March 2 has been loaded with huge names having big nights throughout National Hockey League history. If you are a fan of the 1990s, then today’s journey back in time is just for you. Today’s trip down memory lane is chock-full of legendary members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Let’s begin our look back!
An Unforgettable Night in 1993
Mario Lemieux was one of two Hall of Famers to give fans a night they will never forget on March 2, 1993. He made a surprise return to the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup after undergoing his 22nd and final radiation treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma that morning. This is such a special moment; even the rival fans of the Philadelphia Flyers give him a huge ovation at the Spectrum. In his first game since Jan. 5, 1993, he scored his 40th goal of the season and added an assist, but the Flyers spoiled his comeback with a 5-4 win.
Teemu Selanne’s magical rookie season continued on this night. Two nights earlier, he became just the third rookie ever to score 50 goals. He scored his 52nd goal just 15 seconds into the Winnipeg Jets game against the Quebec Nordiques. He tied Mike Bossy’s rookie record, set during 1977-78, with goal No. 53 late in the second period. Midway through the third period, he beat goaltender Stephane Fiest for his 54th goal of the season, becoming the highest-scoring rookie in league history. Unfortunately for the Jets, the Nordiques score four times after Selanne’s historic tally to win 7-4.
Even More History in 1995
Three more Hockey Hall of Famers had big nights on this date in 1995. Joe Mullen dressed his 300th game for the Penguins and scored a goal in their 6-3 loss at the Buffalo Sabres. He became the second player in NHL history to play at least 300 games for three different teams. He previously played in 301 for the St. Louis Blues and 345 with Calgary Flames. Bill Gadsby was the other player to accomplish this feat by playing 300 games with the Chicago Blackhawks, New Rangers and Detroit Red Wings between 1946 and 1966.
Mullen’s former teammate, Joe Nieuwendyk, scored his 300th NHL goal during the Flames’ 2-2 tie with the Vancouver Canucks. He was the first player in franchise history to join the 300-club and has since been joined by Theo Fleury and Jarome Iginla, who was acquired in the trade that sent Nieuwendyk to the Dallas Stars.
To cap off this busy night, Paul Coffey picked up three assists to give him 1,300 career points as the Red Wings beat the Jets 6-1. He became the first defenseman and 12th player overall to reach the 1,300-point plateau.
Boston Bruins Legends Make Their Mark
Some of the biggest names in Bruins history had big moments on this date. Starting on March 2, 1941, when Roy Conacher scored a hat trick and added an assist as the Bruins extended their team-record road undefeated streak to 13 games (8-0-5) with a 4-3 win at the Blackhawks.
Exactly 20 years later, on March 2, 1961, Johnny Bucyk scored his third career hat trick, in a span of 5:26, during a 4-2 win over the visiting Red Wings.
Phil Esposito made history on March 2, 1969, when he became the first NHL player to score 100 points in a season. He hit triple digits with a pair of third-period goals in a 4-0 win over the Penguins.
One year later, Wayne Cashman scored two goals and added an assist to make the Bruins the first team in league history to have nine players score at least 20 goals. Goaltender Eddie Johnston earned his 20th career shutout in a 6-0 win at the Minnesota North Stars. The third goal of the game gave them 304 on the season, setting a new NHL record.
Three years to the day of Esposito’s first 100-point season, defenseman Bobby Orr became the third player to have three 100-point seasons. He scored a goal and added an assist in a 7-3 win over the Canucks. Esposito scored a hat trick in the victory.
Finally, on March 2, 1974, Ken Hodge scored twice to give him 250 career goals in a 5-5 tie with the Red Wings. He scored 289 goals for the Bruins before being traded to the Rangers in 1976, which are the eighth-most in franchise history.
St. Louis Blues Make Memories
Bernie Federko became the third player in Blues’ history to score 250 goals, on March 2, 1986, in a 4-4 tie with the visiting Blackhawks. He scored a total of 352 goals in St. Louis, good for second place on the team’s all-time list.
Brett Hull, the player who passed Federko on the goals list, provided the offense, on March 2, 1991, with a goal and three assists in a 4-4 tie at Philadelphia. The goal gave him 70 for the second straight season. He finished with a career-high 86, the third-highest single-season total in NHL history.
Kelly Chase was never known for his offense, but on March 2, 1999, he scored twice in 33 seconds of the first period during the Blues’ 5-1 win at the Nashville Predators. This was his 426th NHL game and his first with multiple goals. Scott Young scored his 200th career goal as St. Louis won their team-record sixth straight road game.
One year later, the Blues became just the second team in league history to win 10 road games in a row as they earned a 5-2 win at the Atlanta Thrashers. The late Pavol Demitra scored his 100th career goal as the Blues tied the record set by the 1983-84 Sabres.
