The National Hockey League is normally in the midst of the Stanley Cup playoffs on April 20. Since that is not possible right now, we will take a look back at some of the biggest moments to occur on this date throughout the years.
Gretzky & Penguins Set All-Time Marks
On April 20, 1992, Wayne Gretzky became the first player to score 300 points in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The milestone came during his four-assist performance to beat his former team, the Edmonton Oilers, 8-5, in Game 2 of the Smythe Division Semifinals. The Great One remains the only player in NHL history who has 300 postseason points after retiring with 382. His old teammate Mark Messier is second all-time with 295 career points in the playoffs.
The following year, on April 20, 1993, the Pittsburgh Penguins set a record by winning their 13th straight Stanley Cup playoff game. The historic win came in a 7-0 whitewashing of the New Jersey Devils, in Game 2 of the Patrick Division Semifinals. Ron Francis picked up four assists while Tom Barrasso made 36 saves for his third career playoff shutout.
The Penguins extended their winning streak to 14 games before the Devils beat them on April 25, 1993. The New Islanders knocked them out, in seven games, in the next round to end the Penguins’ two-year reign as Stanley Cup Champions.
More Stanley Cup Playoff Firsts
On April 20, 1950, Don Raleigh of the New York Rangers became the first player in league history to score overtime goals in back-to-back Stanley Cup Final games. Two nights after beating the Detroit Red Wings in overtime of Game 4, he strikes again just 1:38 in the extra time of Game 5 to give the Rangers a 3-2 series lead. Raleigh was the only player to accomplish this feat until John LeClair did it for the Montreal Canadiens during the 1993 Final.
Jean Beliveau scored his first and only postseason hat trick on April 20, 1968. The legendary forward tallied three goals in the Canadiens’ 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. The Blackhawks opened the scoring before Beliveau tied it in the first period. He completed his hat trick with a pair of power-play goals in the middle frame.
Bobby Orr scored his first career Stanley Cup playoff goal on April 20, 1969. He scored the eventual game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory over the Canadiens, beating Rogie Vachon. He finished his remarkable career with 26 goals and 92 points in 74 postseason games.
Tony Esposito got his nickname of “Tony 0” during his tremendous rookie season of 1969-70 when he earned an NHL-record 15 shutouts. He picked up his first postseason shutout on April 20, 1971, with a 3-0 blanking of the Rangers, in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals.
Exactly three years later, another Hall of Fame netminder picked up his first career shutout in the playoffs. Bernie Parent stopped everything the Rangers threw at him in a 4-0 win, in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. Rick MacLeish scored two goals and an assist while Gary Dornhoefer had three assists.
The Winnipeg Jets beat the Minnesota Wild 5-0, on April 20, 2018, to advance out of the first round. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves to pick up his second straight shutout. This marked the franchise’s first-ever Stanley Cup playoff series win since entering the league as the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999. It was the first playoff series win in Winnipeg since the original Jets (now Arizona Coyotes) won their Smythe Division Semifinal series over the Calgary Flames in 1987.
Odd & Ends
On April 20, 1958, the Canadiens beat the Boston Bruins 5-3, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Bernie Geoffrion scored a pair of goals as the Canadiens became just the second team to win three straight Stanley Cups in NHL history. The Toronto Maple Leafs were the first team to do it between 1947 and 1949.
The St. Louis Blues made their first big splash in free agency when they signed Doug Harvey on April 20, 1968. The 44-year-old defenseman played the final year of his Hall of Fame career in St. Louis and showed he still had a little something left in the tank. He played in 70 regular-season contests, the most games he played since the 1956-57 season, and helped the Blues reach the 1969 Stanley Cup Final with four assists in eight playoff games.
Craig MacTavish skated in his final NHL game on April 20, 1997. The Blues’ season and MacTavish’s career come to an end following a 3-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. MacTavish goes down in NHL history as the final player to skate in a game without wearing a helmet. The league made helmets mandatory before the 1979-80 season, but MacTavish is the last player who was still grandfathered in to play without one.
On April 20, 2002, Curtis Joseph recorded his 13th career playoff shutout in the Maple Leafs’ 2-0 win over the Islanders, in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Mats Sundin had assists on both of Toronto’s third-period goals. Joseph retired with 16 career playoff shutouts, only Patrick Roy (23) and Martin Brodeur (24) had more in NHL history.
Jaromir Jagr made history on April 20, 2016, during the Florida Panthers 2-1 victory over the Islanders, in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series. Jagr sets up Jonathan Huberdeau’s power-play goal in the second period to become just the fifth player to ever score 200 postseason points.
He would get one more playoff point before heading back to his native Czech Republic to play. There could be a new member of the 200-point club in the near future as Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby sits at 186 career playoff points.
Happy Birthday to You
Mike Lampman was born on April 20, 1950. While that name might not ring a bell, Lampman has the distinction of being the first-ever player born in California to reach the NHL. He skated in 96 games for the Blues, Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals between 1973-1977.
Other notable players who are celebrating birthdays are Viacheslav Fetisov (62), Chris Mason (44), Brent Seabrook (35), Nick Bonino (32), Colton Sceviour (31), Derek Grant (30), Dylan McIlrath (28), Michael Ferland (28), Ben Hutton (27), Shayne Gostisbehere (27) and Adam Erne (25).