Today in Hockey History: May 17

May 17 is a very good date for hockey fans on Long Island and in the Steel City. However, the fans in the Twin Cities did not enjoy this date quite as much as their counterparts out east. The THW time machine is fired up and ready to take back through the decades to relive all the best moments this date has had to offer.

A New York Islanders Kind of Day

The Islanders ruled the NHL during the first half of the 1980s with four-straight Stanley Cup championships and a fifth appearance in the Final. With that being said, mid-May is a very good time for Islanders’ memories.

On May 17, 1980, Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin scored twice and added two assists as the Islanders beat the visiting Philadelphia Flyers 6-2 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The win gave them a 2-1 lead in a series they eventually won in six games.

Denis Potvin New York Islanders
Potvin did a lot of damage during the month of May. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

A year later, Butch Goring scored three times to lead a 7-5 comeback victory over the Minnesota North Stars in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Goring becomes the first player in NHL history to score a playoff hat trick with two different teams.

North Stars’ forward Dino Ciccarelli set an NHL single-playoff scoring record for rookies with his 21st point in that same game. A few years later, Ciccarelli became the first player to score playoff hat tricks with three different teams.

The Islanders took their place among the greatest dynasties in league history on May 17, 1983. They beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 to complete a four-game sweep and win their fourth Stanley Cup in as many years. Bryan Trottier, John Tonelli, and Mike Bossy all scored within a 97-second span of the first period to take early control of the game. Bossy’s goal would stand up to be the game-winner, making him the first player since Jack Darragh in 1921 to score the Cup-winning goal in back-to-back playoffs.

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Goaltender Billy Smith won the Conn Smythe Trophy for being the 1983 playoffs’ most valuable player. Smith and the Islanders did not allow Wayne Gretzky to score in the four-game series. The Great One got revenge the following year by scoring four goals when the Oilers won the Stanley Cup Final rematch in 1984.

Playoff Firsts

On May 17, 1979, Ken Dryden of the Montreal Canadiens became the first goaltender to score a point in a Stanley Cup Final game. He earned an assist on Jacques Lemaire’s third-period goal in the Canadiens 4-1 win against the New York Rangers in Game 3 of the championship series.

Ken Dryden #29 of the Montreal Canadiens
Dryden did it all in 1979. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Gretzky became the first player in NHL history to score 200 career playoff points on May 17, 1987. He hits the milestone with a goal and an assist in the Oilers’ 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Four more players have since scored at least 200 playoff points, but Gretzky still has the all-time record with 382. He is the only player to hit the 300-point plateau.

On May 17, 2021, Alex Nedeljkovic became the first rookie goalie to win a playoff game for the Carolina Hurricanes since Cam Ward in Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final against the Edmonton Oilers when his team prevailed 5-2 over the Predators in Game 1 of their 2021 first-round series. He was a finalist for the Calder Trophy that season after posting a record of 23-15-5-3 along with a 1.90 goals-against average (GAA) and .932 save percentage (SV%). He now plays for the Detroit Red Wings.

A Day of Records

Mario Lemieux had a big night on May 17, 1991, in leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-1 win over the North Stars in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. He scored a goal and later added an assist to help the Penguins even the series at 1-1. He set a franchise record with a goal in his seventh-straight postseason game and extended his team-record point streak to 15 games.

Mike Richter was only tested with 16 shots on May 17, 1994, in the Rangers’ 4-0 win versus the New Jersey Devils in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final. The shutout was his fourth of the 1994 postseason, tying a league record shared by six other goaltenders, including Dryden and Bernie Parent.

On May 17, 1995, Doug Gilmour picked up two second-period assists to pass Dave Keon as the Toronto Maple Leafs’ all-time leading playoff scorer, breaking the old record of 67 points. The pair of helpers came in a 5-4 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. He still holds the franchise record with 77 career playoff points in Toronto.

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Tyler Seguin was a big part of the Boston Bruins’ run to the 2011 Stanley Cup. On May 17, 2011, he tied an NHL playoff record for rookies for the most points in a period. He scored two goals and assists on two others during the second period of the Bruins’ 6-5 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final. He became just the second rookie to ever have four points in the same period and the first teenager to do so.

Odds & Ends

On May 17, 1992, Jaromir Jagr scored the winning goal in overtime to lead the Penguins to a 4-3 win over the visiting Bruins in Game 1 of the Wales Conference Final. It was the third-straight game of the postseason in which Jagr scored the game-winning goal.

Three years later, the Bruins fired head coach Brian Sutter, who was behind the bench for that 1992 loss to the Penguins, after three seasons with the team. Sutter’s record with the Bruins was 120-73-23 in 216 regular-season games and 7-15 in the playoffs. He was replaced by Steve Kasper, who lasted just two seasons in Boston.

Later that evening, Craig Janney scored two unassisted goals in the second period to lead the San Jose Sharks to a 5-3 win over the visiting Calgary Flames in Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. The Sharks won Game 7, two nights later, in double overtime.

Mike Modano scored in overtime on May 17, 1999, and Brett Hull picked up two assists as the Dallas Stars eliminated the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The Stars advanced to face the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Final, on their way to the first and only Stanley Cup title in franchise history.

On May 17, 2001, Martin Brodeur played in his 100th career playoff game for the Devils. He earned his 11th career shutout in a 3-0 blanking of the Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final. Brian Rafalski was the offensive hero with a goal and an assist in the first period.

Sidney Crosby picked up a hat trick, on May 17, 2013, in the Penguins’ 4-3 win against the Ottawa Senators in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. All three goals came in the first period and gave him 100 career playoff points. He is the fifth-fastest player in league history to hit the milestone as he does it in 75 games

Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins
Crosby needed just 75 games for 100 playoff points. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Marc-Andre Fleury made his final appearance in a Penguins uniform on May 17, 2017. He was pulled during the first period of the 5-1 loss to the Senators in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final. He was replaced by Matt Murray, who stayed in net for the remainder of Pittsburgh’s run to a second straight Stanley Cup. A few days after the season concludes, Fleury was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion Draft.

Happy Birthday to You

A total of 18 players who have skated in the NHL were born on May 17. The most notable of the bunch are Doug Smith (60), Jim Cummings (53), Bill Lindsay (52), Andy Andreoff (32), and John Gilmour (30).

*Originally constructed by Greg Boysen

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