Greg Boysen The Hockey Writers
Today in Hockey History: Feb. 25
Today’s voyage through National Hockey League history will be a long one as it begins in the first season played and finishes in 2020. In the over 100 years of memories made on this date, we saw hat tricks, plenty of assists, goaltending milestones and a whole slew of big moments. Let’s get our journey started!
A Trip in the Way Back Machine
Clint Benedict recorded the first shutout in Ottawa Senators history, on Feb. 25, 1918, and Cy Denneny scored three goals in an 8-0 win over the visiting Montreal Canadiens. Benedict went on to record 57 shutouts during his 13-season career with the Senators and Montreal Maroons.
Jake Forbes set an NHL record, on Feb. 25, 1925, with his sixth shutout of the season as he led the Hamilton Tigers to a 2-0 win against the visiting Senators.
Cooney Weiland became the first player in Boston Bruins history to have a four-goal game, on Feb. 25, 1930, in a 7-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Goaltender Tiny Thompson earned his 15th career shutout as the Bruins won their 16th straight game at Boston Garden.
On that same night, Alex Connell became the first goaltender in NHL history to record 60 career shutouts, as Frank Finnigan scored two overtime goals in the Senators’ 2-0 overtime victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The New York Rangers won their 14th straight home game, on Feb. 25, 1940, by beating the Canadiens 6-2. This was the first hockey game broadcasted on television in the United States. W2XBS in New York City used one camera to send the game out to 300 TV receivers.
Maurice Richard set an NHL record with his 45th goal of the season, on Feb. 25, 1945, in the Canadiens’ 5-2 win versus the Maple Leafs. He broke the previous single-season record of 44 goals, set by Joe Malone of the Habs, back in the NHL’s inaugural season of 1917-18.
New York Islanders’ Greats Take Center Stage
Mike Bossy set an NHL record for goals by a rookie, when he scored his 45th of the season, on Feb. 25, 1978, in the Islanders’ 7-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks. He broke the mark of 44 set by the Buffalo Sabres’ Rick Martin in 1971-72. Also, Bryan Trottier scored his 100th career goal to hit 100 points on the season. He became the first player in franchise history to have a 100-point season.
Billy Smith set a team record for goaltenders with his 10th straight victory, on Feb. 25, 1982, as the Islanders beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2. The victory extended their team-record home winning streak to 14 games.
Two years later, on Feb. 25, 1984, Trottier and Bossy came up big in another 7-1 Islanders’ victory, this time over the New Jersey Devils. Trottier scored a goal and set up three others, while Bossy had four assists. Greg Gilbert chipped in by scoring his first career hat trick.
And Out Come the Hats
Speaking of hat tricks, this date provided quite a few of them over the years. Starting in 1971, when Johnny Bucyk scored the fifth one of his career and added three assists in the Bruins’ 8-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Boston scored six goals in the third period, including a trio in just 20 seconds, setting a new NHL record for the fastest three goals scored. John McKenzie had two goals and three assists, while Fred Stanfield added a goal and four helpers. The Bruins outshot the Canucks 60-34.
On that same night, Pete Mahovlich scored his first NHL hat trick as the Canadiens won 5-3 at the Los Angeles Kings.
Danny Gare scored three times and added two assists, on Feb. 25, 1978, as the Sabres rolled to a 13-3 win at the Cleveland Barons. Defenseman Jerry Korab chipped in offensively with a pair of goals and three assists. Buffalo became the third team in league history to score 13 goals in a road game.
Rookie Wendel Clark scored his first career hat trick, on Feb. 25, 1986, while Russ Courtnall had a goal and three assists as the Maple Leafs beat the Rangers 7-3.
Brett Hull entered the St. Louis Blues’ game against the Canadiens, on Feb. 25, 1990, with 58 goals, equally the highest single-season total his legendary father, Bobby, had during his career. He scored his sixth career hat to finish the night with 61 goals on the season, but the Blues lose 6-5. In the first period, defenseman Eric Desjardins scored the 15,000th goal in Canadiens history.
John LeClair came back to haunt the Canadiens, on Feb. 25, 1995, in his first game in Montreal since being traded to the Philadelphia Flyers 16 days earlier. He scored his second career hat trick and Ron Hextall earned his 10th career shutout in the Flyers’ 7-0 win.
In just his seventh game with the team since being acquired from the Winnipeg Jets, on Feb. 25, 1996, Teemu Selanne drove the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim’s offense. He scored his ninth career hat trick and assisted on the fourth goal in a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks. This was just the second hat trick in Ducks’ franchise history and the first on home ice.
All About the Assists
The theme of Feb. 25 is undoubtedly helping your teammates find the back of the net. Starting in 1981, when Guy Chouinard set a Calgary Flames’ franchise record by picking up six assists in an 11-4 win over the Islanders.
