Mr. Hockey broke a pair of Stanley Cup playoff records on this date, 29 years apart. In addition, three franchises won their first-ever postseason games and plenty of franchise records were set on this date as well.
Howe Breaks Two More Records
Gordie Howe had a pair of memorable games on this date. On April 8, 1961, Howe 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.
On April 8, 1980, now as a member of the Hartford Whalers, Howe plays in his first Stanley Cup playoff game since 1970. It also marks his 20th postseason appearance which breaks the record that he was sharing 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 Ed Giacomim leads 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 one and only shutout in 65 postseason games.
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.
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 of 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.
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
April 8, 1993, the Washington Capitals became the first team in NHL history to have three defensemen score 20 goals in one season, 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 are still the team record.
On April 8, 1996, the results of a name-the-franchise contest are revealed and the Jets announced that they will 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 1095.
On April 8, 1998, Teemu Selanne scored an empty-netter for his franchise-record 52nd goal of the season in the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 win against 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.
Happy Birthday to You
There have been 22 players to skate in the NHL who were born on April 8. Among those are Viktor Arvidsson (27), J.T. Compher (25), Keegan Kolesar (23) and Rudolfs Balcers (23).