THIS DATE IN HISTORY: May 31
1961: Defenseman Doug Harvey, a six-time Norris Trophy winner with the Montreal Canadiens, signs a contract with the New York Rangers to serve as player-coach, replacing Alf Pike. The Canadiens receive forward Lou Fontinato from the Rangers as compensation. Harvey goes on to win his seventh Norris Trophy in 1961-62 and help the Rangers qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1958.
1987: The Edmonton Oilers win the Stanley Cup for the third time in four seasons by defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 in Game 7 of the Final at Northlands Coliseum. Jari Kurri scores at 14:59 of the second period to put the Oilers ahead 2-1, and Glenn Anderson makes it 3-1 with 2:24 remaining in the third. Edmonton outshoots Philadelphia 43-20, but rookie goaltender Ron Hextall makes 40 saves to keep the Flyers in the game. Hextall also becomes the fourth player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. “I’m proud of winning the [Conn] Smythe,” he said years later, “but I’d take the other Cup ahead of that one.”
1994: The Vancouver Canucks win a Cup Final game for the first time in their history when Greg Adams scores at 19:26 of overtime for a 3-2 victory against the New York Rangers in Game 1 at Madison Square Garden. Martin Gelinas ties the game 2-2 with 60 seconds remaining in the third period, and the Canucks survive a 17-shot barrage in overtime before Adams beats Rangers goalie Mike Richter. The other hero is Vancouver goaltender Kirk McLean, who finishes with 52 saves. The Canucks are in the Final for the second time in their history, having been swept by the New York Islanders in 1982.
2001: Ray Bourque‘s last Stanley Cup Playoff goal is one for the record books.
The 40-year-old defenseman becomes the oldest player in NHL history to score a goal in the Stanley Cup Final when he scores 31 seconds into the third period of the Colorado Avalanche’s 3-1 victory against the New Jersey Devils in Game 3 at Continental Airlines Arena. Bourque’s 41st and final NHL playoff goal, a shot past goaltender Martin Brodeur after a faceoff win by Joe Sakic, breaks a 1-1 tie.
“For me, I can probably say it’s my biggest goal,” said Bourque, who’s in his second season with Colorado after more than 20 years with the Boston Bruins.
2002: Dominik Hasek sets a single-year playoff record with his fifth shutout and the Detroit Red Wings advance to the Cup Final with a 7-0 victory against the Avalanche in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit scores four times in less than 11 minutes of the first period against Patrick Roy and the Avalanche muster all of 19 shots against Hasek.
2003: Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere extends his overtime shutout streak to 167:48, surpassing Roy’s record of 162:56, before defenseman Ruslan Salei scores at 6:59 of OT to give the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim a 3-2 victory against the visiting Devils in Game 3 of the Cup Final.
2004: Center Brad Richards sets a Stanley Cup Playoff single-season record with his seventh game-winning goal when he scores the only goal in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 1-0 victory against the Calgary Flames in Game 4 of the Final at Pengrowth Saddledome. Richards’ power-play goal 2:48 into the game holds up as the winner because Nikolai Khabibulin makes 29 saves for the sixth playoff shutout of his career.
2011: The NHL returns to Winnipeg when the Atlanta Thrashers are sold to True North Sports & Entertainment. The franchise, renamed the Winnipeg Jets, will begin play in Manitoba’s capital for the 2011-12 season. The original Jets move to Phoenix and are renamed the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996.