This date in National Hockey League history was one to remember for the Great One. A handful of netminders left their mark on the game. A historic contract was inked and memories were made in the Windy City. The THW time machine is fired up and ready to take us on our daily trip through the years to relive the best moments March 29 has had to offer.
Another Huge Day for Wayne Gretzky
March 29 was one of many dates where Wayne Gretzky had big moments throughout his legendary career. In 1980, as a rookie, he scored two goals and had four assists in the Edmonton Oilers’ 8-5 victory at the Toronto Maple Leafs. Don Ashby scored his first career hat trick in the win and tacked on three assists.
Gretzky picked up three assists on March 29, 1981, in the Edmonton Oilers’ 5-2 win at the Pittsburgh Penguins. The performance gave him 152 points on the season, breaking the single-season record of 151 set by Phil Esposito in 1970-71
Two years later, Gretzky had another three-assist game to break his own single-season record with 121 assists. He finished the season with 125 helpers. That record only lasted two years as he broke it with his 126th and 127th assists of the season in a 7-4 win at the Vancouver Canucks. He finished the 1984-85 season with 135 assists.
On March 29, 1999, Gretzky scored a goal in the New York Rangers’ 3-1 win over the New York Islanders. The goal was the 1072nd of his professional career, including the regular season, playoffs, and his one season in the World Hockey Association. He, once again, broke the all-time mark of Gordie Howe, who had 1071 total goals in the NHL and WHA.
Chicago Blackhawks’ Greats Shine
After assisting on the opening goal on March 29, 1953, Al Dewsbury scored in overtime to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals.
On March 29, 1970, Tony Esposito picked up his 15th shutout of the season in a 4-0 win over the Maple Leafs. The 15 shutouts were the most in a single season since 1929 and the most ever by a rookie goaltender. Since this date, only four goaltenders have had more than 10 shutouts in a season. Dominik Hasek had 13 in 1997-98. Bernie Parent had 12 shutouts in 1973-74 and again in 1974-75. Hasek had 11 shutouts in 2001-01 while Martin Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist also had 11 in 2003-04 and 2010-11, respectively.
On March 29, 1972, Eric Nesterenko scored the 250th and final goal of his career in a 5-5 tie against the Montreal Canadiens. After starting his career with the Maple Leafs, Nesterenko played 16 seasons with the Blackhawks. He was part of their 1961 Stanley Cup championship team, and his 207 goals are 20th all-time in franchise history.
Stan Mikita made history on March 29, 1978, by scoring his 1,400th career point with a goal in a 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. At the time, he was third in all-time NHL scoring only behind Howe and Esposito.
Denis Savard picked up an assist on March 29, 1985, in the Blackhawks 5-5 with the Winnipeg Jets for the third 100-point season of his career.
On March 29, 1992, Jeremy Roenick scored a goal and had two assists in a 5-1 win over the Maple Leafs to become the fourth player in Blackhawks history to get 100 points in a season.
Priakin’s Contract Makes History
On March 29, 1989, Sergei Priakin, a four-year veteran of the Soviet National Team, signed a contract with the Calgary Flames to become the first player allowed by the Soviet Hockey Federation to play in the NHL. He made his debut two days later against the Winnipeg Jets.
Priakin played in two regular-season games and just once in the postseason. He did not play in enough playoff games or in the Stanley Cup Final in order to get his name on the Stanley Cup after the Flames won it that spring. He ended playing in just 46 NHL games over three seasons, scoring three goals and 11 points, before heading back to Europe.
A Huge Date Between the Pipes
On March 29, 1970, Gump Worsley became the sixth goaltender in NHL history to record 300 career victories. The 300th win milestone came in the Minnesota North Stars 8-3 win over the Oakland Seals. Since this date, 30 more goaltenders have joined the 300-win club.
Gerry Cheevers lost his first game in 33 starts on March 29, 1972, as his 32-game personal unbeaten streak (24-0-8) came to an end as the Boston Bruins lost 4-1 at the Maple Leafs.
