Today in Hockey History: March 16

Today is about scoring goals and keeping them out of the net, as this date in National Hockey League history has provided multiple 50-goal scorers and some great goaltending. Plus, one of the all-time greats had multiple memories, and there were some big moments during the early years of the league. The THW time machine is fueled up and ready to take us through the years and relive the best that March 16 has given us.

Scoring No. 50

The 50-goal mark is a magical plateau in NHL history. A total of 91 different players have scored 50 goals in a season, a feat that has been accomplished 186 times.

Bernie Geoffrion became the second player to score 50 goals in a season on March 16, 1961. His tally capped off a four-goal third period as the Montreal Canadiens beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2. He was the first person to have a 50-goal season since fellow Canadiens legend Maurice Richard did during the 1944-45 season.

A decade later, Johnny Bucyk scored twice and added an assist to lead the Boston Bruins to an 11-4 victory over his former team, the Detroit Red Wings. The second goal made him the second 50-goal scorer in team history, joining Phil Esposito, who scored his 50th goal of the season on Feb. 20, 1971.

John Bucyk Boston Bruins
Bucyk scored 50 for the first time on this date in 1971.(Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Mike Bossy hit the 50-goal mark, on March 16, 1980, in a 6-1 New York Islanders’ win at the Chicago Blackhawks. This was his third of nine straight 50-goal seasons in his Hall of Fame career.

Related: Mike Bossy – 50 Goals in 50 NHL Games

One year later, Rick Kehoe became the third player in Pittsburgh Penguins history to score 50 goals in a season during a 7-6 loss at the Edmonton Oilers. He joined Pierre Larouche and Jean Pronovost, who had 53 and 52 goals, respectively, during the 1975-76 season.

Jean Beliveau’s Big Day

Beliveau set a record on March 16, 1961, that was overshadowed by Geoffrion’s 50th goal. His second assist of the game, on his teammate’s historic tally, gave him 58 on the season. This broke the NHL’s single-season assist record of 56 56 set by Bert Olmstead in the 1955-56 season.

Beliveau is the greatest Hab of them all. (THW Archives)

Five years later, on March 16, 1966, the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs combined to set an NHL record by scoring four goals in a 65-second span. Beliveau had both Montreal goals of this outburst as Dave Keon and Ralph Backstrom scored for Toronto. The Canadiens’ Hall of Famer also had three assists in a 7-2 victory.

Finally, on March 16, 1968, Beliveau scored his 15th career hat trick, while Yvan Cournoyer had a goal and three assists to lead the Canadiens to a 6-4 win against the Penguins.

Goaltenders Steal the Show

Charlie Conacher scored his 12th career hat trick on March 16, 1935, in the Maple Leafs win over the Canadiens. Yes, this memory is in the right section because Conacher played goal for three minutes during the game. George Hainsworth had to leave the game early in the third period for repairs to a cut above his left eye. Conacher grabbed a goalie stick and took over in the crease while wearing his regular equipment. He did not allow a goal during his time in the net.

Sticking with Toronto, on March 16, 1941, Turk Broda picked up his 26th career shutout in a 3-0 win over the Blackhawks. This was the first game in which we saw a practice common today at all levels of hockey. Chicago’s Paul Thompson was the first head coach to pull his goalie in favor of an extra attacker during an NHL game. He did it while his team was on a late power play to give the Blackhawks a 6-on-4 advantage, but they did score.

Bill Durnan became just the third goaltender in Canadiens history to win 100 games, on March 15, 1946, by beating the visiting Blackhawks 6-3.

Terry Sawchuk set a Red Wings’ team record with his 12th shutout of the season and the 24th of his career, on March 16, 1951, in a 4-0 win at Chicago. He broke Hap Holmes’ previous record set during the 1927-28 season.

“Mr. Goalie” Glenn Hall earned his 407th and final career victory, on March 16, 1971, by making 20 saves in the St, Louis Blues’ 6-2 win over the visiting Canadiens.

Three years later, Ed Giacomin became the first New York Rangers goaltender to win 250 games with a 3-1 victory at the New York Islanders. He was the 10th member of the NHL’s 250-wins club.

Al Jensen became the first goaltender in Washington Capitals history to have a 20-win season on March 16, 1983, when he beat the Hartford Whalers 5-4. Bengt Gustafsson was the offensive hero with three assists.

Back to the Big Apple where on March 16, 1998, Mike Richter became the fourth Rangers netminder to win 200 games by defeating the Ottawa Senators 5-4.

Speaking of the Senators, on March 16, 2001, Patrick Lalime became the first Ottawa goaltender to win 30 games in one season, thanks to a 4-1 victory against the visiting Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Chris Osgood became the third-youngest and fifth-fastest goaltender to win 300 games on March 16, 2004, in the Blues’ 5-3 road victory at the Los Angles Kings.

Sign up for our NHL History Substack newsletter

Substack The Hockey Writers Hockey History Banner

On March 16, 2017, Frederik Andersen stopped all 33 shots he faced in the Maple Leafs’ 5-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. This was the first shutout by any Toronto goaltender in Tampa Bay since 1999.

