March 15 has been a good date in National Hockey League history for defensemen and an even better one for goaltenders. Numerous members of the Hockey Hall of Fame made memories on this date along the way. It’s time for our daily trip back through the years to relive the best moments from this date.
A Big Day for Defensemen
Bobby Orr picked up an assist on March 15, 1969, in the Boston Bruins’ 7-4 loss at the Toronto Maple Leafs. This gave him 60 points on the season, breaking Pierre Pilote’s single-season record for points by a defenseman. The Chicago Blackhawks Hall of Fame blueliner set his record during the 1964-65 season.
That record was shattered as Orr rewrote the record book a year later. On March 15, 1970, he scored two goals and added two assists during a 5-5 tie with the Detroit Red Wings to become the first defenseman to score 100 points in a season. He joined his teammate Phil Esposito, Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe as the only players to have 100-point seasons in league history. He was also the first to have 100 points and 100 penalty minutes in the same season. He finished his historic 1969-70 season with 120 points, becoming the first defenseman to win the scoring title, something he did twice and no other blueliner ever has.
Brian Leetch found the back of the net, on March 15, 1989, in the New York Rangers 6-3 loss to the visiting Winnipeg Jets. This gave him 22 goals on the season, tying Barry Beck’s NHL record for the most by a rookie defenseman. Before the game, the Rangers retired goaltender Ed Giacomin’s No. 1 as he joined Rod Gilbert as the only two players to have their numbers hanging in the Madison Square Garden rafters.
On March 14, 1999, Rob Blake became the first defenseman in Los Angeles Kings’ history to score 100 career goals in a 4-0 win over the visiting Ottawa Senators. Goaltender Stephane Fiset recorded the 14th shutout of his career.
Three years later, Teppo Numminen accomplished this same feat as he became the first defenseman in Phoenix Coyotes franchise history to score 100 career goals. The milestone came in a 3-2 win at Nashville Predators, despite being outshot 42-18.
Making Memories Between the Pipes
Legendary Montreal Canadiens head coach Dick Irvin still had no idea who he wanted to use as his No. 1 goaltender for the Stanley Cup Playoffs on March 15, 1941. So, he rotated Bert Gardiner and Paul Bibeault, switching them out about every seven minutes in a 6-0 win over the New York Americans. This was the first shared shutout in NHL history. Gardiner ended up winning the starting job for the postseason, but the Canadiens lost their best-of-three Quarterfinal series versus the Blackhawks.
Goaltender Frank Brimsek recorded his 40th and final career shutout on March 15, 1950, in the Blackhawks’ 4-0 win over the Maple Leafs. His 40 shutouts remained as the NHL record for U.S.-born goaltenders until Jonathan Quick broke it in 2016.
Terry Sawchuk became the first NHL goaltender to have a 40-win season on March 15, 1951, when he led the Red Wings to a 4-0 over the Bruins. This was the 10th shutout of his rookie season and 11th of his career. Howe was the offensive hero with two goals. This was Detroit’s 39th win of the season, breaking the league record of 38 that three teams shared.
Eight years later, Sawchuk became the first goaltender in Red Wings history to win 250 games, with a 4-1 win at Chicago.
Tony Esposito became the second goaltender in league history to record six straight 30-win seasons on March 15, 1975, when the Blackhawks picked up a 5-2 road win at the Minnesota North Stars.
Patrick Roy tied a Canadiens team record by extending his unbeaten streak at home to 25 games (23-0-2) on March 15, 1989, with a 5-2 win over the Kings. He tied Bill Durnan, who went 22-0-3 at the Montreal Forum during the 1943-44 season.
Chris Osgood became the first goaltender in St. Louis Blues history to get a shutout in his team debut on March 15, 2003, with a 1-0 win at the Predators. He became the fifth Blues netminder to record a shutout during the 2002-03 season, setting a new NHL record.
Carey Price became the 29th goalie in NHL history to play at least 700 games when the Canadiens defeated the Jets 4-2 on March 15, 2021. He made 34 saves in the win.
Hall of Fame Milestones
Lynn Patrick scored a pair of goals on March 15, 1942, as the Rangers clinch their first-ever regular-season championship with a 5-1 victory at the Blackhawks. They finished the season with a 29-17-2 record and a league-leading 60 points. The Blueshirts wouldn’t have the best regular-season record again until 1991-92.
Ted Lindsay broke Maurice Richard’s league record for games played on March 15, 1959, by appearing in his 928th career contest, a Blackhawks’ 4-1 loss to the Red Wings. This match-up was appropriate for his record-breaking night as he played the first 793 games with Detroit.
