Today in Hockey History: April 8

Mr. Hockey broke a pair of Stanley Cup playoff records on this date, 29 years apart. Also, three franchises won their first-ever postseason games and plenty of new records were set on this date. The THW time machine is fired up and ready to take us on our daily trip through the decades to relive the best April 8 has to offer.

Gordie Howe Breaks Two More Records

Gordie Howe had a pair of memorable games on this date. On April 8, 1961, he had two assists in the Detroit Red Wings’ 2-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. The performance gave him 61 career playoff assists, setting a new NHL record. When Howe retired, he had 92 postseason assists, which currently has him ranked 32nd on the all-time list.

Gordie howe
Breaking records was nothing new for Howe. (THW Archives)

On April 8, 1980, now as a member of the Hartford Whalers, Howe played in his first Stanley Cup playoff game since 1970. It also marks his 20th postseason appearance, which broke the record he shared with his former teammate Red Kelly. In the last 40 years, seven more players have made at least 20 trips to the playoffs. Ray Bourque passed Howe with 21 playoff appearances and Chris Chelios holds the record with 24.

Stanley Cup Playoff Milestones

On April 8, 1971, the Montreal Canadiens stunned the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. The Bruins looked well on their way to taking a 2-0 series lead with a 5-1 lead in the second period. However, Henri Richard scored just before the second intermission and the tables began the turn. The Canadiens scored five goals in the third period to win 7-5 and even the series. Montreal rode rookie goaltender Ken Dryden all the way to a Stanley Cup championship that spring.

Two years later, Hall of Fame goaltender Eddie Giacomin led the New York Rangers to a 4-0 win over the Bruins. While he earned 54 regular-season shutouts in his career, this was his only shutout in 65 postseason games.

Giacomin only had one playoff shutout in his Hall of Fame career. (THW Archives)

On that same evening, Gilbert Perreault scored two goals and added an assist as the Buffalo Sabres beat the Canadiens 5-1 for the first Stanley Cup playoff win in franchise history.

Related: The French Connection | Buffalo Sabres

Speaking of first-ever postseason wins, the New York Islanders made their Stanley Cup playoff debut on April 8, 1975. Billy Harris, Jean Potvin, and rookie Clark Gillies all scored in the third period to knock off the Rangers 3-2.

On April 8, 1980, the Philadelphia Flyers set a team record for most shots on goal in a playoff game with 51 against the Edmonton Oilers. Bobby Clarke scored at 8:06 of overtime to give the Flyers a 4-3 win.

Bobby Clarke Philadelphia Flyers
Clarke scored an overtime playoff goal 40 years ago today. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

The Winnipeg Jets earned their first Stanley Cup playoff win on April 8, 1982. Rookie Dale Hawerhuck had four assists in the Jets’ 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues in Game 2 of the Norris Division Semifinals.

Odds & Ends

The Washington Capitals became the first team in NHL history to have three defensemen score 20 goals in one season on April 8, 1993, when Sylvain Cote scored his 20th of the year, joining Kevin Hatcher and Al Iafrate.

One year later, Scott Stevens had a goal and three assists in a 7-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. This gave him 58 assists on the season, the most in New Jersey Devils franchise history. He broke the mark shared by Kirk Muller and Aaron Broten. Stevens finished the 1993-94 season with 60 assists which is still the team record.

Scott Stevens
Stevens still owns the Devils’ single-season record for assists. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

On April 8, 1996, the results of a name-the-franchise contest were revealed, and the Jets announced that they would be known as the Phoenix Coyotes starting the following fall.

Later that evening, Theo Fleury became just the third player in Calgary Flames history to score 600 points when he picked up an assist in a 5-2 win over the visiting San Jose Sharks. Fleury ended his time in Calgary with 830 points, the second-most in franchise history behind Jarome Iginla’s 1,095.

Related: Theo Fleury – It’s the Size of the Heart That Matters!

Teemu Selanne scored an empty-netter for his franchise-record 52nd goal of the season on April 8, 1988, in the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim’s 4-2 win against the Oilers. He broke his own record of 51 goals he set in the previous season. His 52 goals remain the team record for the most in a single season.

The Maple Leafs beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 on April 8, 2000, to hit the 100-point mark on the season. They become the last of the “Original Six” teams to have a 100-point season.

On this night in 2021, Rasmus Dahlin played his 180th game in the NHL and recorded an assist in the Sabres’ 6-3 loss against the Devils to become the second-fastest Sabres defenseman to record 100 points in his career. The fastest is still Phil Housley as he did it in 106 games.

Viktor Arvidsson made history on April 8, 2021, when he capped off his birthday hat trick with a goal on a penalty shot in the Predators’ 7-1 blowout of the Red Wings. He became the first player to do it in franchise history.

On April 8, 2022, Jonathan Huberdeau became the second player in Florida Panthers history to have two double-digit point streaks when he recorded an assist on Claude Giroux‘s first-period goal in the Panthers’ 4-3 victory over the Sabres. The only other player to do it was Hall-of-Famer Pavel Bure in 1999-00 when he had streaks of 13 and 11 games.

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On that same night, then-Islanders head coach Barry Trotz coached his 1,800th game in the NHL; second only to Scotty Bowman. Now poised to take over the Nashville Predators front office as their general manager in 2023-24, he has seemingly finished his coaching career with a record of 914-670-60-168 over 1,812 games.

Finally, Cale Makar joined the party on April 8, 2022, with his 52nd assist to tie Ray Bourque for the second-most in a season in Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques history. By the time the season had ended, he stood alone behind Steve Duchesne‘s 62 with 58.

On April 8, 2023, Sidney Crosby became the 15th player in NHL history to reach 1,500 points, when he scored two goals and an assist in the Penguins’ 5-1 win over the Red Wings. He also became the sixth fastest player to reach the mark, trailing Gretzky (620 games), Mario Lemieux (747), Marcel Dionne (1,078), Jaromir Jagr (1,165) and Phil Esposito (1,166). He did it in 11 fewer games than Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman (1,199).

On the same night, the latest generational talent, Connor McDavid, passed the 150-point mark with two goals and an assist against the Sharks. With it, he became the sixth player to reach the milestone and the first since Lemieux had 161 points for the Penguins in 1995-96.

With an assist on Casey Mittelstadt’s goal on April 8, 2023, Rasmus Dahlin became the second defenseman in Sabres history to reach 70 points in a single season, after Phil Housley, who did it three times.

Happy Birthday to You

There have been 24 players to skate in the NHL who were born on April 8. Among those are Viktor Arvidsson (31), J.T. Compher (29), Keegan Kolesar (27), Rudolfs Balcers (27), Jamie Drysdale (22) and Marco Kasper (20).

*Originally constructed by Greg Boysen