Today in Hockey History: March 11

The rivalry between Boston and Montreal is one of the best in National Hockey League history, and both franchises had numerous memories on this date. The pioneers of the sport started to pave the way for today’s stars, and this was a big date for setting new records as well. It is time for our daily trip through the decades to relive the best moments March 11 has had to offer.

A Huge Date for the Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins’ historic run on March 11 began in 1930 when they extended their NHL-record home winning streak to 20 games. Cooney Weiland scored three goals and set up the fourth in a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Milt Schmidt scored his first two career goals on March 11, 1937, to lead the Bruins to a 6-2 win at the Blackhawks. He went on to score 229 goals during his 16-season career in Boston.

March 11, 1971, was a heck of a night for the Bruins as they beat the Kings 7-2 in Los Angeles. Phil Esposito entered the game with 58 goals, tied with Bobby Hull for the most in a single season. He broke the record in the first period and then became the first player to score 60 goals later in the second period. He finished the 1970-71 season with 76 goals.

Phil Esposito Boston Bruins
Esposito and the Bruins had a huge night in 1971. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

This wasn’t the only one of Hull’s records to be broken in this game. Johnny Bucyk scored two goals to give him 99 points, the new single-season record for left wings. The records kept falling as Bobby Orr broke two of his with a goal and three assists to give him 121 points on the season, the most-ever by a defenseman. His third assist was his 88th, also a new single-season record for blueliners. Finally, if that wasn’t enough, the Bruins became the first team to win 50 games in a season.

Ken Hodge scored his fifth career hat trick for the 300th goal of his career, on March 11, 1976, in a 6-2 win over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs. He also picked up an assist to finish the night with four points. Jean Ratelle scored two goals and added two assists, while Bucyk had a goal and three helpers.

On March 11, 1982, Rick Middleton scored his fifth career hat trick, and rookie Barry Pederson picked up three assists in a 7-4 Bruins’ win over the Winnipeg Jets.

Last but not least, on March 11, 2023, the Bruins became the fastest team in NHL history to reach 50 wins in a season with a 3-2 victory against the Red Wings. They did it in 64 games, beating the 1995-96 Red Wings and 2018-19 Lightning who both did it in 66 games.

History for the Montreal Canadiens

On March 11, 1924, the Canadiens won a two-game two-total goals series 5-2 over the Ottawa Senators, to claim the NHL championship. They advanced to the Stanley Cup Final where they defeated the Calgary Tigers of the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL) for their second Cup win.

Elmer Lach had a goal and three assists, on March 11, 1945, in an 11-5 win at the New York Rangers. The performance gave him 51 assists

Five years later, rookie goaltender Gerry McNeil, replacing the injured Bill Durnan, recorded his first NHL shutout to lead the Canadiens to a 5-0 win against the Bruins. Lach scored a goal and had two assists to lead the offense.

Henri Richard scored the third hat trick of his career, on March 11, 1961, as Montreal beat Boston again, this time 7-5.

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Goaltender Gump Worsley recorded his 40th career shutout, on March 11, 1969, in the Habs’ 3-0 road win at the St. Louis Blues.

The Canadiens played their final game at the Montreal Forum on March 11, 1996, and beat the Dallas Stars 4-1. Andrei Kovalenko scored the final goal in the building that hosted 72 years’ worth of hockey history.

After the game, all the living former Habs captains, including Guy Carbonneau, who was in uniform for the Stars that night, took to the ice for a special passing of the torch ceremony. Maurice Richard took part in this ceremony and received a standing ovation from the Montreal faithful that lasted close to 10 minutes. Jean Beliveau, Yvan Cournoyer, Henri Richard, Serge Savard, Bob Gainey, Carbonneau and current captain Pierre Turgeon were also involved in the special moment.

A Record-Setting Night

Terry Sawchuk picked up his 39th win on March 11, 1951, to set a new NHL record for most victories in a season. The rookie netminder also earned his 10th shutout in the Detroit Red Wings’ 7-0 win at the Blackhawks. George Gee was the offensive hero with three goals and two assists.

The Philadelphia Flyers hosted the Kings on March 11, 1979, and the game got off to a wild start. Randy Holt of the Kings picked up nine penalties for 67 total minutes, both a new NHL record. Frank Bathe set a new Flyers record with 55 penalty minutes. All of these came in the first period of the Flyers’ 6-3 win.

Larry Murphy set a new NHL record for most points by a rookie defenseman on March 11, 1981, when he picked up his 66th point in the Kings’ 4-4 tie with the Blackhawks. He broke the record set by Ray Bourque the previous season.  

Mike Bossy scored four times on March 11, 1986, to give him 50 goals for an NHL-record ninth straight season. He also had an assist in the New York Islanders’ 8-4 victory over the visiting Calgary Flames.

The Carolina Hurricanes set a new league record, on March 11, 2002, by having their sixth straight home game in a tie when their game with the Flames ended in a 3-3 deadlock.

Then-head coach Barry Trotz recorded his 900th win behind the bench when his Islanders beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-2. He is now set to become the next general manager of the Nashville Predators, a franchise he coached from 1998-2014.