George Armstrong scored his first career hat trick on this same night as the Maple Leafs won 6-5 at the Rangers. This was one of just two career hat tricks scored during his 21-season NHL career in Toronto.
Esposito scored four goals on March 15, 1979, to help the Rangers beat the Bruins, his former team, 7-4 in Boston. This was the 31st hat trick of his remarkable career.
Wayne Gretzky scored his 50th goal for the second straight season on March 15, 1981, during the Edmonton Oilers’ 3-3 tie with the Calgary Flames.
Mario Lemieux scored a power-play goal and assisted on another on March 15, 1986, in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2-2 tie with the visiting Rangers. This extended his team-record point streak to 28 games. He had 21 goals and 59 points during this run.
Mark Messier scored his 300th career goal to reach the 100-point mark on March 15, 1988, in the Oilers’ 6-4 against the Buffalo Sabres. Craig Simpson scored to become the first player to put up 50 goals while playing for two teams in the same season. He scored his first 13 goals playing for the Penguins before being traded to Edmonton.
Dale Hawerchuk collected his 1,100th career point on March 15, 1992, as the Sabres won 6-4 over the visiting Quebec Nordiques. Exactly four years later, he was traded by the Blues to the Flyers for Craig MacTavish. Hawerchuk played the final 67 games of his career with Philadelphia, scoring 16 goals and 54 points.
Dave Andreychuk became the 26th player in NHL history to score 500 career goals on March 15, 1997, during the New Jersey Devils’ 3-2 victory against the Washington Capitals. His 500th career goal was one of his league-record 274 power-play goals.
Brett Hull scored his 30th goal of the season for the 13th time in his career on March 15, 2003, as the Red Wings beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-3. This was the 709th career goal, putting him ahead of Mike Gartner for fifth place on the NHL’s all-time list.
Odds & Ends
On March 15, 1934, the Senators 3-2 lost on home ice to the Americans. This was the last NHL game played in Ottawa until the second incarnation of the Senators joined the league in 1992.
Bob MacMillan became the first 100-point scorer in Atlanta Flames history on March 15, 1979, when he picked up an assist in a 5-4 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. This was the only time he scored 100 points during his 11-season NHL career.
The number 200 was wild on March 15, 1992, during the Capitals 5-2 win over the New York Islanders. Mike Ridley scored his 200th career goal to help Don Beaupre become the 35th goaltender in NHL history to win 200 games.
Staying with the Capitals, on March 15, 1999, Dale Hunter became the first player in franchise history to accumulate 2,000 penalty minutes during a 1-1 draw with the Rangers.
Alexander Mogilny racked up three assists on March 15, 2004, to help the Maple Leafs beat the Sabres 6-5 in overtime. The helpers made him just the second Russian-born player to score 1,000 career NHL points. He joined Sergei Fedorov, who accomplished this feat just 29 days earlier.
Patrik Laine extended his 14-game point streak with an assist on March 15, 2018, in the Jets’ 6-2 win over the Blackhawks. This was the longest scoring streak by a teenager in NHL history as Winnipeg won their franchise-record 25th home game of the season, breaking the old mark set by the 2005-06 Atlanta Thrashers.
Alex Ovechkin hit yet another goal-scoring milestone on March 15, 2021, in the Capitals’ 6-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres. It was the 717th goal of his career, tieing the great Phil Esposito for sixth in NHL history.
On that same night, Ovechkin’s teammate and longtime center Nicklas Backstrom recorded his 400th NHL point in his 984th game, passing Calle Johansson for second in Washington history behind Ovechkin’s 1,176.
Patrick Kane recorded his 1,064th NHL point on March 15, 2021, in the Blackhawks’ 6-3 loss against the Panthers. The point moved him past Joe Mullen for fifth-place among United States-born players. Mike Modano holds the record with 1,374 points.
Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist in the Penguins’ 4-1 win over the Bruins on this day in 2021 to hit 1,100 points in the NHL. He became the 63rd player all-time to do it and fifth active. He was just the third Penguin to accomplish the feat, joining Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby in the exclusive club. His teammate, Crosby also became the 22nd player to record 200 multi-assist games and his head coach Mike Sullivan tied Eddie Johnston for the second-most wins in Penguins history with 232. All in all, a pretty big milestone night in Pittsburgh.
Happy Birthday to You
A talented group of 28 current and former NHL players share a birthday today. The most notable of the lot are Stew Gavin (62), Craig Ludwig (61), Darcy Tucker (47), David Steckel (40), Chris VandeVelde (35), James Reimer (34), Mark Scheifele (29), Brendan Lemieux (26), Rasmus Kupari (22) and the late Hall of Fame head coach and general manager, George “Punch” Imlach.
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.