Blues History, Canadiens History, Column, Doug Harvey, Hockey History, Jaromir Jagr, Jets History, Panthers History, Penguins History, Rangers History, Spencer Knight, Wayne Gretzky

Today in Hockey History: April 20

April 20 has been a busy day in National Hockey League history. Among all the big moments, we saw some new records and Stanley Cup Playoff firsts. The THW time machine is fired up and ready to take back through the decades to relive all the memories this date has had to offer.

Wayne Gretzky & Pittsburgh Penguins Set All-Time Marks

On April 20, 1992, Gretzky became the first player to score 300 points in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The milestone came during his four-assist performance to beat his former team, the Edmonton Oilers, 8-5, in Game 2 of the Smythe Division Semifinals. The Great One remains the only player in NHL history who has 300 postseason points after retiring with 382. His old teammate Mark Messier is second all-time with 295 career points in the playoffs.

Wayne Gretzky, Los Angeles Kings
Will anyone ever join Gretzky in the 300-point club? (Photo By Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

The following year, on April 20, 1993, the Pittsburgh Penguins set a record by winning their 13th straight Stanley Cup Playoff game. The historic win came in a 7-0 whitewashing of the New Jersey Devils in Game 2 of the Patrick Division Semifinals. Ron Francis picked up four assists while Tom Barrasso made 36 saves for his third career playoff shutout.

The Penguins extended their winning streak to 14 games before the Devils beat them on April 25, 1993. The New Islanders knocked them out, in seven games, in the next round to end the Penguins’ two-year reign as Stanley Cup Champions.

More Stanley Cup Playoff Firsts

On April 20, 1950, Don Raleigh of the New York Rangers became the first player in league history to score overtime goals in back-to-back Stanley Cup Final games. Two nights after beating the Detroit Red Wings in overtime of Game 4, he strikes again just 1:38 in the extra time of Game 5 to give the Rangers a 3-2 series lead. Raleigh was the only player to accomplish this feat until John LeClair did it for the Montreal Canadiens during the 1993 Final.

Jean Beliveau scored his first and only postseason hat trick on April 20, 1968. The legendary forward tallied three goals in the Canadiens’ 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. The Blackhawks opened the scoring before Beliveau tied it in the first period. He completed his hat trick with a pair of power-play goals in the middle frame.

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Bobby Orr scored his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal on April 20, 1969. He scored the eventual game-winning goal in a Boston Bruins’ 3-2 victory over the Canadiens, beating Rogie Vachon. He finished his remarkable career with 26 goals and 92 points in 74 postseason games.

Tony Esposito got his nickname of “Tony 0” during his tremendous rookie season of 1969-70 when he earned an NHL-record 15 shutouts. He picked up his first postseason shutout on April 20, 1971, with a 3-0 blanking of the Rangers, in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals.

Exactly three years later, another Hall of Fame netminder picked up his first career shutout in the playoffs. Bernie Parent stopped everything the Rangers threw at him in a 4-0 win in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. Rick MacLeish scored two goals and an added assist, while Gary Dornhoefer had three assists.

Bernie Parent Philadelphia Flyers 1975
Parent spent two seasons collecting hardware with Flyers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

The Winnipeg Jets beat the Minnesota Wild 5-0 on April 20, 2018, to advance out of the first round. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves to pick up his second straight shutout. This marked the franchise’s first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff series win since entering the league as the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999. It was the first playoff series win in Winnipeg since the original Jets (now Arizona Coyotes) won their Smythe Division Semifinal series over the Calgary Flames in 1987.

Odd & Ends

On April 20, 1958, the Canadiens beat the Bruins 5-3 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Bernie Geoffrion scored a pair of goals as the Canadiens became just the second team to win three straight Stanley Cups in NHL history. The Toronto Maple Leafs were the first team to do it between 1947 and 1949.

The St. Louis Blues made their first big splash in free agency when they signed Doug Harvey on April 20, 1968. The 44-year-old defenseman played the final year of his Hall of Fame career in St. Louis and showed he still had a little something left in the tank. He played in 70 regular-season contests, the most games he played since the 1956-57 season, and helped the Blues reach the 1969 Stanley Cup Final with four assists in eight playoff games.

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Craig MacTavish skated in his final NHL game on April 20, 1997. The Blues’ season and MacTavish’s career come to an end following a 3-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. He went down in NHL history as the final player to skate in a game without wearing a helmet. The league made helmets mandatory before the 1979-80 season, but MacTavish is the last player who was still grandfathered in to play without one.

On April 20, 2002, Curtis Joseph recorded his 13th career playoff shutout in the Maple Leafs’ 2-0 win over the Islanders in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Mats Sundin had assists on both of Toronto’s third-period goals. Joseph retired with 16 career playoff shutouts; only Patrick Roy (23) and Martin Brodeur (24) had more in NHL history.

Related: Top 3 All-Time Maple Leafs Goalies

Jaromir Jagr made history on April 20, 2016, during the Florida Panthers’ 2-1 victory over the Islanders, in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series. Jagr set up Jonathan Huberdeau’s power-play goal in the second period to become just the fifth player ever to score 200 postseason points.

Jaromir Jagr, NHL, Florida Panthers, Milestones
Few did it better and longer than Jagr. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He would get one more playoff point before heading back to his native Czechia to play. Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby joined him in the 200-point club during the 2022 Playoffs when he notched two goals and 10 points in the first round against the Rangers. He now sits at 201 points.

Two milestones were set on this night in 2021 when Tristan Jarry became the first goaltender since Barrasso (four in 1991-92) to record four assists in a season and the Devils scored six goals in one period for the fifth time in their history. The last one was against the Hartford Whalers back on April 6, 1996. This particular high-scoring affair in April ended up being won by the Penguins 7-6.

To continue the goaltending milestones, Spencer Knight also got in on the fun when he became the first goaltender in Panthers’ history to win his NHL debut when he and his team prevailed over the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-1 on April 20, 2021. He was also the youngest goalie in franchise history to earn a win, surpassing Roberto Luongo, who did it on Nov. 25, 2000, at the young age of 21 years, 235 days.

On April 20, 2022, Alex Ovechkin scored his 49th goal to pass Teemu Selanne for the most goals in a season by a player 36 years or older in NHL history.

On that same night, John Klingberg recorded his 300th assist in the NHL to become the third Dallas Stars defenseman with 300 assists, behind only Sergei Zubov (438) and Craig Hartsburg (315). He is now with the Minnesota Wild after signing with the Anaheim Ducks in the offseason and getting traded to Minnesota at the 2023 Trade Deadline.

Happy Birthday to You

Mike Lampman was born on April 20, 1950. While that name might not ring a bell, Lampman has the distinction of being the first-ever player born in California to reach the NHL. He skated in 96 games for the Blues, Vancouver Canucks, and Washington Capitals between 1973 and 1977. He turns 73 today.

Other notable players who are celebrating birthdays are Viacheslav Fetisov (65), Chris Mason (47), Brent Seabrook (38), Nick Bonino (35), Colton Sceviour (34), Derek Grant (33), Dylan McIlrath (31), Michael Ferland (31), Ben Hutton (30), Shayne Gostisbehere (30), Kurtis Gabriel (30) and Adam Erne (28).

*Originally constructed by Greg Boysen

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