The teams from the Empire State has enjoyed quite a bit of success on this date throughout the years. May 8 has also provided some “Original Six” memories, big performances by rookies and Hall of Fame milestones.
A New York State of Mind
This has been a big date in hockey history through the state of New York. Jim Lorentz scored one of the biggest goals on Buffalo Sabres’ history on May 8, 1975. His second-period goal proved to be the game-winner in a 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. The victory sent the Sabres to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history, something they have only done one other time since.
On May 8, 1979, the New York Rangers hosted the New York Islanders for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. Ron Greschner scored the game-winning goal as the Rangers beat their rivals from Long Island 2-1, to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
One year later, it was the Sabres’ turn to beat the Islanders in the Stanley Cup Semifinals. Despite getting just 15 shots on goal, the Sabres won the game 2-0. Goaltender Bob Sauve made 22 to earn the second playoff shutout of his career.
The Islanders finally got into the win column on this date when they hosted Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on May 8, 1982. After tying the game late in the third period, Mike Bossy completed his hat trick with just two seconds remaining in overtime to beat the Vancouver Canucks 6-5. The Canucks were the first team to represent Vancouver in the Stanley Cup Final since the Vancouver Maroons of the old WCHL in 1924. The Islanders went on to sweep the series to win their third straight championship.
On May 8, 1993, Tom Fitzgerald scored the fastest pair of postseason shorthanded goals in the Islanders’ 6-5 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins, in Game 4 of the Patrick Division Final. His goals came while the Islanders were killing off the same penalty, just 42 seconds apart. The first came with just 17 seconds left in the second period before Fitzgerald beat Tom Barrasso again, 25 seconds into the final frame.
Mark Messier made NHL history on May 8, 1995, when he joined his former teammates, Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri, as the only three players to score 100 Stanley Cup playoff goals. His milestone goal came during the Rangers’ 8-3 win over the Quebec Nordiques, in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Blackhawks Make Memories
On May 8, 1973, the Chicago Blackhawks and Canadiens played in the highest-scoring Stanley Cup Final game in league history. Despite two Hall of Fame goaltenders in net, in Ken Dryden and Tony Esposito, the Blackhawks win Game 5 8-7, in the Montreal Forum.
Stan Mikita scored two goals and picked up a pair of assists for the Blackhawks. They also got two goals from Jim Pappin, while Lou Angotti scored the game-winning tally in the third period. Claude Larose scored twice in the losing effort for the Canadiens. The 15 combined goals remain the most ever scored in a Final game.
May 8, 1992, the Blackhawks continued their march the Stanley Cup Final. Goaltender Ed Belfour recorded his first playoff shutout as they beat the Detroit Red Wings 1-0, in Game 4 of the Norris Division Finals. The victory finished off a four-game sweep of their rivals as the Blackhawks advanced to the Campbell Conference Final against the Edmonton Oilers.
Belfour had another huge game, in a losing effort, on May 8, 1996, in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals. He made 54 saves, but it wasn’t enough as Joe Sakic’s second goal of the game, 4:33 into the third overtime, gave the visiting Colorado Avalanche a 3-2 win.
On May 8, 1970, Boston Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr wins the Hart Trophy for being voted as the league’s most valuable player. He became the first blueliner to take home the award since Babe Pratt did it with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1944.
This was the first of three straight Hart Trophies for Orr. He was also given his third straight Norris Trophy, for being the top defenseman in the NHL, on this date. Chris Pronger is the only defenseman since Orr to win the Hart Trophy, winning in 2000 with the St. Louis Blues.
Stan Jonathan scored the only hat trick of his playoff career on May 8, 1970. His huge performance led the Bruins to a 5-2 win over the Canadiens, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. Unfortunately, the Bruins dropped Game 7 to the Canadiens.
Speaking of hat tricks, David Krejci scored the second of his playoff career on May 8, 2013. His third goal comes in overtime as the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 4-3, in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Krejci joined Jean Ratelle as the only Bruins to complete their postseason hat tricks with an overtime goal.
A year later, it was Matt Fraser’s turn to be the overtime hero in his Stanley Cup playoff debut. He beat Carey Price, 1:19 into overtime, to give the Bruins a 1-0 win over the Canadiens, in Game 4 of their first-round series. He became just the sixth player in the past 75 years to have his first goal come in overtime. Fraser played in the final three games of this series and never make another postseason appearance. This was the only goal of this postseason career.
Odds & Ends
The Calgary Flames continued their charge to the Stanley Cup Final as Al MacInnis scored a power play goal, in overtime, to beat the Blackhawks 2-1, in Game 4 of the Campbell Final. MacInnis also had an assist on the Flames’ lone goal in regulation.
On May 8, 1994, Doug Gilmour scored a goal and added four assists to lead the Maple Leafs to an 8-3 win at the San Jose Sharks, in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Toronto also tied a playoff record with three shorthanded goals in the game.
Steve Yzerman’s hat trick wasn’t enough for the Red Wings on May 8, 1996. Igor Kravchuk scored the winning goal at 3:23 of overtime in the Blues’ 5-4 win over the visiting Red Wings, in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
A year later, Brendan Shanahan scored the winning goal at 17:03 of the second overtime as Detroit beat the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 3-2, in Game 4 of Western Conference Semifinal series. Goaltender Mikhail Shtalenkov made 71 saves for the Mighty Ducks, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Red Wings from completing a four-game sweep.
On May 8, 2000, Martin Brodeur had to do very little work to earn his eighth career playoff shutout. The New Jersey Devils held the Maple Leafs to a record-low six shots on goal in their 3-0 win, in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. He Brodeur only had to make three saves in the final 40 minutes of play as the Devils moved on to the conference final.
Cam Ward became the first-ever rookie goaltender to win all six of his first career playoff starts.
On May 8, 2006, Ward made 21 saves and Niclas Wallin scored in overtime as the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Devils 3-2, in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Ward’s magical first postseason run ends with a Conn Smythe Trophy and the Stanley Cup.
Happy Birthday to You
May 8 is the shared date of birth by 22 current and former NHL players. The most notable birthday boys are Peter McNab (68), Rick Zombo (57), Ray Whitney (48), Matt Martin (31), Lars Eller (31), Eric Gelinas (29), Kevin Hayes (28), Marcus Pettersson (24) and Vitaly Abramov (22).