The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Brayden Point is riding a playoff goal streak that’s reached nine games, and Ottawa Senators fans have been reminded by broadcasters that the last player to have a six-game scoring streak or more was Martin Havlát in 2006 with the Senators. His name in the books with six other players who acheived a six-game playoff goal streak including Mario Lemieux (1989) and Johnny Bucyk (1970). Eight seven-game goal streaks (Lemieux with two) sit between Point’s current run and Havlát and company.
Point now holds the second-longest streak in NHL playoff history after Reggie Leach’s remarkable 10-game run in 1976 when he scored 15 goals and two assists. Point’s play has put a spotlight on playoff scoring streaks, so it’s worth revisiting Havlát’s offensive feat with the Senators.
A Unique Season
Havlát entered his fifth and final season with the Senators in 2005-06 and only played 18 games. After receiving a five-game suspension early in the season, he suffered a shoulder injury that needed surgery and kept him out for 58 games. Despite that he played less than a quarter of the regular season, he notched nine goals and seven assists. He played in the final two games of the season after returning from injury reserve, which was all he needed to get back into a groove before the playoffs, even if he didn’t score.
Turning It on in the Playoffs
Oddly, Havlát’s season and early playoff production in 2006 are similar to the Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov’s in 2020-21. Both missed nearly all or all of the regular season, only to step into the playoffs and look like they hadn’t missed a game. Kucherov has 27 points in 17 playoff games, while Havlát put up 13 points in 10 games for the Senators on an, unfortunately, much shorter run that ended with a second-round loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Despite losing the series 4-1, every game was decided by one goal, including three overtime losses for the Senators, as the Sabres stifled Havlát’s offensive production and other stars like Dany Heatley and Zdeno Chara.
The bright spot of this playoff run, however, was Havlát’s play between April 21 and May 5, which covered five games in the first round against the Lightning and Game 1 of the series against the Sabres. In that time, he scored seven goals and 12 points. Before his goal streak, the last player to reach a streak of five-games or more was Markus Näslund of the Vancouver Canucks in the 2003 Playoffs. In the 2006 Playoffs, two other players, Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings and Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks, put together five-game goal streaks over a similar number of games. Oddly, none of these teams won the Stanley Cup in the same year that these players put up excellent offensive stretches. Nevertheless, Havlát’s extra goal lands him higher on the list than his contemporaries.
Game 1 of Havlát’s Goal Streak
The Senators won Game 1 of their series against the Lightning 4-1. All five goals were scored by special teams. With 16 penalties called in the game, the Lightning went up 1-0 on a power-play goal by Vincent Lecavalier near the end of the first period until Havlát notched the first of his streak to spark a run of four consecutive goals by the Senators. Jason Spezza, Mike Fisher, and Daniel Alfredsson added to the tally through the power play, a shorthanded marker, and an empty-net goal, respectively. Havlát hadn’t scored since the Nov. 29 regular-season game against the Montréal Canadiens when he left with the shoulder injury, so, we can say, that goal took some weight off his shoulders.
Game 2 was the Lightning’s only win of the series, a 4-3 victory. Tampa Bay had a 2-1 lead, when Havlát scored another tying goal on the power play. He added his first assist of the series on Peter Schaefer’s first of the campaign early in the third period to put the Senators up 3-2. Within three minutes of Schaefer’s goal however, goals from Dan Boyle and Martin St. Louis sealed the game for the Lightning.
Game 3 was the highest-scoring bout of the series, an 8-4 win for the Senators, as Havlát doubled his series point total. By the end of the game, he had four goals and two assists in three games. He opened the scoring at 5:20 into the first period on a feed from Chara for his first even-strength goal of the series.
His second of the game came 2:17 into the second period, and he returned the favour to Chara later in the third with Spezza’s help, setting up the big defenseman on the power play for his first of the playoffs. In a game that had 129 total penalty minutes, Havlát managed to keep his name strictly to the offensive side of the scoresheet.
The Senators took a commanding 3-1 series lead after winning Game 4, 5-2. Brad Richards was back at it, helping the Lightning take a 2-1 lead in the second period with a goal and an assist. The Senators came out firing in the second, however, and after a Chris Phillips goal at 5:59, scored two within 40 seconds between the 17- and 18-minute marks of the period. Havlát was, of course, in on both goals, assisting on Heatley’s power-play goal and scoring his fifth of the playoffs to give the Senators a 4-2 lead. Rookie goaltender Ray Emery made 30 saves to help put the Lightning on the brink of elimination.
In Game 5, the Senators were ready to close out their opponents. Havlát got on the score sheet with an assist on Schaefer’s second of the series to open the scoring. With Ruslan Fedotenko in the penalty box for tripping just over 15 minutes into the second period, Havlát scored his sixth of the series to give him a five-game goal-scoring streak, and etch his name in the record books alongside other greats, like fellow Czech Jaromir Jagr (1996 and 2000), Maurice Richard (1946), and Gordie Drillon (1939). Alfredsson added his name to the five-game goal streak list the following playoffs (2007), thanks to a stretch of goals between May 2 and May 14. Havlát led the way during this run with 10 points, and the Senators took down the Lightning and defending Stanley Cup Champions in five games.
Game 6 of the Streak (Game 1 of the Second Round)
Game 1 of the series against the Sabres was the Senators’ highest-scoring affair of the 2006 Playoffs. They scored six goals and had the lead five times throughout the game but couldn’t manage a seventh before Chris Drury’s overtime winner. Havlát added his final goal of the streak 1:47 into the second period to give the Senators a 3-2 lead at the time and put all of his skills on display.
Senators defenseman Christoph Schubert gained control of the puck in the Senators’ zone and fed Havlát a breakaway pass at the offensive blue line. Havlát caught two Sabres defenders who, thinking the puck was deep in the Senators’ zone, were moving towards their bench to make a long change until he picked up the tape-to-tape pass and burst toward Ryan Miller in the Sabres’ net. Havlát carried the puck on his left side, protecting it from the closest defender, trying to make a move around his right hip. As the defender came around to his left side and chopped down on his stick from behind, he cut to the right and slid the puck around Miller, who tried to match Havlát’s move by sliding to his left. The young Czech turned right to the Senators bench and received helmet taps all around.
Havlát added an assist on Mike Fisher’s second goal of the playoffs early in the third, but Game 1 was already a bad omen for the Senators. Havlát took a hooking penalty later in the period. The Sabres didn’t score on the ensuing power play – nor did they score on his second penalty of the playoffs in Game 4, the only game the Senators won – but the obstruction penalties signalled that Havlát was off his game and neutralized by the Sabres’ defence. He was penalty-free in a rough series against the Lightning and played to his strengths. The Sabres got under his skin and kept him to only one more assist in Game 5, as the Senators tried to hold off elimination. A shorthanded goal by Jason Pominville in overtime ended the Senators’ playoff run and any chance of Havlát finding his groove again for the Senators.
It wasn’t the ideal finish to the playoffs or their season, but Havlát’s streak is a post-season highlight for Senators fans and is deserving of a trip down memory lane as hockey fans watch Brayden Point chase Reggie Leach’s incredible feat.
Sports and music writer, covering the Ottawa Senators for The Hockey Writers. Lecturer at King’s University College. Loves a good day at the outdoor rink.