May 29 has proven to be a very eventful date in the history of the National Hockey League. The greatest player to ever play shattering the dreams of one the Original Six franchises was just one of many Stanley Cup playoff moments to occur on this date.
The Great One Breaks Hearts in Toronto
The 1993 Campbell Conference Final between the Los Angeles Kings and Toronto Maple Leafs was one of the most memorable playoff series of the decade. The seven-game series had a little bit of everything. Game 1 saw a huge open-ice hit on Maple Leafs forward Doug Gilmour by Marty McSorely, which led to the two head coaches confronting each other on the benches.
The Maple Leafs had a 3-2 series heading into Game 6 in Los Angeles when referee Kerry Fraser became public enemy number one in Canada. He did not call a high-sticking penalty on Wayne Gretzky, who cut open Gilmour, which would have resulted in a five-minute major and a game misconduct. A few moments later, Gretzky scored the game-winning goal to force a seventh and final game back in Toronto on May 29, 1993.
Despite averaging a point per game in the series so far (two goals, four assists), Gretzky felt he wasn’t playing very good hockey coming into the final game. He erased those doubts by scoring three goals and adding an assist in the Kings’ 5-3 victory. He scored a goal in all three periods, including the game-winning tally late in the third period to send the Kings to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history. Gretzky considers this the greatest game he ever played.
Mile High Memories
The Colorado Avalanche played a pair of big games on this date. On May 29, 1996, the Avalanche advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history with a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings, in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. The loss was a bitter pill to swallow in Detroit as the Red Wings set an NHL record with 62 wins during the regular season.
Joe Sakic scored two goals, including the game-winner, and added an assist on Mike Ricchi’s power-play goal in the second period. Peter Forsberg finished off the scoring with an unassisted goal. Patrick Roy tied Billy Smith of the New York Islanders by playing in his 132nd career playoff game, the most in history at the time.
Five years later, on May 29, 2001, Roy became the first goaltender in NHL history to start in 100 games in a row for the same team when the Avalanche hosted the New Jersey Devils for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Devils spoil the milestone when Bob Corkum scored a shorthanded breakaway goal, in the first period, and Turner Stevenson scored the winning goal less than three minutes later, to give the Devils a 2-1 victory.
Reaching the Final
A pair of teams punched their tickets to the Stanley Cup Final on this date. On May 29, 2014, the New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens 1-0, in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final. Dominic Moore scored the only goal of the game as the Rangers advance to the Final for the first time since their magical run in 1994. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist only had to make 18 saves for the shutout. The win was the 42nd of his playoff career, putting him ahead of Mike Richter for most in team history.
The Rangers’ reign as Eastern Conference champions was ended exactly one year later. The Tampa Bay Lightning won 2-0 at Madison Square Garden, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. Alex Killorn broke the scoreless tie early in the third period before Ondrej Palat added an insurance goal about 10 minutes later. Ben Bishop made 23 saves for the shutout and picked up the secondary assist on Palat’s goal.
Odds & Ends
On May 29, 1973, the Kings acquired defenseman Bob Murdoch and forward Randy Rota from the Canadiens, in exchange for a future first-round draft choice. Montreal used that pick, in 1974, to select Mario Tremblay, who scored 258 goals and 584 points in 852 games with the Canadiens. He was a part of four Stanley Cup-winning teams during the 1970s.
Pat Burns resigned as head coach of the Canadiens, on May 29, 1992, citing his frustration with the media in Montreal. This was just three years removed from a trip the Stanley Cup Final and the Jack Adams Award for being the league’s top coach, in 1989. Later that day, Burns was named the head coach of the Maple Leafs. He won a second Adams Award in his first season in Toronto, which ended against the Kings on the one-year anniversary of taking the job.
The Columbus Blue Jackets signed free agent Brett Harkins, on May 29, 2001. He only played 25 games the following season, but he went down as the first native of Ohio to play for the team. His nephew, Jansen Harkins, made his NHL debut for the Winnipeg Jets during the 2019-20 season.
Dominik Hasek recorded his 10th career playoff shutout, on May 29, 2002, in the Red Wings’ 2-0 win over the Avalanche, in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. Brendan Shanahan and Darren McCarty scored to force a seventh and final game back in Detroit.
On May 29, 2004, Miikka Kiprusoff recorded his fifth career playoff shutout, to give the Calgary Flames a 3-0 win over the visiting Lightning, in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Jarome Iginla led the charge offensively with a goal and an assist. Chris Simon and Shean Donovan scored in the second period before Iginla added a power-play goal late in regulation.
Defenseman Brent Seabrook scored one of the most important goals in Chicago Blackhawks’ history on May 29, 2013. Seabrook’s overtime goal gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 win over the Red Wings, in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Niklas Hjalmarsson thought he put the Blackhawks ahead late in regulation, but the goal was waved off because of a penalty behind the play. Seabrook struck at the 3:25 mark of overtime to make the Blackhawks the 25th team in NHL history to win a seven-game playoff series after falling behind 3-1.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators opened the Stanley Cup Final, on May 29, 2017, at the PPG Paints Arena. The Penguins get the home crowd going with first period goals from Evgeni Malkin, Conor Sheary and Nick Bonino. The Predators stormed back thanks to strikes by Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau. However, about three minutes after Nashville drew even in the third period, Jake Guentzel broke the tie with his 10th goal of the postseason. Bonino added an empty-netter to seal the deal with a minute remaining.
Happy Birthday to You
May 29 is the birthday of 23 current and former NHL players. Some of the birthday boys celebrating today are Claude Loiselle (57), Brian Noonan (55), Mike Keane (53), Jason Allison (45), Alyn McCauley (43), Chris Porter (36), Nathan Horton (35), Steve Mason (32) and Patrick Brown (28).