The calendar flips over from April to May, which usually means more Stanley Cup playoff moments in the National Hockey League. Some of the “Original Six” franchises celebrated big moments on this date, including one very surprising stat.
May Day is Big in Montreal
May 1 has been a big date in the history of the Montreal Canadiens, which shouldn’t be a big surprise considering how many times they have played for the Stanley Cup. On May 1, 1965, they beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0, in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, to win their first championship since 1960.
Jean Beliveau set the tone by scoring just 14 seconds into the game, the fastest Cup-winning goal in playoff history. He picked up an assist five minutes later as the Canadiens scored all four of their goals in the opening period. Gump Worsley made 20 saves to become just the second goaltender in NHL history to earn a shutout in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
After the game, Beliveau is given the first-ever Conn Smythe Trophy for being the most valuable player of the 1965 postseason. He was an easy choice for the inaugural award with eight goals and 16 points in 13 playoff games.
Four years later, on May 1, 1969, goaltender Rogie Vachon recorded his first of two career playoff shutouts and Dick Duff scored two goals and an assist to lead the Canadiens to a 4-0 win over the St. Louis Blues, in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Vachon and the Canadiens completed the sweep to win their second straight Stanley Cup over the Blues.
Ken Dryden recorded his third career playoff shutout on May 1, 1975, in a 7-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres, in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. Guy Lafleur led the way offensively by scoring a hat trick. Dryden is one of just 12 NHL goaltenders to have at least 10 playoff shutouts.
On May 1, 1992, Russ Courtnall scored in double overtime to give the Canadiens a 3-2 win over the Hartford Whalers, in Game 7 of the Adams Division Semifinals. The goal was the third and final playoff overtime tally in his 16-season career.
It was not all great news for the Canadiens on this date. In 1995, as the regular-season wrapped up following an extended lockout, Montreal lost 2-0 to the Sabres. Dominik Hasek’s 13th career shutout officially eliminated the Canadiens from the playoff race. This marked the first time since 1970 where the Stanley Cup playoffs took place without the Canadiens being a part of them.
Red Wings’ Historic Day
The Detroit Red Wings are another franchise who has had their share of success on May 1, albeit, not as much as the Canadiens. On May 1, 2008, Johan Franzen capped off a huge series against the Colorado Avalanche with a hat trick in an 8-2 win, in Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
The three goals gave him a total of nine in the sweep, the most any player has scored in a four-game playoff series. He also broke the franchise record for the most goals in a playoff series of any length. That was set in 1949 when Gordie Howe scored eight goals in a seven-game series. Franzen also became the first player since Jari Jurri in 1985 to score two hat tricks in the same playoff series.
Exactly one year later, the Red Wings beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-2, in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals. They set a record by starting a playoff series at home for the 18th consecutive time. Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom scored the game-winning goal in the final minute of regulation after assisting on the team’s other two goals. This made the Red Wings the first team ever to win consecutive playoff games when scoring the winning in the final minute of the third period.
1992 was a Very Good Year
May 1, 1992, proved to be a very memorable day. Adam Graves scored two goals and picked up assists on two more as the New York Rangers beat the New Jersey Devils 8-4, in Game 7 of the Patrick Division Final. Surprisingly enough, this was the first Game 7 win in franchise history. They were 0-4 in their previous Game 7s. It was also the first Game 7 the Rangers ever hosted in their 66-year history.
Mario Lemieux had a goal and an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals, 3-1, in Game 7 of the Patrick Division Semifinals. The Penguins became just the 11th team in NHL, and the third in the last 24 hours, to win a best-of-seven playoff series after falling behind 3-1.
In Boston, Pat Lafontaine scored to become the first payer in NHL history to have at least one goal in each of his team’s first seven playoff games of a season. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the Sabres lost to the Bruins, in Game 7 of the Adams Division Semifinals.
Off the ice, the Blues fired head coach Brian Sutter and replaced him with Bob Plager. Sutter had been the winningest coach in Blues history (153-124-73 in four seasons) and had won the Jack Adams Trophy in 1991 for being the NHL’s top coach.
Odds & Ends
On May 1, 1977, Don Marcotte scored twice and Gerry Cheevers recorded his seventh career playoff shutout as the Boston Bruins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0, in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. The win finished off a four-game sweep as the Bruins advanced to the Stanley Cup Final, where they were swept by the Canadiens.
The New York Islanders made league history on May 1, 1980, with a 2-1 win at the Sabres, in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. When Bobby Nystrom scored early into the second overtime period, it gave the Islanders a playoff-record seventh straight road win. It was Nystrom’s third of four career playoff overtime goals. The Islanders won this series in six games, on their way to their first of four straight Stanley Cup victories.
On that same evening, Flyers defenseman Bob Dailey scored a goal and added four assists in a 7-0 victory over the Minnesota North Stars, in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. Goaltender Phil Myre recorded the only shutout of his playoff career.
Nikolai Borschevsky didn’t have to pay for a meal in Toronto for quite sometime after his heroics on May 1, 1993. His overtime goal gave the Maple Leafs a 4-3 victory over the Red Wings, in Game 7 of the Norris Division Semifinals. They erased two separate one-goal deficits before Doug Gilmour forced overtime with less than three minutes remaining in regulation. Borschevsky became just the second player in NHL history to score his first playoff goal in overtime of a Game 7.
Curtis McElhinney drew the start for the Carolina Hurricanes, on May 1, 2019, for Game 3 of their second-round series against the Islanders. He made 28 saves in his playoff debut to give the Hurricanes a 5-2 win and a 3-0 series lead. At 35 years and 343 days, McElhinney became the oldest goaltender to make his first postseason start. The previous record was held by Les Brinkley when he was 37 days young than McElhinney when he debuted for the Penguins in 1970.
Happy Birthday to You
There are 26 current and former NHL players who are sharing a birthday today. Among the lot are Jim Lorentz (73), Pat Conacher (61), Clint Malarchuk (59), Bryan Marchment (51), Patrick Eaves (36), David Backes (36), Freddy Gaudreau (27), Dylan DeMelo (27), Jacob Slavin (26) and William Nylander (24).