Today in Hockey History: May 24

The top three National Hockey League teams you think of when it comes to dynasties all won Stanley Cups on this date. Today is also the anniversary of the most memorable playoff game that never happened. Let’s begin our daily trip back in time to enjoy all the best moments May 24 has given us over the years.

A Long Island Dynasty Begins

We have written quite a bit about the New York Islanders over the past few weeks. When you win four straight Stanley Cups, you will have a lot of memories during April and May.

On May 24, 1980, the biggest memory of them all happened when the Islanders beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Bobby Nystrom scored seven minutes into overtime to give the Islanders their first championship in franchise history. Lorne Henning caused the biggest turnover of his career and got the puck over to John Tonelli. With the Flyers focused on Tonelli, Nystrom cut to the net and scored the Cup-clinching goal.

The Flyers were the team to beat, heading into the 1980 Stanley Cup playoffs as they finished the regular season with 116 points. They also set an NHL record with a stretch of 35 straight games without a loss, winning 25 and tying in the other 10.

Islanders’ forward Bryan Trottier won the Conn Smythe Trophy for being the postseason’s most valuable player. He had 12 goals and 29 points in 21 games. He was the first of four different Conn Smythe winners for the Islanders during their early 1980s dynasty.

Boston Hates the Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers and Boston Bruins played a pair of Stanley Cup Final games on this date, in 1988 and again in 1990. The first meeting, on May 24, 1988, was one of the most memorable games in playoff history, which officially never happened.

With less than four minutes to play in the second period of Game 4, and seconds after the Oilers tied the game at 3-3, the Boston Garden went black. When it became clear that the power cannot be restored, league president John Zeigler announced that the game would have to be replayed, yet the scoring totals would still count.

The suspended game never needed to be made up as the Oilers won the next game, in Edmonton, to complete a four-game sweep and win the Stanley Cup.

The Oilers were back in the Boston Garden on May 24, 1990, for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Bruins. Glenn Anderson, Craig Simpson, Steve Smith, and Joe Murphy all scored in a 4-1 victory to give the Oilers their fifth championship in the last seven seasons. Goaltender Bill Ranford, a former Bruin, won the Conn Smythe Trophy.

A Special Date in Vancouver

The Vancouver Canucks have made it to three Stanley Cup Finals in their franchise history. Two of those three trips were booked on this date. On May 24, 1994, they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3, in double-overtime, in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. The Maple Leafs held a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes, but the Canucks stormed back to tie the game. Greg Adams scored 14 seconds into the second overtime to send the Canucks back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1982.

They would not return to the championship series again until May 24, 2011, and they did it again with another double-overtime victory. This time, they knocked off the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. After Ryan Kesler tied the game with 13.2 seconds left in regulation, defenseman Kevin Bieksa won the game off a crazy bounce off the glass, 10 minutes into the second overtime.

A Pair of Pittsburgh Penguins Playoff Wins

On May 24, 2013, James Neal scored a hat trick in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 6-2 win over the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The victory advanced the Penguins into the Eastern Conference Final, and it was their first series-clinching win on home ice since 2009.

Pittsburgh Penguins 2012 Neal Kunitz Crosby
Neal (center) and the Penguins advanced on this date in 2013. (Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE)

Three years later, the Penguins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final. The win forced a seventh and final game back in Pittsburgh, which the Penguins eventually won. The Penguins took a 3-0 lead into the final frame before Brian Boyle made things interesting with a pair of early third-period goals. Brian Rust and Nick Bonino added insurance goals in the final two minutes of play.

Odds & Ends

On May 24, 1966, Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jacques Laperriere was named the winner of the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman in the 1965-66 season. This was the one, and only Norris Trophy won by Laperriere won in his Hall of Fame career. He is one of six Canadiens’ defenders to win the prestigious award.

The Bruins fired head coach Don Cherry on May 24, 1979, after five seasons behind the bench. He won 231 games during his time in Boston, taking the Bruins to back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals in 1978 and 1979. He won the Jack Adams Award for being voted the NHL’s best coach for the 1975-76 season.

Don Cherry
Cherry’s time with the Bruins ended on this date in 1979. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese)

Mike Keenan received his first NHL coaching job on May 24, 1984, when he was named the new head coach of the Flyers, replacing Bob McCammon.

Keenan was behind the Flyers bench on May 24, 1987, when the Flyers set a new NHL record by playing in their 23rd playoff game of the year. Unfortunately, they suffered a 4-1 loss to the visiting Oilers in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, with Wayne Gretzky picking up three assists.

Going back to May 24, 1986, the Canadiens beat the Calgary Flames 4-3 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. Bobby Smith scored the game-winning goal as Montreal won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1979. Rookie goaltender Patrick Roy is awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Patrick Roy of the Montreal Canadiens
Roy won two Stanley Cups in Montreal. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

On May 24, 1989, the New York Rangers fired Phil Esposito as both their general manager and coach. Neil Smith was later named their new general manager, and Roger Neilson took over behind the bench.

Roy recorded his third shutout of the 1997 playoffs and the 11th of his career, as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Detroit Red Wings 6-0 on May 24, 1997, in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Valeri Kamensky picked up four assists in the blowout victory.

On that same date, the Maple Leafs fired general manager Cliff Fletcher. He was replaced two months later by Canadiens Hall of Fame goaltender Ken Dryden.

Finally, on May 24, 2000, the New Jersey Devils beat the visiting Flyers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final to force a seventh and final game. Claude Lemieux scored the 80th playoff goal of his career, while Alexander Mogilny scored his first career postseason game-winning goal.

Happy Birthday to You

May 24 is the birth date of 29 players who have skated in the NHL at one time or another. The most notable of the bunch are Pat Verbeek (57), Kris Draper (50), Guillaume Latendresse (34), Artem Anisimov (33), Mattias Ekholm (31), Cody Eakin (30), Pius Suter (25), Brendan Menell (24) along with the late Lionel Conacher and Bruce Gamble.


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