Today in Hockey History: March 17

The greatest of them all had another huge day on this date in National Hockey League history. Plus, two of the most storied cities in the game made memories, and it was a banner day for goaltenders as well. Our daily trip back in time to relive all the best March 17 has given us is about to begin, so hop on board.

More Records for Wayne Gretzky

Gretzky’s first of three big moments on this date came in 1982. On this night, he scored his 10th hat trick of the season and added two assists in the Edmonton Oilers’ 10-4 blowout of the Pittsburgh Penguins. His two helpers give him 111, breaking his own single-season assist record. He finished the 1981-82 season with 92 goals, 120 assists and 212 points, all of which are still NHL records to this day.

Wayne Gretzky
Gretzky’s 1981-82 season will never be duplicated. (Photo by B Bennett/Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Three years later, he picked up an assist in the Oilers’ 5-4 loss at the Los Angeles to give him 1,100 career points.

On March 17, 1990, now a member of the Kings, Gretzky scored a goal and set up two more in a 5-4 win at the Boston Bruins. The goal was No. 40, setting an NHL for 11 straights seasons with at least 40 goals. He also hit 100 assists to set another record with 10 consecutive seasons with at least 100 assists.

Big Memories for the Boston Bruins

A busy date in Boston started in 1936 when goaltender Tiny Thompson recorded his 10th shutout of the season and the 61st of his career with a 1-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens. With the shutout, he extended his overall scoreless streak to 196:25.

The Bruins scored five third-period goals on March 17, 1940, to beat the visiting Canadiens in the regular-season finale. Milt Schmidt, Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer finished first, second and third in scoring, marking the first time all three members of the same line lead the league in points. The trio was named the Kraut Line because they are all from Kitchener, Ontario, which has a large German population.

The famed Bruins “Kraut Line,” with Bauer, Schmidt and Dumart. (THW Archives)

Boston beat the Canadiens again on March 17, 1968, scoring three times in the final 2:31 of the game for a 3-1 victory. The win clinched a Stanley Cup Playoff berth for the first time in nine seasons and started a streak of 29 straight postseason appearances. Fred Stanfield, Derek Sanderson and Phil Esposito scored in the late offensive explosion.

Gerry Cheevers became the third goaltender in Bruins team history to win 200 games on March 17, 1979, by beating the visiting Chicago Blackhawks 4-2.

On March 17, 1999, Pat Burns coached his 750th NHL game as and the Bruins scored three goals in the final 6:31 of play for a 4-1 road win at the Toronto Maple Leafs. Dmitri Khristich scored a goal and added an assist for his 500th NHL point.

Legendary Date for the Toronto Maple Leafs

A crowd of 11,000 turned out in Toronto for “King Clancy Night” on St. Patrick’s Day in 1934. In one of the wildest pregame ceremonies ever seen, Clancy was pulled onto the ice sitting on a throne dressed as St. Patrick. During the first period of the game, he wore a green jersey with a shamrock on the back. He changed back into his regular uniform during the first intermission to match the rest of his teammates. The Maple Leafs went on to beat the New York Rangers 3-2.

Harry Lumley became the fourth NHL goaltender to record 250 career victories on March 17, 1954, as the Maple Leafs won 3-1 over the visiting Canadiens.

Glenn Anderson scored his third goal of the game in overtime on March 17, 1992, to beat the visiting Quebec Nordiques 4-3. This was his 21st career hat trick and first as a member of the Maple Leafs.

On March 17, 1996, Mike Gartner scored twice in the Maple Leafs 4-2 victory against the Vancouver Canucks. The two tallies gave him the 16th 30-goal season of his career, extending his own NHL record.

Mats Sundin added an empty-net goal to his two assists on March 17, 2001, to lead the Maple Leafs to a 5-3 road win at the Florida Panthers. The three points give him 857 in his career to pass Tomas Sandstrom as the NHL’s all-time leading scorer among Swedish-born players. The victory was goaltender Curtis Joseph’s 100th with the team.

Netminders Steal the Show

Glenn Hall became the first goaltender in Blackhawks’ history to win 30 games in one season on March 17, 1962, by beating the Maple Leafs 3-1 in Toronto.

Billy Smith accomplished this same feat for the New York Islanders on March 17, 1982, when he picked up win No. 30 on the season in a 5-2 road victory at the Colorado Rockies.

Billy Smith
Smith dominated in the early 80s. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Sergei Mylnikov became the first goaltender born in the Soviet Union to win an NHL game on March 17, 1990, when he and the Nordiques defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 6-3. This was the eighth career start as he went 0-5-2 before finding the win column.