On March 29, 1986, 19-year-old rookie Bill Ranford made his NHL debut after being recalled from his junior team, the New Westminster Bruins, and led Boston to a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. This was the first of his 647 NHL games and 240 victories.
Brodeur made New Jersey Devils history on March 29, 1994, by setting a franchise rookie record with his 25th win of the season. He hit the milestone by beating his hometown Canadiens.
On March 29, 2000, Patrick Roy became the first goaltender in league history to win 30 games in a season 10 times during his NHL career. The 30th win of the season came in a Colorado Avalanche 3-2 victory over the Oilers.
One year later, Felix Potvin became the fifth goaltender in NHL history to win 10 or more games with two teams in one season, when the Kings beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0. Potvin had previously won 14 games with Canucks before being traded to the Kings in February.
On March 29, 2018, Scott Foster became a household name for Blackhawks fans. Foster, a 36-year-old accountant, is dressed as the team’s emergency backup goaltender after Anton Forsberg injures himself during the morning skate.
Foster took the United Center ice with 14:01 left to play in the third period after Collin Delia cramps up and is forced to leave the game. He stopped all seven shots he faced in the Blackhawks 6-2 win over the visiting Jets.
Odds & Ends
The Canadiens set a new NHL record for most wins in a season on March 29, 1969, with No. 46 coming in a 5-3 victory over the visiting Bruins. They broke the record set by the 1955-56 Habs.
Bobby Clarke became the first player from an expansion team to score 100 points in a season on March 29, 1973, with a goal in the Philadelphia Flyers’ 4-2 win against the Atlanta Flames. Eight years later, Clarke picked up his 700th career assist in a 4-1 win at the Hartford Whalers. His teammate, Paul Holmgren, scored his 100th NHL goal in the victory.
Two years later, the Canadiens become the first team in NHL history to win 1,000 home games by beating the Kansas City Scouts 4-1 at the Forum. Guy Lafleur scores his 50th goal for the first of six straight seasons, an NHL record at the time.
Butch Goring picked up an assist on March 29, 1978m to become the first member of the Kings to score 500 career points during a 5-1 loss to the Blackhawks.
Mike Bossy recorded his 81st assist on March 29, 1982, to set an NHL single-season record for assists by right wings. The record-setting helper came on Denis Potvin’s power-play goal in the Islanders’ 7-3 win at the Rangers.
Speaking of the Rangers, on March 29, 1989, Brian Leetch set an NHL record for most goals by a rookie defenseman when he scored his 23rd of the season during a 4-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. He broke the previous record set by Barry Beck of the Colorado Rockies in 1977-78
Glenn Anderson set an Oilers team record with his 126th career power-play goal on March 29, 1991, in a 6-5 overtime loss to the visiting Flames. He broke the previous record of 125 power-play goals set by Gretzky.
Mario Lemieux scored twice on March 29, 2001, to set a new NHL record for most career goals by a player who spent his entire career with one team. He moved ahead of Steve Yzerman, who scored 646 goals with the Red Wings, in a 5-2 Penguins win over the visiting Blackhawks.
On March 29, 2019, the St. Louis Blues became the seventh team in NHL history to earn a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after being last in the overall standings after Jan. 1. They clinched a postseason berth with the Avalanche’s 3-2 shootout win over the Arizona Coyotes. That win also punched the Vegas Golden Knights’ ticket to the postseason. They joined the Oilers as the only teams 1979-80 to make the postseason in each of their first two seasons.
Happy Birthday to You
The late Frank Mathers is the lone Hall of Famer born on this date, among 29 current and former NHL players. Other notable names of this lot include Jon Casey (59), Adam Pardy (37), Maxim Lapierre (36), Adam Lowry (28), Tom Wilson (27), Travis Sanheim (25), Clark Bishop (25), Brett Howden (23) and the late Brad McCrimmon.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.