One of the biggest treats for National Hockey League fans is the thrill of watching a Game 7 during the Stanley Cup playoffs. This date has provided quite a few of those, including one that completed an epic comeback.
Game 7 Magic
There are few things greater in sports than a seventh and deciding game in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The intensity of an overtime playoff game is taken to new heights as everyone knows that the next goal will end somebody’s season.
On April 26, 1975, the New York Islanders completed an epic comeback by beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 1-0, in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Quarterfinals. They joined the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs as the only other team in NHL history to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first three games.
Islanders’ captain Ed Westfall scored the only goal of the game with just over five minutes to play in the third period. Glenn Resch stopped all 30 shots he faced to earn the first playoff shutout in franchise history. It was also the first Game 7 shutout by a road goaltender in playoff history and the first by a rookie, as well.
There were a pair of memorable Game 7s played on April 26, 2011. First, Brian Boucher made 26 saves to lead the Philadelphia Flyers over the Buffalo Sabres 5-2, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. It was Boucher’s first Game 7 start since the 2000 Stanley Cup playoffs, which was the longest gap between Game 7 starts for any goaltender in league history.
Later that evening, the Chicago Blackhawks’ reign as Stanley Cup champions came to an end in a Game 7 loss at the Vancouver Canucks. Alexandre Burrows scored both goals for the home team in a 2-1 overtime win. The Blackhawks made things interesting by getting Game 7 into overtime after falling behind 3-1 in the series.
The Canucks went on to win the Western Conference before losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final to the Boston Bruins on home ice.
On April 26, 2012, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal score to lead the New York Rangers to a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. This was the Rangers’ first Game 7 win since the 1994 Stanley Cup Final.
On that same night, Adam Henrique’s second goal of the game gave the New Jersey Devils a 3-2 overtime win over the Florida Panthers, in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series. Henrique became just the second player in NHL to score the first two playoff goals of his career in a Game 7. He and former Devil Claude Lemieux are the only two rookies to ever score in overtime of a Game 7. Lemieux did it with the Canadiens in 1986.
Throw Your Hats
The Edmonton Oilers made playoff history on April 26, 1983, and, surprisingly, it did not involve Wayne Gretzky. Glenn Anderson scored four goals while Mark Messier added three more in an 8-2 win over the Blackhawks, in Game 2 of the Campbell Conference Final. This was just the third time in postseason history when teammates each scored at least three goals in the same game.
Exactly 10 years later, players from opposing teams scored at least three goals in the same postseason game when the Washington Capitals beat the Islanders 6-4, in Game 5 of the Patrick Division Semifinals. Al Iafrate became the first defenseman in Capitals’ team history to score a hat trick in a playoff game. Meanwhile, Ray Ferraro continued his hot streak by scoring all four Islanders’ goals. This came after he scored in overtime in each of the previous two games.
Odds & Ends
On April 26, 1967, Bobby Orr was named the winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s most outstanding rookie. This was the first of many trophies the legendary defensemen would win. The following season, he won the first of eight straight Norris Trophies. During that span, he also won three Hart Trophies, two Art Ross Trophies, two Stanley Cups and a pair of Conn Smythe Trophies.
Ken Dryden and the Canadiens left their mark with their 3-0 win over the Islanders, on April 26, 1977, in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. The shutout was Dryden’s sixth of his playoff career. He also became the just the fourth goaltender in league history to win 50 playoff games and the first to do so with Montreal.
This was also the 38th straight home game in which the Canadiens played without a loss. The went 28-0-6 over the final 34 home games of the regular season before winning their first four playoff contests.
The Bruins finally ended the Canadiens’ domination over them on April 26, 1988. Steve Kasper and Cam Neely each scored twice in a series-ending 4-1 victory in Game 5 of the Adams Division Final. This was the first playoff series win over the Canadiens since 1943, ending their streak of 18 straight series wins.
On April 26, 1992, Blackhawks became the third team in NHL history to score 1,000 career playoff goals. Their 6-4 win over the St. Louis Blues pushed the team’s all-time total to 1,004. The Canadiens and Bruins rank first and second in career playoff goals.
Mike Richter set a Rangers’ record with his 30th career playoff win on April 26, 1996, when he beats the Canadiens 3-2, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Richter broke Ed Giacomin’s record of 29 playoff wins. His 41 playoff wins remained the team’s all-time record until Henrik Lundqvist broke it in 2014.
The Penguins lost 6-3 to the Flyers on April 26, 1997, and were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. In the losing effort, Mario Lemieux scored the 70th playoff goal of his career and added his 85th playoff assist. He hit these marks in just his 89th career postseason game.
On April 26, 2001, Curtis Joseph stopped 32 shots to record his 12th career playoff shutout in the Maple Leafs’ 2-0 win against the Devils, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Joseph retired with 16 career playoff shutouts, the third-most in NHL history.
Later that night, Jaroslav Modry became the first defenseman in Los Angeles Kings’ history to score a playoff overtime goal. His milestone goal came on a power play at 14:23 of overtime for a 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche, in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Jaroslav Halak was the man of the hour for the Canadiens on April 26, 2010. He made 53 saves in a 4-1 Montreal victory over the Capitals, in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. It was the most saves made by a goaltender in a regulation playoff win since the league expanded in 1967.
Happy Birthday to You
April 26 is the date of birth for 20 current and former NHL players. Among the lot are Bruce McGregor (79), Vaclav Varada (44), Craig Adams (43) and Frederik Gauthier (25).