April 25 has provided us with some great playoff moments throughout the history of the National Hockey League. Two of the greatest players to ever lace up a pair of skates had offensive explosions on a date that saw plenty of great postseason moments.
The Great One & Super Mario Go Off
Two of the most dynamic offensive talents to ever play in the NHL had huge games on this date. On April 25, 1985, Wayne Gretzky put up seven points in a playoff game for the second time in his career. He scored three goals and added four assists in the Edmonton Oilers’ 8-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets, to sweep them out of the Smythe Division Final. After scoring two goals in the first period, Gretzky scored a shorthanded, empty-net goal late in the game. He assisted on all three of Jari Kurri’s goals.
Four years later, Mario Lemieux accomplished something even Gretzky didn’t do in his career; score eight points in a Stanley Cup playoff game. He tied or set multiple records in a Pittsburgh Penguins’ 10-7 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers, in Game of the Patrick Division Final.
Lemieux started off his huge night by scoring the fastest hat trick in postseason history as he had three goals in the first 6:55 of the game. He added a fourth tally before the first intermission to tie the record for the most goals in a single playoff period. His fifth and final goal came in the final minute of play while the Flyers had their goaltender pulled for an extra attacker. All three of his assists came in the second period.
In addition to the hat trick record and the most goals in one period, Lemieux ties the record for the most points in a playoff game set in the previous season by Patrik Sundstrom of the New Jersey Devils. He also joined Maurice Richard, Darry Sittler and Reggie Leach as the only players with a five-goal game in the postseason.
Penguins Love Comebacks
In addition to Lemieux’s record-setting performance in 1989, the Penguins led two very impressive comebacks on this date. On April 25, 2008, they erase a three-goal deficit to beat the New York Rangers, 5-4, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Until that point, the Rangers were 93-1 all-time in playoff games in which they owned a three-goal lead.
Exactly one year later, they pulled off the same comeback against the rival Flyers. Philadelphia jumped out to a 3-0 lead in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals before the Penguins scored the last five goals of the night. Sidney Crosby scored twice to go along with goals by Ruslan Fedotenko, Mark Eaton and Sergei Gonchar to help the Penguins advance into the second round.
Roy’s Overtime Streak
On April 25, 1994, Patrick Roy made 60 saves and Kirk Muller scored in overtime to give the Montreal Canadiens a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. It was the Canadiens and Roy’s 11th straight playoff overtime win, both NHL records.
Exactly two years later, Roy extended his personal streak to 12 in the Colorado Avalanche’s 5-4 overtime victory versus the Vancouver Canucks, in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Joe Sakic scored a hat trick in the win, including one of his NHL-record eight career postseason overtime goals.
Maple Leaf Memories
On April 25, 1964, the Toronto Maple Leafs won their third straight Stanley Cup by beating the Detroit Red Wings 4-0. Andy Bathgate, Dave Keon, Red Kelly and George Armstrong all scored in the victory while Hall of Famer Johnny Bower made 33 saves to become the first goaltender to post a shutout in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Gump Worsley repeated this feat for the Canadiens the following season. Martin Brodeur (2003) and Tim Thomas (2011) are the only other netminders who have shutouts in Game 7 of the championship series.
Three years later, on April 25, 1967, Bob Pulford scored in double overtime to lead the Maple Leafs to a 3-2 win over Canadiens, in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. The two teams combined for 116 shots on goal, with the Maple Leafs getting 62.
Mike Gartner scored the third and final playoff hat trick of his career, and the only one in a Maple Leafs uniform, on April 25, 1996. He had a goal in each of the first two periods before scoring the game-winning goal on a late third-period power play to beat the Blues 5-4, in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Odds & Ends
Bobby Orr had a big night on April 25, 1972, to help the Bruins sweep the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Semifinals. Orr had three assists in the 5-3 victory, giving him 15 assists through the first two rounds of the playoffs. He broke the record for the most assists by a defenseman in a single playoff with one round to go.
The previous mark of 14 was shared by Pat Stapleton and J.C. Tremblay. He finished the postseason with 19 helpers, which remained the record for defensemen until Paul Coffey racked up 25 assists during the 1985 Stanley Cup playoffs.
On April 25, 1997, Esa Tikkanen scored in as the Rangers beat the Florida Panthers 3-2, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. It was Tikkanen’s second overtime of the series and the fourth of his playoff career.
One year later, Jaromir Jagr picked up an assist to give him 100 career points in 100 NHL playoff games. The milestone came in the Penguins’ 4-1 win over the Canadiens, in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Dale Hunter added his name to the NHL record books on April 25, 2012, when the Washington Capitals beat the Bruins, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Joel Ward scored early in overtime to make Hunter the first person ever to score a Game 7 overtime goal and then coach a team to Game 7 overtime win. The two teams also completed the first seven-game series in NHL history in which every game was decided by a single goal.
Happy Birthday to You
There is a group of 20 players who have skated in the NHL who were born on April 25. Among them are Alexei Emelin (34), Rich Clune (33) and the late Pat Egan.