May 5 has seen its fair share of milestones and big moments throughout the history of the National Hockey League. The league’s most successful franchise racked up more postseason victories, while playoff records were broken and some of the game’s all-time great players left their mark.
Happy Times for the Habs
When you’ve won the most Stanley Cups in NHL history, as the Montreal Canadiens have, you’ve won a lot of games during the month of May. On May 5, 1966, the Canadiens beat the Detroit Red Wings, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, to win their second straight championship and 15th in franchise history.
After the Red Wings won the first two games of the series in Montreal, the Canadiens won four straight contests to take home the Cup. Henri Richard entered Game 6 with zero goals in the 1966 playoffs, but that ended at the 2:20 mark of overtime. The game-winner was the one and only overtime goal in Richard’s career. Red Wings goaltender Roger Crozier won the Conn Smythe Trophy for being the MVP of the playoffs.
On May 5, 1977, Bob Gainey scored twice to lead the Canadiens to a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals. With the win, they advanced to the Final against the Boston Bruins, which they won in four games.
Two years later, defenseman Larry Robinson scored a goal and added two assists to lead the Canadiens to a 5-1 win over the visiting Boston Bruins, in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. They went on to win the series in seven games before beating the New York Rangers for their fourth-straight Stanley Cup.
The Canadiens had no business winning Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, on May 5, 2002. Despite being outshot 46-16 by the Carolina Hurricanes, they won 4-1 thanks to the heroics of goaltender Jose Theodore and Doug Gilmore’s 60th career postseason goal.
Orr Collects More Hardware
On May 5, 1970, Bobby Orr had two assists to raise his playoff total point to 18, a new record for defensemen in a single playoff, breaking Tim Horton’s mark of 16. The milestone helpers came in the Bruins’ 6-2 win over the St. Louis Blues, in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. He finished the postseason with 24 points.
That record stood until Denis Potvin scored 24 points for the Islanders in 1981. Paul Coffey destroyed that record with his 37 points during the Edmonton Oilers’ run to the 1985 Stanley Cup.
Two years later, Orr became the first player in NHL history to win the Hart Trophy in three straight seasons. He also became the first NHL player to win the Norris Trophy five straight years. This was the last of his three career Hart Trophies, but he won the Norris three more times.
Islanders Leave Their Mark
On May 5, 1981, the Islanders completed a four-game over the Rangers with a 5-2 win at Madison Square Garden. Mike Bossy picked up a pair of goals in the first period to set an all-time high. Between the regular season and playoffs, Bossy scored 81 goals, the most in an NHL season. He broke the previous record of 80 goals set by Reggie Leach of the Philadelphia Flyers during the 1975-76 regular season and playoffs.
Three years later, Billy Smith became the NHL’s all-time leader in career playoff victories with a 4-1 win over the Canadiens. His 81st career Stanley Cup playoff win moved him one ahead of Ken Dryden. His 88 career postseason wins are still good enough for fourth all-time.
Odds & Ends
On May 5, 1974, the Flyers made history by eliminating the Rangers with a 4-3 win, in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. They became the first team from the 1967 expansion class to win a playoff series over an “Original Six” franchise. They went on to beat another charter member of the NHL, the Bruins, to win their first of back-to-back Stanley Cup championships.
Rookie Dino Ciccarelli scored a hat trick, on May 5, 1981, in the Minnesota North Stars’ 7-4 win over the Calgary Flames, in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals. He later became the first player in NHL history to score playoff hat tricks with three different teams by repeating the feat with the Washington Capitals and Red Wings.
Peter Stastny continued his hot streak on May 5, 1985. Just three days after eliminating the Canadiens with an overtime goal, he struck again versus the Flyers, in Game 1 of the Wales Conference Finals. His second straight overtime goal came 6:20 into the extra session for the 2-1 Quebec Nordiques victory. The Flyers regrouped and eventually won the series in six games.
On May 5, 1993, goaltender Curtis Joseph took center stage, in Game 2 of the Norris Division Final, by making 57 saves in the Blues’ 2-1 double-overtime win at the Toronto Maple Leafs. Jeff Brown ended the game three minutes into the fifth period with the only playoff overtime goal of his 13-season career.
One year later, Mike Richter recorded his fifth career playoff shutout during the Rangers’ memorable run to the 1994 Stanley Cup. The Rangers won their franchise-record seventh playoff game in a row with a 3-0 shutout at the Capitals, in Game 3 of Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Steve Yzerman tied a Red Wings’ team playoff record with five points (two goals and three assists) on May 5, 1996. The big performance led the Red Wings to an 8-3 win over the visiting Blues, in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Joe Sakic’s power-play goal on May 5, 2000, gave him 100 playoff points in his Hall of Fame career. His goal opened the scoring in a 4-2 win over the Red Wings, in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals, eliminating them from the playoffs.
A decade later, Dustin Byfuglien had a breakout performance with a hat trick to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks, in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals. With one goal in each period, Byfuglien became the first member of the Blackhawks to register a postseason hat trick on the road since Bobby Hull in 1972.
On May 5, 2013, Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored the first three playoff goals of his career in the Ottawa Senators’ 6-1 victory over the Canadiens, in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. He joined Wayne Gretzky, Peter Zezel, Patrick Kane and Sean Couturier as the only players since 1968 to score a playoff hat trick before his 21st birthday.
Things were not looking great for the Anaheim Ducks on May 5, 2017, as they trailed the Oilers 3-0, in Game 5 of their second-round series, with less than four minutes to play.
Ryan Getzlaf breathed some life into the Honda Center by getting the Ducks on the board with 3:16 remaining in regulation. Cam Fowler drew them to within one goal before Rickard Rakell tied it with just 15 ticks left on the clock. All three goals were scored with goaltender John Gibson on the bench for an extra attacker.
The game remained tied at 3-3 until 6:53 into the second overtime when Corey Perry completed the epic comeback.
The Ducks became the just the second team to win a game in overtime after trailing by three goals with less than four minutes to play in regulation. Oddly enough, the other team to do it was the Oilers in 1997.
Happy Birthday to You
There are 28 current and former NHL players who can claim Cinco de Mayo as their birthday. Some of the bigger names include Willy Lindstrom (69), Mike Stapleton (54), Mikael Renberg (48), Ziggy Palffy (48), Johan Hedberg (47), Darcy Kuemper (30), Rickard Rakell (27), Mitch Marner (23), Jordan Kyrou (22) and Klim Kostin (21).