Doug Wilson registered his 401st career assist, on Feb. 25, 1987, in the Blackhawks 3-3 tie with the Canadiens. This put him ahead for Pierre Pilote as the team’s all-time leader in assists by defensemen. In that same game, Larry Robinson had a helper for Montreal to reach the 800-point plateau in his career. He became just the fourth defenseman in NHL history with 800 points.
Paul Coffey of the Penguins picked up four assists, on Feb. 24, 1989, in a 5-5 tie against the Islanders. This gave him 86 points on the season, setting the single-season team record for points by a defenseman. He broke the previous mark of 83 by Randy Carlyle during the 1980-81 season.
On that same evening, Guy Lafleur picked up three assists in the Rangers’ 7-2 win over the Quebec Nordiques. This gave him to give him 1,283 career points, moving him past Alex Delvecchio into ninth place on the NHL’s all-time scoring list.
Both defenseman Gary Suter and rookie Sergei Makarov had five assists for the Flames, on this date in 1990. Makarov also scored two goals for a franchise-record seven points in a 10-4 win against the rival Edmonton Oilers.
Pelle Eklund picked up three assists in the second period, including the 300th of his NHL career, on Feb. 25, 1993, to lead the Flyers to a 6-2 win over the Devils.
Mario Lemieux became just the sixth player in NHL history to 600 goals and 900 career assists, on Feb. 25, 2001, when he set up a goal in the Penguins’ 6-1 victory against the Islanders.
Finally, on Feb. 25, 2003, Markus Naslund scored a goal and added five assists as the Canucks extended their unbeaten streak to 14 games with an 8-0 win over the visiting Atlanta Thrashers. Dan Cloutier recorded his 10th career shutout in the victory.
On Feb. 25, 2000, Mike Richter joined Ed Giacomin as the only two goaltenders in Rangers history to record 250 career victories, with a 6-3 road win at the Sabres. He retired in 2003 as the team’s all-time leader in wins with 301. He has since been passed by Henrik Lundqvist.
One year later, Dominik Hasek became the first European-born goaltender to play in 500 NHL games, as he led the Sabres to a 5-2 win over the visiting Lightning.
Martin Brodeur became the first goaltender in NHL history to win at least 30 games in nine straight seasons, on Feb. 25, 2004, when led the Devils to an 8-2 blowout win over the Sabres.
Roberto Luongo passed Ed Belfour for third place on the NHL’s all-time wins list, on Feb. 25, 2019, when the Florida Panthers beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 in overtime. He retired at the end of the season with 489 wins. Only Brodeur and Patrick Roy have won more.
Odds & Ends
The hockey-themed comedy classic Slap Shot, starring Paul Newman, was released in theaters on this date in 1977. The movie introduced us to the Hanson Brothers, Dickie Dunn, Ogie Oglethorpe and Tim McCracken as hockey fans around the world still quote this movie while at the rink.
The Canadiens’ NHL-record 28-game undefeated streak was snapped, on Feb. 28, 1978, when they lost 6-3 to the Rangers on home ice. Goaltender Hardy Astrom made his NHL debut and made 29 saves to help New York to the historic win. Montreal had gone 23-0-5 since their previous loss on Dec. 17, 1977.
Michel Goulet became the first player in Nordiques history to score 200 goals, on Feb. 25, 1984, and he added an assist in a 3-3 tie with the Blues.
Rick Vaive scored his 300th NHL goal, on Feb. 25, 1987, when the Maple Leafs lost 4-2 to the visiting Rangers.
Two years later, on Feb. 25, 1989, Brian Leetch scored for the 19th time on the season to set a new Rangers record for goals by a rookie defenseman. He also added an assist in a 7-2 victory over the Nordiques.
Cam Neeley returned after a knee injury caused him to miss the previous 106 games, on Feb. 25, 1993, and scored a power-play goal in the Bruins’ 3-3 tie with the Minnesota North Stars.
Mats Sundin scored twice to reach 30 goals on the season, on Feb. 25, 2003, to help the Maple Leafs to a 5-2 win over the Islanders. This was the 10th season of 30 goals or more during his career.
The Lightning beat the Kings 4-3 in a shootout, on Feb. 25, 2019, to become the first team to earn 100 points during the 2018-19 season. They became just the fourth team in league history to hit 100 points in 63 games or fewer. The last to do it was the 1977-78 Canadiens we just talked about, who hit triple digits in their 62nd game.
On Feb. 25, 2020, the Rangers won their franchise-record eighth straight road game with a 4-3 victory at the rival Islanders. Artemi Panarin had a goal and the assist on Mika Zibanejad’s overtime winner to extend his personal point streak to 10 games.
Happy Birthday to You
The late Hall of Famer King Clancy headlines a large group of 37 current and former NHL players born on this date. Other notable birthday boys today include Byron Dafoe (50), Anton Volchenkov (39), Jeff Schultz (35), Justin Abdelkader (34), Jamie McBain (33), T.J. Tynan (29), Joakim Nordstrom (29), Alan Quine (28), Brock Boeser (24), Joel Farabee (21) and the late Gary Doak.
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