March 28 is a significant date in National Hockey League history, with some of the biggest names and greatest players to ever take the ice having historical moments. Between some of the top goal-scorers and the best netminders hitting major milestones, this date belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Wayne Gretzky Sets the All-Time Mark & More
We could very easily rename this daily series “Things Wayne Gretzky Did Today” as it seems that the Great One made history every time he laced up skates. March 28 was a particularly eventful day in Gretzky’s career.
On March 28, 1982, Gretzky scored his 92nd and final goal of the season in the Edmonton Oilers’ 6-2 win at the Los Angeles Kings. His record still stands today and it shattered the previous record of 76 goals set by Phil Esposito of the Boston Bruins during the 1970-71 season. In typical fashion, he was a bit upset he didn’t score more goals.
“It was a thrill to get 92 goals, but in some ways, I thought I let myself down by not getting 100,” he said, looking back on the season. “Maybe I should have pushed myself more.”
Six years later, he had a goal and three assists in a 6-4 win at the Toronto Maple Leafs. With the trio of helpers, Gretzky hit the 100-assist mark for a record-setting eighth straight season. He would extend that streak to 11 seasons before only getting 90 assists in 1991-92.
On March 28, 1991, Gretzky had a goal and an assist in the regular-season finale against the Minnesota North Stars. He tied the Kings’ franchise record, set by Bernie Nichols seven years earlier, by scoring a point in 25 straight games. He played in 78 games during the 1990-91 season and had at least one put in all but three of them.
Five years later, Gretzky had a shorthanded goal and two assists in the St. Louis Blues’ 4-4 tie with the New Jersey Devils. The three points gave him 101 between the Kings and Blues and it was the final 100-point season of his extraordinary career. He would have 97, 90 and 62 points in his final three seasons with the New York Rangers.
A Pair of Historic Games
On March 28, 1967, the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings wrote another chapter in their long rivalry. On this particular night, two legends of the game hit personal milestones. Stan Mikita picked up his 60th assist of the season in the impressive 7-2 win for the Blackhawks. The helper broke his own record for the most assists in a single season he set two years earlier.
Meanwhile, Gordie Howe assisted on the Red Wings’ first goal of the game to become the first player in NHL history to score 1,500 points. In the last 53 years, 13 more players have scored at least 1,500 points, with the most recent being Joe Thornton.
The 3-3 tie between the Winnipeg Jets and Kings on March 28, 1993, was a huge night for rookies. Teemu Selanne scored his 70th goal of the season, becoming the first and only player to score at least 70 goals in his rookie season.
He finished the season with 76 goals, tying him with Alexander Mogilny for the most in the league. They are both still tied with Esposito, who scored 76 goals in 1970-71, for the fifth-best single-season goal total in NHL history.
In that same game, Alexei Zhamnov scored to make the Jets the first team ever to have four rookies score at least 20 goals. He joined Selanne, Evgeny Davydov and Keith Tkachuk in the 20-club that night.
Jaromir Jagr Sets European Standard
Jagr had himself quite the historic night during the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers on March 28, 1996. Jagr scored his 60th goal of the season, joining Mario Lemieux in the 60-goal club. This marked the second and final time a pair of teammates scored at least 60 goals in the same season. The only other duo to do it was Gretzky and Jari Kuri when they scored 73 and 71 goals respectively in 1984-85.
Jagr’s 60th goal gave him 140 points on the season, which were the most ever scored by a European-born player in the NHL. He broke the previous record set by Peter Stastny with the Quebec Nordiques in 1981-82. He finished the season with 149 points, which is still the best season by a player born in Europe.
Rookie Tiny Thompson became the second goaltender in NHL history to have a shutout in his Stanley Cup Final debut on March 28, 1929, when the Bruins defeated the New York Rangers 2-0 in Game 1. This was the first Final series played between two U.S.-based NHL teams.
Jacques Plante recorded his 434th and final career victory on March 28, 1973, when the Bruins beat the Rangers 6-3 at Madison Square Garden.
Grant Fuhr became the 19th goaltender in NHL history to record 250 wins on March 28, 1992, as the Toronto Maple Leafs picked up a 3-2 road win at the St. Louis Blues.
Patrick Roy became the NHL’s all-time winningest goaltender (regular-season and playoffs combined) when he wins for the 506th time in his career by beating the Kings 7-2. He finished his career with 702 total wins, which was eventually passed up by Martin Brodeur, who had 804 total wins. However, Roy’s 151 Stanley Cup playoff wins are still the most in league history.
On March 28, 2017, Braden Holtby beat the Minnesota Wild to become just the third goaltender ever to string together three straight 40-win seasons.
His streak was snapped the following season as he remains tied with Brodeur and Evgeni Nabokov for the most consecutive 40-win seasons in NHL history.
Odds & Ends
Red Wings defeated the Montreal Maroons 3-2 on March 28, 1933, to win their first NHL playoff series. In the two-game total-goal Stanley Cup series, they outscored the Maroons 5-2.
On March 28, 1944, Doug Bentley became the first player in Blackhawks history to score a hat trick in a playoff game. He added two assists to his three goals in a 7-1 win against the Red Wings in Game 4 of their Stanley Cup Semifinal series. He scored another hat trick two days later at Detroit in the series-clinching game.
Alex Delvecchio became the second player in Red Wings franchise history to score 350 career goals on March 28, 1968, in a 3-1 win over the visiting Blackhawks.
The Washington Capitals picked up the only road victory of their inaugural season on March 28, 1975, with a 5-3 win at the California Seals. Nelson Pyatt was the hero with two goals in the third period to snap Washington’s NHL-record 37-game road losing streak. Their first season ended with a 1-39-0 record in road games.
Blaine Stoughton became the first player in Hartford Whalers history to score 50 goals in an NHL season on March 28, 1980, during a 4-4 tie with the Vancouver Canucks. He became the second player to have a 50-goal season in both the World Hockey Association (WHA) and NHL. Bobby Hull was the first.
One year later, Bernie Federko picked up an assist to earn the first 100-point season in Blues history in a 7-4 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Gary Leeman became the second player in Maple Leafs history to score 50 goals in a season on March 28, 1990, in a 6-3 loss to the New York Islanders. Goal No. 50 comes in a 6-3 loss to the New York Islanders at Maple Leaf Gardens. The Islanders exploded for five third-period goals to give Al Arbour a win in his 1,277th game as an NHL head coach, to jump ahead Scotty Bowman into second place on the all-time list.
Leon Draisaitl became the first German-born player to have a 100-point on March 28, 2019, when he scored a goal and added an assist in the Oilers’ 3-2 loss at the Dallas Stars. He and Connor McDavid became the first Edmonton teammates to score 100 points in the same season since Jari Kurri and Jimmy Carson in 1988-89.
Happy Birthday to You
Mentioned earlier as one of the four Jets to have a fantastic rookie season in 1992-93, Tkachuk is celebrating his 49th birthday today. Other notable players of the 33 total born on this date include Bobby Schmautz (76), John Anderson (64), Mike Allison (60), Jeff Beukeboom (56), Erik Rasmussen (44), Logan Couture (32), Ondrej Palat (30), Nikita Nesterov (28), Colin Blackwell (28), Josh Morrissey (26) and Jonathan Drouin (26).