Some of the greatest goaltenders to ever play the game had huge moments on this date, including a record that will likely never be broken. A hockey legend won his first and only scoring title and an American-born player scored 100 points for the first time in National Hockey League history. We have the THW time machine fired up, so let’s take our daily journey back through the decades.
Tony Esposito Sets the Bar High
Tony Esposito was one of the best goaltenders of his generation. During his Hall of Fame career, which spanned from 1968 to 1984, he won 423 games to go along with his 2.93 goals-against average (GAA) and .906 SV%. He was a five-time All-Star and took home three Vezina Trophies for being the league’s top goaltender.
After playing 13 games with the Montreal Canadiens during the 1968-69 season, he was claimed by the Chicago Blackhawks in the Intra-League Draft. On March 26, 1970, Esposito shutout the Detroit Red Wings to pick up his 14th shutout of the season, breaking Harry Lumley’s “modern” record for most shutouts in a season. He finished the season with 15 shutouts, which is the record for the most by a rookie goaltender, on his way to winning the Calder Trophy as the rookie of the year and his first Vezina Trophy for being voted as the best netminder in the league.
He finished his career with 76 shutouts, the seventh-most in NHL history. Since then, three goaltenders have passed him up and he sits tied for 10th all-time with another former Blackhawk, Ed Belfour.
Exactly 10 years later, on March 26, 1980, Esposito was in net for the Blackhawks’ 7-2 win at the Quebec Nordiques, the franchise’s first-ever win in Quebec City. The victory was his 30th of the season, making him the first goaltender to ever have eight 30-win seasons.
More Goaltending Legends Grab the Spotlight
Johnny Bower became the first Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltender to get an assist in a Stanley Cup Playoff game on March 26, 1963, when he had the primary helper on Bob Pulford’s opening goal in a 3-1 win over the Canadiens.
Speaking of the Canadiens, on March 26, 1977, Ken Dryden recorded his 35th career shutout by beating the Red Wings 4-0. The win extended Montreal’s league-record home undefeated streak to 32 consecutive games (27-0-5).
Martin Brodeur made his NHL debut on March 26, 1992, with a 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins. This was his first of 691 career wins, the most in league history.
Patrick Roy picked up his 505th career victory, regular season and playoffs combined, on March 26, 1999, in the Colorado Avalanche’s 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals. This tied him with Jacques Plante for the most combined victories in NHL history.
Ted Lindsay’s Best Season Includes Record
The Red Wings have produced some of the biggest names and best players in NHL history over the decades. Ted Lindsay is right near the top of that list with 335 goals and 728 points in 862 games with Detroit. He was a big part of four Stanley Cup wins during the 1950s.
The first of those championships came in 1950 following a spectacular regular season for Lindsay. On March 26, 1950, he picked up his league-leading 55th assist during a 5-4 loss to the Blackhawks in the regular-season finale.
The assist broke the single-season record that Elmer Lach of the Canadiens previously held. Lindsay won his first and only Art Ross Trophy for leading the league with 78 points. His linemates, Sid Abel and Gordie Howe, finished second and third in scoring in the NHL. They weren’t called the Production Line by accident.
Mario Lemieux’s Super Day
Lemieux scored his 26th career hat trick on March 26, 1991, to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-1 win at the Philadelphia Flyers. This was the first hat trick by a Penguins’ player at the Flyers in the team’s 75th trip to Philadelphia.
Three years later, Lemieux became the 21st player in NHL history to score 1,200 career points when he had a goal and an assist in the Penguins’ 5-3 road loss at the Calgary Flames.
Finally, on March 26, 1996, Lemieux scored five times to lead Pittsburgh to an 8-4 win over the St. Louis Blues. This was the fourth five-goal game of his career, tying Wayne Gretzky for the most in NHL history.
Overtime Playoff Magic
Stewart Adams scored at 19:20 of overtime on March 26, 1931, to lead the Blackhawks to a 2-1 win over the Maple Leafs in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Quarterfinals. This was the first win and overtime goal in Chicago playoff history.
