Today in Hockey History: April 9

April 9 has been a huge date in Stanley Cup Playoffs history, including a memorable night for one of the most famous families in the game. Let’s begin our daily trip back in time to relive all the best moments the National Hockey League has given us on this date.

Gordie Shows Howe it’s Done

The Howe family had an extraordinary evening on April 9, 1980, when the Hartford Whalers took on the Montreal Canadiens in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Preliminary Round series. A 52-year-old Gordie Howe was in uniform along with his sons Mark and Marty.

Late in the third period, Gordie scored his 68th and final career Stanley Cup Playoff goal with Mark picking up the primary assist. Mark also set up his brother Marty’s third-period goal as all three Howe family members picked up a point in the 8-4 loss.

His 68 Stanley Cup playoff goals have him ranked 18th on the all-time postseason scoring list. Howe is still the oldest player to ever score in a postseason game, and that record is likely never to be broken.

Pittsburgh Penguins Make NHL History

Mario Lemieux scored five goals while Joe Mullen added a hat trick of his own when the Penguins beat the New York Rangers 10-4 on April 9, 1993. The victory at Madison Square Garden was the Penguins’ 16th win in a row, breaking the record set by the 1981-82 New York Islanders.

Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguins
The 1992-93 season was a special one for Lemieux. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

With the game tied 2-2 heading into the second period, Lemieux scored the 31st hat trick of his career with an even-strength, a power-play and a shorthanded goal. He and Mullen both scored twice in a five-goal third period for the Penguins.

Wayne Gretzky Becomes the Greatest

Gretzky made Stanley Cup Playoff history in the Edmonton Oilers’ 13-3 beating of the Los Angeles Kings on April 9, 1987. He had a goal and tied the single-game playoff record by picking up six assists in the blowout victory as the Oilers set a franchise record for the most goals in a postseason game.  He and Mikko Leinonen of the New York Rangers remain the only two players to have six helpers in a playoff game.

More importantly, Gretzky passed Canadiens’ legend, Jean Beliveau, for the most points in playoff history with the 177th of his career. He finished his Hall of Fame career with 382 playoff points, nearly 100 more than his former teammate Mark Messier, who is second all-time.

In fact, the top four in all-time playoff scoring were all members of the 1980s dynasty in Edmonton. Gretzky leads with 382 points, Messier is second with 295, Jari Kurri’s 233 points are third all-time and Glenn Anderson is fourth with 214.

Chicago Blackhawks Set Playoff Marks

The Blackhawks and Canadiens made history in Game 3 of the 1931 Stanley Cup Final on this date. Cy Wentworth gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 victory when he scored at the 13:50 mark of the third overtime, ending the longest Stanley Cup Final game in history. It remains the longest game until the Oilers and Boston Bruins play 55:13 of overtime in the opening game of the 1990 Stanley Cup Final.

On April 9, 1972, Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull scored the final postseason hat trick of his NHL career versus the Penguins at the old Civic Center. Game 4 of their first-round playoff series went into overtime tied at 5-5. Hopefully, everyone got to their seats quickly because Pit Martin scored the fastest overtime goal in league history. Martin’s game-winning goal came just 12 seconds into the extra time as the Blackhawks completed the four-game sweep of the Penguins.

Martin still holds the record for the fastest playoff OT goal. (THW Archives)

Al Secord set a Blackhawks franchise playoff record on April 9, 1983. The physical winger racked up a total of 37 penalty minutes during a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Secord earned a minor, a major, a misconduct and two game misconducts penalties with 35 of the minutes coming in one period.

Stanley Cup Playoff Milestones

On April 9, 1942, Eddie Bush of the Detroit Red Wings set a Stanley Cup Final record for defensemen with five points. He factored in all of the Detroit Red Wings’ scoring as he scored a goal and had four assists in a 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Bush was an unlikely candidate to set this record as he had just 10 points in his career heading into this game and he would never score another point in the league after this performance. His record stood until Paul Coffey scored six points in 1985.

On April 9, 1968, Wayne Connelly of the Minnesota North Stars scored the first playoff goal off a penalty shot in NHL history. Conelly was award just the third penalty shot ever in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, late in the second period, and he beat Terry Sawchuk for the historic goal. The North Stars went on to defeat the Kings 7-5.

Bob Sauve recorded the first shutout in Buffalo Sabres playoff history, on April 9, 1980, with a 6-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Gil Perreault scored a goal and added two assists.

Six years later, on April 9, 1986, Sylvain Turgeon scored the winning goal at 2:36 of overtime to give the Whalers their first playoff win, 3-2 over the Quebec Nordiques. Turgeon, obviously, scored the first overtime goal in Whalers’ playoff history.

On April 9, 1989, Larry Robinson set an NHL record by appearing in his 186th career playoff game; a 4-3 Canadiens win over the Whalers in Game 4 of the Adams Division Semi-Finals. Robinson passed Denis Potvin, who had played 185 playoff games. He is currently seventh all-time with 227 Stanley Cup playoff games played.

Larry Robinson, Montreal Canadiens
Robinson never missed the playoffs in his NHL career. (THW Archives)

Exactly one year later, the Islanders beat the Rangers in double overtime to give head coach Al Arbour his 114th playoff win. At the time, the victory tied him with Scotty Bowman for the most wins in league history. Arbour retired with 123 playoff wins while Bowman kept on winning as he is at the top of the all-time wins list with 223.

Odd & Ends

On April 9, 1978, Bob Bourne and Potvin scored their 30th goals of the season as the Islanders tied the NHL record for most 30-goal scorers, with six. The Sabres were the first team to feature six 30-goal scorers during the 1974-75 season. The 1984-85 Winnipeg Jets became the third and last team to have six different players score 30 goals.

Joe Thornton had two assists in the San Jose Sharks 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars on April 9, 2006. The two helpers gave him 113 points on the season, the most ever by a player who was traded during that season. Bernie Nichols held the previous record when he scored 112 points in 1989-90 with the Kings and Rangers.

Joe Thornton
Thornton made history after being traded by the Bruins. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Thornton, who was traded to San Jose by the Bruins on Nov. 30, 2005, finished the season with a league-leading 125 points. He is still the only player in NHL history to win the Art Ross Trophy after being traded in the same season.

On April 9, 2015, Jaromir Jagr had two assists for the Florida Panthers in a 4-2 win over the Bruins to become just the fourth player in NHL history to score 1,800 points. He remains in rare air as he and Gretzky are the only two players to ever score at least 1,900 points.

Happy Birthday to You

There are 23 former and current NHL players celebrating their birthdays today including Arizona Coyotes head coach and 1992 Stanley Cup-winner Rick Tocchet, who is 57 today.

Rick Tocchet Arizona Coyotes
Happy Birthday, Coach Tocchet! (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Other notable players who were born on April 9 include Alexei Ponikarovsky (41), Brian Elliott (36), Michael Chaput (29), Ryan Donato (25) as well as the late Hall of Famer Ebbie Goodfellow and Jimmy Roberts.


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