More Old School Memories

The Ottawa Silver Seven beat Rat Portage 5-4, on March 11, 1905, in the final game of their Stanley Cup Challenge. It was the sixth of eight straight Stanley Cup challenges won by Ottawa. The town of Rat Portage, in Ontario, is now known as Kenora.

On March 11, 1912, the first Stanley Cup playoff game with six players on a side was played. All prior games featured seven-man teams, including a “rover.” Jack McDonald scored four goals to lead the Quebec Bulldogs to a 9-3 win over the Moncton Victorias.

The Toronto Hockey Club, known as the “Blueshirts” later Maple Leafs, captured their first Stanley Cup on March 11, 1914, with a 6-0 home-ice shutout against the Canadiens. The was Montreal’s first-ever appearance in a Stanley Cup championship series.  

Four years later, Toronto, now known as the Arenas, played the first Stanley Cup playoff game between two NHL teams when they hosted the Canadiens in the first game of a two-game, total goal series. Harry Meeking scored a hat trick as Toronto, once again, got the best of Montreal in a 7-3 decision.

The Montreal Maroons scored an NHL-record four goals in overtime, on March 11, 1934, to beat the Rangers 7-3. Russ Blinco scored two of the four goals as teams played a full 10-minute overtime period instead of the sudden death format we are used to today.

A Trio of Milestones for Denis Savard

“Savoir-Faire” hit three different personal milestones on the date, all as a member of the Blackhawks. On March 11, 1987, Savard became the sixth player in Blackhawks’ franchise history to score 250 goals during a 3-2 loss to the visiting Blues.

Denis Savard Chicago Blackhawks
Savard loved playing on March 11. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

Three years later, Savard became the 26th player in NHL history to score 1,000 career points, with an assist in another loss to St. Louis, this time 6-4.

Related: The Chris Chelios for Denis Savard Trade Revisited

Lastly, on March 11, 1996, Savard scored two goals and an assist to become the 15th player to accumulate 1,300 NHL points, as the Blackhawks won 8-4 over the visiting Florida Panthers.

Odds & Ends

Rookie goalie Billy Smith recorded his first NHL victory on March 11, 1972, as the Kings beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-3. The was his only win with the Kings. Of course, the future Hall of Famer caught on with the Islanders and was in goal for four straight Stanley Cup wins between 1980 and 1983.

Reggie Leach of the Flyers scored his 300th NHL goal on March 11, 1980, in a 4-3 win at the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Marcel Dionne became the first player to score 1,000 points in a Kings uniform on March 11, 1984, as Los Angeles snapped a team-record 10-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over the Blackhawks.

On that same night, Wayne Gretzky scored twice to give him 350 career NHL goals and picked up three assists as the Oilers beat up the visiting Vancouver Canucks 12-2. Mark Messier and Jari Kurri both had hat tricks on the night, with Kurri adding two assists.

Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
Gretzky racked up the points on this date. (Photo by B Bennett/Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Gretzky had another big night three years later when he scored a goal and had three assists in the third period of a 6-3 win over the Red Wings. This gave the Great One 1,500 career points in just 620 games.

Patrick Roy became the league’s all-time wins leader among active goaltenders on March 11, 1998, when he passed Grant Fuhr with 376 victories by beating Fuhr and the Blues 3-2.

Bob Probert became the sixth NHL player to get over 3,000 career penalty minutes on March 11, 2000, and he also added a goal in the Blackhawks’ win 5-3 at the Panthers. Alexei Zhamnov picked up his 300th NHL assist in the victory.

On March 11, 2001, Bourque became just the third player to play in 1,600 NHL games as the Avalanche beat the 3-2 in Denver.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 715th goal and moved within two of Phil Esposito for sixth in NHL history in the Capitals’ 5-3 victory over the Flyers on March 11, 2021. He also had seven shots for a total of 5,635 which placed him two behind Jaromir Jagr for second all-time (Ray Bourque is first with 6,209). He has, of course, since passed him and now sits at 6,562 as of March 11, 2024.

Alex Ovechkin Washington Capitals
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

On that same night, John Carlson scored a goal to hit 500 points in his NHL career. Since being drafted 27th overall by the Capitals in 2008, the 33-year-old has scored 146 goals and 660 points in 989 games (as of March 11, 2024).

Brad Marchand tied Orr and Ed Westfall for the most shorthanded points in Bruins’ history when he scored the 47th shorthanded goal of his career on March 11, 2021, against the Rangers. His assist on Patrice Bergeron‘s goal also moved him ahead of Ken Hodge (674) for ninth on the team’s points list.

Mike Sullivan became the 50th NHL coach to hit 300 wins behind the bench when the Penguins defeated the Sabres 5-2 on March 11, 2021. He is now in his eighth season with the Penguins where he won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.

On March 11, 2023, Cale Makar scored his fifth overtime goal to pass Tyson Barrie for the most in Avalanche/Nordiques history.

Happy Birthday to You

A total of 31 current and former players were born on March 11. The most notable of the bunch are Ken Baumgartner (58), Bill Houlder (57), Martin Rucinsky (53), Tyson Nash (49), Michal Handzus (47), Conor Garland (28), Travis Konecny (27) and the late Hall of Famer Sprague Cleghorn.

*Originally constructed by Greg Boysen