Last, but certainly not least, on March 16, 2021, Kaapo Kahkonen stopped all 31 shots he faced in the Minnesota Wild’s 3-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes. It was his ninth-straight victory, which tied him for the fifth-longest by a rookie in NHL history. At the time, only Ross Brooks, George Hainsworth, Rogie Vachon and Bill Durnan had longer streaks.

Black & White Memories

The 1923 Stanley Cup Playoffs started on this date with the NHL’s Senators taking on the Pacific Coast Hockey League’s Vancouver Maroons in the Semifinal. This game marked the first Stanley Cup game that featured brothers on opposite sides. Cy Denneny and George Boucher played for the Senators while Corb Denneny and Frank Boucher dressed for the Maroons. It was Punch Broadbent who had the lone goal in Ottawa’s 1-0 win.

Billy Taylor Sr. set an NHL record on March 16, 1947, when he had seven assists in the Red Wings 10-6 win at the Blackhawks. Wayne Gretzky is the only player to have a seven-assist game and he did it three times with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s.

On March 16, 1949, Gordie Howe had three assists during the Red Wings’ 6-2 beating of the Rangers to give 100 points in his career. The win clinched the 1948-49 regular-season champions for Detroit, their first six seasons.

Richard was suspended for the remainder of the season, on March 16, 1955, for his actions three days earlier that included punching linesman Cliff Thompson. This issue was far from resolved for the Canadiens legend and NHL President Clarence Campbell, as we will learn soon enough.

Odds & Ends

The Bruins tied an NHL record, on March 16, 1969, with eight goals during the second period of their 11-3 over the Maple Leafs. Derek Sanderson scored his second career hat trick during the explosive period and added three assists to finish six points. Rookie Garnet Bailey picked up his first two NHL goals in the onslaught and assisted on three others. The most remarkable state of the night is that legendary defenseman Bobby Orr did not factor in any of the Boston scoring.

Blackhawks’ defenseman Keith Magnuson set a new NHL single-season record for penalty minutes on March 16, 1971, when he had four minutes in a 7-4 win at the Vancouver Canucks. The two minors gave 274 PIM on the season, breaking Howie Young’s old record set in 1961-62.

A decade later, Mark Messier scored the first hat trick of his NHL career as the Oilers won 7-6 over the visiting Penguins.

Mark Messier of the Edmonton Oilers
Messier scored his first career hat trick on this date. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Hall of Fame head coach Scotty Bowman reached a pair of milestones on this date. In 1983, he won his 100th game for the Buffalo Sabres with a 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames. He had previously won 100 games with both the Blues and Canadiens. In 2002, he set the record for the most losses in league history, picking up career loss No. 578 when his Red Wings were defeated 2-1 by the Bruins. Sergei Fedorov set up the lone goal to become the fourth player in team history to record 500 assists.

Ron Sutter scored the Philadelphia Flyers’ 5,000th all-time goal, on March 16, 1985, in a 6-1 win at the Maple Leafs. The Flyers became the first team from the 1967 expansion to score 5,000 goals.

Mike Gartner scored twice, on March 16, 1989, in a 6-1 Minnesota North Stars’ win over Chicago, to become the 28th player to score 400 NHL goals.

On that same night, the Penguins clinched their first playoff berth since 1982 by beating the New Jersey Devils 2-1. Rob Brown had a goal and an assist for the only 100-point season of his career.

Dale Hawerchuk picked up his 600th career assist, on March 16, 1991, as the Sabres lost 6-4 at the Canadiens.

Defenseman Al MacInnis scored his first career hat trick, on March 16, 1992, in the Flames’ 4-3 loss to the Hartford Whalers. Two years later, he became the first player in Calgary team history to record 600 career assists. He became the ninth defenseman in NHL history to reach this milestone in a 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers.

Brian Bradley made NHL history, on March 16, 1993, by scoring in the Lightning’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Whalers. The goal was his 39th of the season, breaking Gilbert Perreault’s record set in 1970-71 for goals player on an expansion team.

The Canadiens played their first game at the brand-new Molson Centre on March 16, 1996, and beat the Rangers 4-2. Vincent Damphousse scored twice, including the first goal in the new arena. Mark Recchi scored the game-winning goal early in the third period.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 718th career goal on this date in 2021 to pass the great Phil Esposito for sixth in NHL history. He potted it against the Islanders using his vintage power-play one-timer, a game his Capitals eventually won 3-1. He also became the 35th player all-time to record 1,300 points.

Mats Zuccarello scored the 4,000th goal in Wild history on March 16, 2021, when he recorded his team’s second goal in the third period of what eventually became a 3-0 blanking of the Coyotes.

William Eklund scored on a penalty shot on March 16, 2023, to become the second-youngest player in Sharks history to do so. Only Jeff Friesen was younger when he did it at 19 years old on Dec. 2, 1995.

Happy Birthday to You

A total of 26 players who skated at least one game in the NHL were born on this date. The most recognizable names of the group are Al MacAdam (72), Duane Sutter (64), Brian Mullen (62), Greg Johnson (53), Jamie Rivers (49), Kim Johnsson (48), Tyler Arnason (45), Brandon Prust (40) and Jiri Tlusty (36).

*Originally constructed by Greg Boysen