Hall of Fame Milestones
The final night of the NHL’s inaugural season, on March 2, 1918, saw something that rarely happened; Joe Malone of the Montreal Canadiens did not score a goal. The Toronto Arenas kept him off the scoresheet in a 5-3 win. He finished the season with 44 goals in 22 games. This remained the record for the most goals in one season until Maurice Richard scored 50 goals in 50 games in 1944-45.
Speaking of Canadiens’ greats, George Hainsworth became the first NHL goaltender to record 20 shutouts in one season, on March 2, 1929, when the Canadiens beat the visiting Bruins 3-0.
Bobby Hull became the first player to have two 50-goal seasons on March 2, 1966, when he notched the game-winner in the Blackhawks’ 5-4 victory over the Red Wings.
On that same night, Jean Beliveau scored the 380th goal of his career during Montreal’s 3-3 tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs. This put him ahead of Ted Lindsay for third place on the NHL’s all-time goals list. Only Richard and Gordie Howe remained ahead of him.
Rob Gilbert picked up five assists, on March 2, 1975, including on each of Greg Polis’ three goals. However, the Penguins came back to win 8-6, with former Rangers captain Vic Hadfield scoring the game-winning tally in the third period.
A year later, Bryan Trottier picked up an assist in the New York Islanders’ 2-1 win over the California Golden Seals. The helper tied the rookie record for assists (52) and points (77), held by Jude Drouin and Marcel Dionne, respectively. Drouin, ironically, scored the game-winning goal on this night.
On March 2, 1977, Dionne set another record with three assists during the Los Angeles Kings’ 5-0 road win at the Penguins. This gave him 56 assists, the most ever by a Kings player in a single season. Goaltender Rogie Vachon earned his 40th career shutout.
Mark Messier became the fourth player in NHL history to score 1,700 career points, on March 2, 2000, with a goal during the Canucks 3-1 win over the visiting Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
Finally, on March 2, 2001, Martin Brodeur became the third NHL goaltender to put together six straight seasons with at least 30 wins. His 30th win of 2000-01 comes in the New Jersey Devils’ 7-3 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Odds & Ends
Rookie Dave Christian scored the first goal of his NHL career just seven seconds into his first shift, on March 2, 1980, in a 3-2 Jets’ loss to the visiting Blackhawks. This moment came exactly one week after Christian helped the United States win a gold medal at the 1980 Olympics. He went on to score 340 goals and 773 points in 1,009 career NHL games.
Mike Liut became the 18th NHL goaltender to win 250 career games on March 2, 1989, as he led the Hartford Whalers to a 2-1 victory over the Canucks. Ulf Samuelsson led the scoring with a goal and an assist.
On that same evening, Steve Duchesne scored his first career hat trick in the Kings’ 6-4 loss to the Blues. This gave him 23 goals, breaking the franchise’s single-season record for goals by a defenseman set by Larry Murphy in 1981-82.
Defenseman Eric Desjardins scored a goal to give him 500 career points, on March 2, 2002, during the Flyers’ 6-5 loss at the Rangers.
Free-agent defenseman Chris Chelios signed with the Thrashers on this date in 2010. The 48-year-old blueliner appeared in seven games for Atlanta, the final ones of his Hall of Fame career. Before this, he played in 46 games for his hometown Chicago Wolves, the Thrashers’ American Hockey League affiliate.
Henrik Lundqvist was born in Are, Sweden, on this date in 1982. He celebrated his 35th birthday in style, on March 2, 2017, by tying Grant Fuhr for 10th place on the NHL’s all-time wins list. He made 21 saves to lead the Rangers to a 2-1 win at Boston. One year later, he stopped 50 shots to beat the Flames 3-1. This made him the third goaltender ever to make at least 50 saves in back-to-back starts and the first to win both games. He had a 50-save performance during a 6-5 overtime win at the Canucks, two days earlier.
On March 2, 2019, the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Ottawa Senators 5-1 for their 50th victory of the season in just their 66th game. This tied the 1995-96 Red Wings for the fewest games needed to win 50. When Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak all found the back of the net, it marked the first game in franchise history in which four defensemen scored a goal.
Happy Birthday to You
In addition to Lundqvist, there are 27 more current and former NHL players born on this date. Other birthday boys include Claude Larose (80), Darren Turcotte (54), Roman Cechmanek (51), Tomas Kaberle (44), Joel Lundqvist (40), Jonathan Ericsson (38), Michael Hutchinson (32), Jacob Josefson (31), Charlie Coyle (30), Max Domi (27), Alexander Nylander (24), Ville Heinola (21) and the late Hall of Famer Bill Quackenbush.
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.