MAY 18 NHL HISTORY
1971: Jean Beliveau goes into retirement as a 10-time Stanley Cup winner when the Canadiens rally from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in Game 7 of the Final. The packed house at Chicago Stadium roars its approval when Dennis Hull gives the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead late in the first period and again when Danny O’Shea makes it 2-0 at 7:33 of the second. But the game turns late in the second when Jacques Lemaire takes a slap shot from near the red line that sails past goaltender Tony Esposito, cutting the margin to 2-1. Henri Richard scores late in the second to make it 2-2, then puts Montreal ahead 3-2 at 2:34 of the third. Rookie goaltender Ken Dryden makes 31 saves, 12 in the third period, to help the Canadiens win the Cup for the 17th time. Though Beliveau is scoreless in Game 7, he finishes the playoffs with 22 points in 20 games, tied for third in the League.
1973: Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins is named the winner of the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman for the sixth straight season. It’s the first time in League history that a player wins an individual award six times in a row. Orr ends 1972-73 with 29 goals and 101 points; Guy Lapointe of the Canadiens is second among defensemen in each category with 19 goals and 54 points.
1978: The Montreal Canadiens‘ streak of 11 straight wins in the Final (Game 6 in 1973, sweeps in 1976 and 1977, and the first two games in 1978) ends when they lose 4-0 to the Bruins at Boston Garden in Game 3. Gerry Cheevers makes 16 saves for the eighth and final playoff shutout of his NHL career. Jean Ratelle sets up first-period goals by Gary Doak and Rick Middleton, and Peter McNab scores a goal and has an assist in the third. It’s the first loss in the Final by the Canadiens since Game 5 in 1973, and comes after they sweep in 1976 and ’77 and win the first two games of this series.
1986: Brian Skrudland scores the fastest overtime goal in Stanley Cup Playoff history when he beats goaltender Mike Vernon nine seconds into OT to give the Montreal Canadiens a 3-2 victory against the Calgary Flames in Game 2 of the Final at the Saddledome.
Calgary leads 2-0 early in the second period before goals by Gaston Gingras and David Maley tie the game 2-2. On a hunch, Montreal coach Jean Perron sends out his checking line of Skrudland, Mike McPhee and Claude Lemieux to start overtime. The Canadiens win the opening faceoff and Skrudland finishes a 2-on-1 break by directing a pass from McPhee Vernon.
“Mike couldn’t have made a nicer play than that, but leave it to me to almost [mess] it up,” Skrudland told the Canadiens website years later. “I had a wide-open net, the full 4-by-6 to shoot at, but I still managed to bank it in off the post and in. The important thing was that it got past Vernon and we headed home with the series tied 1-1.”
Skrudland becomes the first player since Cy Wentworth of the Chicago Blackhawks in 1931 to score his first NHL playoff goal in overtime of the Final.
1990: Jari Kurri of the Edmonton Oilers turns 30 and celebrates by scoring three goals and assisting on two others in a 7-2 victory against the Bruins at Boston Garden in Game 2 of the Final. Kurri (briefly) becomes the NHL’s all-time leading playoff goal scorer, passing linemate Wayne Gretzky. He also becomes the second player in NHL history (after Gretzky) to have 200 playoff points.
1997: Wayne Gretzky gets his 10th and final playoff hat trick by scoring three times in the New York Rangers’ 5-4 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Spectrum in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final. Gretzky scores twice in less than two minutes in the first period and completes his hat trick midway through the second. His former Edmonton teammate, Paul Coffey, beats New York goaltender Mike Richter early in the second period to join Larry Murphy as the only defensemen in NHL history to score playoff goals for five different teams.