Martin Brodeur set the gold standard for all netminders on March 17, 2009, when he led the New Jersey Devils to a 3-2 win over the Blackhawks. The victory was the 552nd of the career, moving him past Patrick Roy as the all-time winningest goaltender in NHL history.

On March 17, 2015, Andrew Hammond led the Ottawa Senators to a 2-1 overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes. This improved his record to 11-0-1 since making his debut a month earlier. He also became just the second goaltender in league history to allow two or fewer goals in each of his first 12 starts. Frank Brimsek was the first to do so with the Bruins during the 1938-39 season.

Odds & Ends

The Canadiens beat the Montreal Maroons 6-3 on March 17, 1938, in the final game between the Forum’s two tenants. Financial difficulties forced the Maroons the suspend operations after the season. The original plan was the return for the 1939-40 season, but that never came to fruition.

Flash Hollett became the first NHL defenseman to score 20 goals in a season on March 17, 1945, when he lit the lamp in the Detroit Red Wings’ 4-3 against the Maple Leafs.

The Maurice Richard saga of 1955 continued on this date when NHL President Clarence Campbell attended the Canadiens first game after suspended the star player for the remainder of the season. Fans were still outraged over the decision and they were not afraid to show their anger towards Campbell. The Habs eventually had to forfeit their game versus the Red Wings after a smoke bomb is set off inside the Forum. The angry mob spilled out into the streets and erupted into a full-fledged riot. The ensuing violence caused a reported $100,000 in property damage, 37 injuries, and 100 arrests.

Maurice Richard of the Montreal Canadiens
Canadiens fans rioted over Richard’s suspension. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Rookie Bernie Nicholls scored his first career NHL hat trick, on March 17, 1982, in the Kings’ 9-4 win over the Calgary Flames. He wasted little time getting another one as he scored three goals in three nights player against the Penguins. He scored 18 regular-season hat tricks during his career and one in the playoffs.

Michel Goulet scored four goals and added two assists, on March 17, 1986, in the Nordiques 8-6 road win in Montreal. This gave him four straight 50-goal seasons.

On that same night, Dino Ciccarelli completed his 10th career hat trick in overtime to give him 200 NHL goals. He also had an assist as the Minnesota North Stars beat the visiting St. Louis 6-5.

Jari Kurri scored twice on March 17, 1987, to give him 50 goals on the season and 350 in his career. He also had an assist in the Oilers’ 7-4 win versus the Devils, extending their home undefeated streak against New Jersey to nine games (8-0-1).

That same evening in Philadelphia, Tim Kerr became the seventh player in NHL history to score at least 50 in four consecutive seasons, as the Flyers beat the Rangers 4-1.

On March 17, 1988, Brian Sutter became the second player in Blues history, joining Bernie Federko to score 300 goals with the team in a 2-2 tie with the North Stars.

Two years later, Federko had two of his franchise records broken on the same night. Adam Oates broke his single-season assist record by picking up his 74th in 4-3 Blues loss to the Red Wings. Brett Hull picked up his 108th point of the season, setting a new team-high. Both of Federko’s previous records were set during the 1983-84 season.

St. Louis’ Adam Oates set a new team record with his 74th assist & Brett Hull set a team mark with his 108th point when the Blues lost 4-3 to Detroit. Bernie Federko had held both records, with 73 assists in 1980-81 and 107 points in 1983-84.

Joe Mullen became the first U.S.-born player to score 400 NHL goals, on March 17, 1992, with a goal and two assists in the Penguins’ 6-5 win versus the Oilers. He was the 39th player overall to join the 400-goal club.

Steve Yzerman scored his 557th career goal on March 17, 1998, moving him ahead of Johnny Bucyk for 13th place on the NHL’s all-time goals list. Goaltender Norm Maracle earned his first career win in his league debut as the Red Wings knocked off the Oilers 4-3.

Steve Yzerman Detroit Red Wings
Yzerman moved up the all-time goals list on this date. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

Phil Housley scored his 300th career NHL goal, on March 17, 1999, in the Flames’ 3-1 loss at the Blackhawks. He became the fourth defenseman in NHL history to score 300 goals, joining Paul Coffey, Ray Bourque and Denis Potvin.

Peter Bondra set a new Capitals record with his 21st power-play goal of the season, on March 17, 2001, in a 3-2 loss to the visiting Buffalo Sabres. He broke the old record of 20 set by Dennis Maruk during the 1981-82 season.

Happy Birthday to You

A big group of 29 current and former NHL players are sharing a birthday today. The most notable of this bunch are Craig Ramsay (70), Stan Weir (69), Andrew Ference (42), Bobby Ryan (34), Ryan White (33), Mikael Backlund (32), Christian Wolanin (27), Danie Sprong (24), Andrew Peeke (23) and the late Tony Leswick.


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