th goals in the Penguins 6-5 overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers. His second goal of the night gave him 300 in his career in just 368 games. His 85 goals in 1988-89 are still the fourth-most scored in a single season.

Veteran Dale Hunter became the eighth player in NHL history to record 2,000 career penalty minutes during the Capitals’ 7-4 loss at the New Jersey Devils

Kelly Hrudey became the first goaltender in NHL history to win at least 10 games with two teams in the same season when he got his 10th victory with the Kings, a 5-4 win at the Canucks. He had 18 wins for the Islanders before he was traded to Los Angeles.

Speaking of goaltenders, Clint Malarchuk returned to action just 10 days after suffering the scariest injury in league history and led the Buffalo Sabres to a 4-2 win over the Quebec Nordiques.

Odds & Ends

Lorne Chabot became the first rookie goaltender to earn a shutout in his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut on April 2, 1927, as the Rangers and Bruins skated to a 1-1 tie in Game 1 of their Semifinal series.

On April 2, 1967, Stan Mikita picked up two assists in an 8-0 win over the Rangers, to give him 97 points on the year, tying Hull’s NHL record for most points in a season (set in 1965-66).

The Bruins set a playoff record with six power-play goals on April 2, 1969, in a 10-0 win against the Maple Leafs. Esposito had four goals, including three on the power play, and two assists, as the Bruins picked up their first playoff victory in 10 since 1959.

Phil Esposito Boston Bruins
Esposito had four goals on this date in 1969. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

Staying in Boston, on April 2, 1977, Jean Ratelle scored his 400th career goal in the Bruins’ 5-3 win over the Islanders. He was just the 13th member of the NHL’s 400-goal club.

Mike Bossy scored his 60th goal of the season as the New York Islanders beat the Penguins 6-1 on April 2, 1983. He became the first player in league history to score at least 60 goals in three straight seasons. Gretzky topped that mark two years later when he picked up his fourth-straight 60-goal season.

Gretzky scored three goals for his NHL-record 34th hat trick on April 2, 1985, in the Oilers’ 6-4 win at the Kings. He broke the previous record set two months earlier by Mike Bossy of the Islanders.

On that same night, Billy Smith became the first goaltender in Islanders’ franchise history to record 250 wins by beating the Penguins 4-3.

Lemieux set a Penguins team record with his 22nd power-play goal of the season on April 2, 1988, in a 7-6 overtime win at the Capitals. He broke the record of 21 set by Paul Gardner in 1981-82.

On April 2, 1993, Paul Kariya became the first freshman ever to win the Hobey Baker award as the NCAA player of the year. He scored 25 goals and 100 points in just 39 games for the University of Maine Black Bears. He would be the only freshman to win the award until 2015 when Jack Eichel did it for Boston University.

Ed Belfour picked up his 74th career shutout on April 2, 2004, as the Maple Leafs earned their franchise-record 101st point of the season with a 2-0 win over the Sabres.

Lindy Ruff became the fifth coach in NHL history to win 700 games on April 2, 2015, when the Dallas Stars defeated the Kings 3-2. He joined Scotty Bowman, Joel Quenneville, Al Arbour and Ken Hitchcock in the 700-win club.

On April 2, 2018, brothers Daniel and Henrik Sedin announced they’d be retiring at the end of the season with a letter to the fans on the Canucks website. The twins played 17 seasons in Vancouver after being drafted second and third overall at the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. Henrik is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer with 1,070 points and Daniel is second with 1,041.

Brent Burns became the third active defenseman with 500 assists on April 2, 2021, joining Duncan Keith and Ryan Suter in the feat when he assisted on Rudolfs Balcers‘ third-period goal in what became a 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings.

On that same night, Jack Campbell extended his winning streak to eight games when he beat the Jets 2-1 in a shootout on April 2, 2021. With the victory, he tied Turk Broda and George Hainsworth for the second-longest winning streak in Maple Leafs history. Felix Potvin, Jacques Plante and John Ross Roach have the record with nine in a row.

The Bruins became the fourth team in NHL history to reach 60 wins on April 2, 2023, when they beat the Blues 4-3 in a shootout. They joined the 1976-77 Canadiens (60 wins), 1995-96 Red Wings (62) and 2018-19 Lightning (62) as the only teams to reach the mark.

Kris Letang suited up for his 1,000th game in the NHL on April 2, 2023, joining Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as the only players to have played 1,000 games with the Penguins. He has the most goals, assists and points by a defenseman in their history.

From a veteran to a youngster, Trevor Zegras entered the Anaheim Ducks record books on this day in 2023 when he hit 60 points for the second time in his career. He joined Paul Kariya as the only players in Anaheim history to get at least 60 points in multiple seasons before the age of 23.

Happy Birthday to You

There are 19 current and former NHL players celebrating birthdays today with the most notable being, Dwight Foster (67), Rem Pitlick (27), Noah Juulsen (27) and the late Buster Harvey.

*Originally constructed by Greg Boysen