Four years later, Baldy Northcott scored a power-play goal in overtime to give the Montreal Maroons a 1-0 win at the Blackhawks in Game 2 of their Stanley Cup Quarterfinal series. This was just the second overtime power-play goal in Stanley Cup history.
Marty Barry scored the second power-play overtime goal in NHL history on March 26, 1939, to give the Red Wings a 1-0 win over the Canadiens in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Quarterfinals. Goaltender Tiny Thompson earned his seventh final playoff shutout.
Murray Balfour scored the eighth power-play overtime goal in playoff history on March 26, 1961, as the Blackhawks beat the Canadiens 2-1 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. The goal came just 28 seconds after Dickie Moore was sent to the penalty box. Goaltender Glenn Hall was the star of the night with 53 saves in the winning effort.
The Awesome 80s
Marcel Dionne assisted on a Charlie Simmer goal on March 26, 1983, to become the first player in NHL history to record seven 100-point seasons, as the Los Angeles Kings lost 9-3 at the Edmonton Oilers.
On March 26, 1985, Jari Kurri became the third player in NHL history to score 70 goals in a season. Goal No. 70 came with just one second left in the Oilers’ 7-5 victory against the New York Islanders. This was Edmonton’s first win at the Nassau Coliseum in 10 tries. Defenseman Paul Coffey had two goals and an assist for his second straight 100-point season.
A year later, Neal Broten made NHL history in the Minnesota North Stars 6-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. With his two assists, Broten became the first American-born player to score 100 points in a season. He finished the season with a career-high 105 points, the only 100-point season of his career. His 923 career points are the 12th most in NHL history by a player born in the United States.
Jimmy Carson scored a hat trick on March 26, 1988, to help lead the Los Angeles Kings in a 9-5 win over the Blackhawks. His second goal of the game made him the second-youngest player all-time to score 50 goals in a season. His four-point night gave him 100 points on the season. Carson finished the 1987-88 season with 55 goals and 107 points. In August of 1988, he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in the historic deal that brought Wayne Gretzky to the Kings. He had 49 goals and 100 points in his first season with the Oilers but never reached that plateau again.
On that same night in 1988, Hakan Loob had three assists, and Mike Bullard had one in the Flames’ 6-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks, as both players hit 100 points on the season. This was the third time in league history where a pair of teammates scored their 100th point in the same game.
A year later, Joe Mullen scored four goals, including a natural hat trick in the third period, to give him 300 NHL goals. His sixth career hat trick led the Flames to a 7-5 road win at the Blackhawks.
Odds & Ends
The Maple Leafs set a playoff record for most power-play goals in one period on March 26, 1936, scoring four in the second against the Boston Bruins. Charlie Conacher was the offensive hero with three goals and an assist in Toronto’s 8-3 win in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Quarterfinals.
Cam Neely scored twice for his second straight 50-goal season on March 26, 1991, in a 7-4 Bruins’ win at the Quebec Nordiques. He became the 18th player in NHL history to score at least 50 goals in back-to-back seasons.
Mike Gartner scored twice to become the first NHL player to score at least 30 goals in 15 straight seasons on March 26, 1994, in the Maple Leafs’ 6-3 win over the visiting Nordiques.
On March 26, 1997, the NHL announced that the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Canucks would open the 1997-98 season with two games in Japan, the first regular-season games in league history played outside North America.
Brian Rolston scored a shorthanded goal on March 26, 2002, to lead the Bruins to a 4-2 road victory at the Carolina Hurricanes. This was his eighth shorthanded goal of the season, breaking a team record he shared with four other players.
The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Avalanche on March 26, 2018, to become the first expansion team since 1967-68 to clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff berth in its first NHL season. They went on to win the Pacific Division and make a memorable postseason run all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.
Happy Birthday to You
A talented group of 27 current and former NHL players were born on March 26 over the year. The most notable names of this bunch are Ulf Samuelsson (57), Luck Richardson (52), Trevor Kidd (49), Michael Peca (47), Jimmy Howard (37), Connor Murphy (28), Brady Skjei (27), Andrei Svechnikov (21) and the late Barclay Plager.