March 21 has been quite the eventful date in National Hockey League history. It gave us a memorable goaltending performance in Boston, some great milestones in Pittsburgh and plenty of memories made by Hall of Famers. The THW time machine is fired up and ready to take us back through the decades to relive the best moments made on this date.
50 & 500 Rule the Day
Frank Mahovlich scored once to become the fifth NHL player to rack up 500 career goals on March 21, 1973, during the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. He became the third player to score his 500th career goal in a Canadiens uniform.
Bobby Carpenter became the first U.S.-born player in NHL history to have a 50-goal season on March 21, 1985, with a goal in the Washington Capitals’ 3-2 loss at the Canadiens.
Lanny McDonald became the 14th player in league history to score 500 career goals on March 21, 1989, as the Calgary Flames beat the New York Islanders 4-1. Joe Nieuwendyk scored his 50th goal of the season, becoming the third player in history to score 50 goals in each of his first two NHL seasons. Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky were the other two on this short list.
On that same night, Mark Messier scored a goal and recorded his 500th career assist in a 4-3 Edmonton Oilers’ loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
Tugnutt Goes Crazy in Boston
On March 21, 1991, Tugnutt started for the Quebec Nordiques at the old Boston Garden and was pushed to the limits by the Boston Bruins. He was peppered with 73 shots, stopping 70 of them, and yet, he didn’t win. The game ended in a 3-3 tie with the Bruins holding a 73-26 shot advantage. Bruins’ defenseman Ray Bourque set an NHL record with 19 of those shots on goal.
Tugnutt faced 17 shots in the first period, 19 in the second and 25 in the third period. He stopped all 12 shots he saw in the five-minute overtime session to earn the tie.
Even though 70 saves are incredible, it was still 10 saves shy of the all-time record. Sam LoPresti holds that one when he made 80 saves for the Chicago Black Hawks in a game against the Bruins on March 5, 1941. LoPresti later left the NHL to serve in the U.S. Navy and was aboard a merchant ship that was torpedoed and spent 42 days on a lifeboat before being rescued.
Martin Brodeur’s Trio of Milestones
You can have an in-depth conversation about great goaltender without Brodeur’s name eventually coming up.
The Hall of Fame goaltender made three memories on this date, starting in 2001 when he recorded his 50th career shutout in the New Jersey Devils’ 4-0 win over the New York Rangers. His eighth shutout of the season extended the Devils’ unbeaten streak over their rivals from the Big Apple to 23 games, going 15-0-8 since 1997.
A year later, Brodeur tied an NHL record with his seventh straight 30-win season with a 4-3 road victory at the Nashville Predators. He joined Tony Esposito and Ken Dryden as the only goaltenders to win 30 games in seven straight seasons.
Finally, in 2013, Brodeur is credited with a power-play goal in the first period of a 4-1 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes. In his first game back after missing 13 games due to a neck injury, he made a save during a delayed penalty. Hurricanes’ center Jordan Staal made an errant back pass that went down the length of the ice into his vacated net. This was the second regular-season goal of Brodeur’s career.
CBC Starts a New Tradition
Although Hockey Night in Canada’s origins began with radio broadcasts as early as 1929, the roots for a long run on television began on March 21, 1951. This was the first time the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation televised a live NHL game.
The cameras were set up inside the old Maple Leaf Garden as the Toronto Maple Leafs hosted the Canadiens. The first broadcast was only viewed by six people, watching the feed in the arena’s radio control room, but it set the foundation for what was to come.
The CBC began airing games on Saturday nights in 1952. Beginning with the 1967 Stanley Cup playoffs, all Hockey Night in Canada games were broadcast in color going forward. CBC’s deal with the NHL ran out following the 2013-14 season and rights for the national broadcasts were given to Rogers Communications. As part of the deal, CBC sublicensed a package of games from Rogers, allowing the network to continue airing Hockey Night in Canada at least the first four seasons of the agreement.
Pittsburgh Penguins Make Plenty of History
The Penguins have enjoyed playing on March 21 over the years. In 1993, Mario Lemieux and Kevin Stevens lit the lamp in the first period of a 6-4 win over the Oilers in a neutral-site game played in Cleveland, OH. It was the 50th goal of the season for both players as they became the first set of teammates in league history to reach 50 goals in the same game.
Exactly five years later, the number 1,000 was lucky during a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at the old Civic Arena. Future Hall of Famer Ron Francis picked up his 1,00th career assist in helping the Penguins become the 10th team in the NHL to win 1,000 games.
Sidney Crosby scored a goal and became the 53rd player in NHL history to record 700 career assists on March 21, 2018, in the Penguins’ 5-3 win over the Canadiens.
Odds & Ends
On March 21, 1921, more than 11,000 fans filled the Vancouver Arena for the first game of the Stanley Cup Final to see the Millionaires defeat the Ottawa Senators 3-1. At the time, this the largest crowd ever to watch a hockey game.
Gordie Howe became the first player in NHL history to lead the league in scoring four straight years on March 21, 1954, when he had a goal and two assists in the Detroit Red Wings’ regular-season finale, a 6-1 win over the Maple Leafs.
Before the Bruins hosted the St. Louis Blues on March 21, 1974, Bobby Orr promised a gravely ill 16-year-old fan he’d score a goal for him. Orr under-promised and over-delivered by scoring his fifth career hat trick to reach the 30-goal mark on the season as Boston won 7-0.
Tiger Williams racked up 31 penalty minutes in the Vancouver Canucks’ 5-3 loss at the Canadiens. This made him the first player in NHL to score 30 goals and have 300 penalty minutes in the same season.
Ilkka Sinisalo scored the 4,000th goal in Flyers’ history on March 21, 1982, during a 5-3 win over the Hartford Whalers at the Spectrum.
Bernie Federko became the first player in Blues history to record 600 career assists on March 21, 1986, during a lost 7-6 to the visiting Devils.
Two years later, Joe Mullen scored twice to become the first U.S.-born player to have 250 career goals, as the Flames extended their team-record road undefeated streak to 9 games (6-0-3) with a 3-3 tie at the Canadiens.
Brett Hull scored four goals, including his 30th career hat trick on March 21, 2001, as the Dallas Stars won 8-0 against the visiting Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. This moved him into seventh place on the NHL’s all-time goal list, past Steve Yzerman and tied with Lemieux at 644 goals.
Happy Birthday to You
The late Duke Keats is the lone Hall of Famer of the 24 players who have skated in the NHL, born on March 21. Other notable names of this group include Jim Kyte (57), Al Iafrate (55), Johan Garpenlov (53), Boris Mironov (49), Rostislav Klesla (39), Ryan Callahan (36), Erik Johnson (33), Sven Andrighetto (28) and Mirco Mueller (26).
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.