Today in Hockey History: May 16

The most successful team in the National Hockey League made a lot of noise on this date throughout the years. May 16 also featured plenty of overtime drama, broken records, and raised Stanley Cups. Let’s begin our daily journey back in time to relive all the best moments.

Montreal Canadiens Rule the Day

When you’ve won as many Stanley Cups as the Canadiens have, you are going to have a lot of memories during the month of May. On May 16, 1971, Jean Beliveau picked up two assists in a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. These were the final two points of Beliveau’s legendary career as he announced his retirement shortly after the Canadiens won Game 7. He retired with 176 career playoff points, which were the most in NHL history at the time.

The Canadiens ended the two-year championship run of the Philadelphia Flyers on May 16, 1976. Guy Lafleur and Wayne Stephenson scored in the third period to lead the way to a 5-3 win, completing a four-game sweep. This was Montreal’s 19th Stanley Cup win and their first of four straight. This began a run of dynasties in the NHL where only three different teams won the next 13 Stanley Cups.

Guy Lafleur #10 of the Montreal Canadiens
1976 was a big year for Lafleur. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Despite being on the losing end of the four-game sweep, Flyers forward Reggie Leach was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for being the most valuable player of the postseason. He set a record with 19 goals during the Flyers’ playoff run. He remains the only non-goalie skater to win the Conn Smythe without winning the Stanley Cup.

On May 16, 1978, the Canadiens and Ken Dryden extended their team and goalie playoff records with their 11th straight win in the Stanley Cup Final. Lafleur scored in overtime to secure a 3-2 win over the visiting Boston Bruins in Game 2 of the Final.

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John LeClair had a big day for the Canadiens on May 16, 1993, during another championship run in Montreal. He scored two goals to lead the way in a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders in Game 1 of the Wales Conference Final. It was the Canadiens’ ninth consecutive playoff victory, matching a club record set in 1978.

Not All Bad News for the Philadelphia Flyers

Despite losing the 1980 Stanley Cup Final on this date, the Flyers had a pair of big postseason wins on May 16. In 1985, goaltender Pelle Lindbergh recorded his third and final playoff shutout in the Flyers’ 3-0 win over the Quebec Nordiques in Game 6 of the Wales Conference Final.

Flyers Best Goalie
Lindbergh earned a shutout on May 16, 1985. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Dave Poulin scored a goal while the Flyers had two men in the penalty box. The win put Philadelphia back in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in five seasons.

On May 16, 1997, the Flyers scored on two of their first three shots. Eric Lindros and LeClair each picked up three assists in the 3-1 win over the visiting New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Overtime Magic

Steve Yzerman scored one of the most memorable goals in Red Wings’ history on May 16, 1996. Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Red Wings and St. Louis Blues needed a second overtime before the lone goal of the game was scored. Goaltenders Chris Osgood and Jon Casey kept the game scoreless through 80 minutes of play. Just over a minute into the second overtime, Yzerman’s slap shot from just inside the blue line found its way past Casey to get Detroit into the next round.

The Blues were on the winning side of a double-overtime goal on May 16, 2001. Scott Young scored at 10:27 of the second overtime for a 4-3 victory against the visiting Colorado Avalanche in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. The Blues outshot the Avalanche 60-33 in the game.

On May 16, 2016, Sidney Crosby needed just 40 seconds of overtime to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final. Crosby’s first career playoff overtime goal snapped a streak of eight consecutive games without a goal for the Penguins’ captain.

On May 16, 2021, Ilya Sorokin made 39 saves in a 4-3 overtime win in Game 1 of the playoffs to tie Kelly Hrudey for the most by an Islanders rookie in the postseason. He also became the second rookie in franchise history to win his first playoff game, joining Glenn Resch. Kyle Palmieri helped the cause by scoring his second goal of the game at the 16:30 mark of the first overtime.

On that same night, Wild goaltender Cam Talbot made 42 saves in a 1-0 blanking of the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of the 2021 Playoffs to move into third on the “most saves in a playoff game” list. He joined Niklas Backstrom (44 in 2008), Josh Harding (43 in 2013) and Manny Fernandez (43 in 2003) in the feat. The shutout also put him in rare company as the Wild was his third team to record a playoff shutout with (Flames and Oilers were the others). The win was also in overtime as Joel Eriksson Ek scored at 3:20 to send the Wild home with a 1-0 series lead.

Odds & Ends

Jack Adams, a legendary name in the sport, was named the general manager of the Detroit Cougars on May 16, 1927. He would remain in that position for the next 35 years as the Cougars eventually became the Red Wings in 1932. Today, the Jack Adams Award is given to the NHL’s top coach at the end of each season.

The Islanders beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on May 16, 1982, in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. The win made them the first U.S.-based NHL team ever to win three straight championships. Mike Bossy scored two goals to bring his 1982 postseason total up to 17 and wins the Conn Smythe Trophy for his efforts. The Canucks scored just one goal in their two home games versus the Islanders.

Islanders Dynasty
The Islanders won their third-straight Stanley Cup on May 16, 1982. (THW Archives)

Jari Kurri’s incredible 1985 postseason continued on this date. He scored four goals in an 8-2 win over the Blackhawks in Game 6 of the Campbell Conference Final. Kurri became the first player in NHL history to have three hat tricks in the same playoff year. Wayne Gretzky picked up assists on all four of his tallies.

On May 16, 1989, the Bruins hired Mike Milbury as their new head coach, replacing Terry O’Reilly, while the Hartford Whalers fired their coach, Larry Pleau. Milbury became the Bruins’ 18th coach and would 90-49-21 in his two seasons behind the bench, leading them to the 1989 Stanley Cup Final.

Jeremy Roenick and Steve Larmer each scored twice and added two assists on May 16, 1992, as the Blackhawks beat the Oilers 8-2 in Game 1 of the Campbell Conference Final. The Blackhawks swept the series to advance to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1973.

Steve Larmer
Larmer came up big on this date in 1992. (THW Archives)

Patrick Roy made 36 saves on May 16, 1999, for his 12th career playoff shutout. The performance came in the Colorado Avalanche’s 3-0 win against the visiting Red Wings in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

On May 16, 2018, Jonathan Marchessault became the first player in NHL playoff history to score in both the first and last minute of a game. His goals were the difference in the Vegas Golden Knights’ 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. Mark Scheifele scored two goals in the losing effort, giving him an NHL-record 11 road goals during the postseason.

Happy Birthday to You

There are 20 current and former NHL players who are sharing a birthday today. Among them are Floyd Smith (88), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (47), Kyle Wellwood (41), Tomas Fleischmann (40), Corey Perry (39), Jeff Skinner (32), Jalen Chatfield (28) as well as the late Rick Rypien.

*Originally constructed by Greg Boysen