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Short Shifts

Memorable Mario Lemieux moments on 51st birthday

Scoring five goals five ways in same game among career highlights

by Pat Pickens @Pat_Pickens / Staff Writer

Mario Lemieux turned 51 on Wednesday, which makes it a good time to look back at the career of the Hall of Fame center/captain/owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Tweet from @penguins: Happy birthday to Super Mario!

To celebrate No. 66's birthday, here are six of Lemieux's most memorable moments:


6. Lemieux caps Game 1 comeback: May 26, 1992

After winning the Stanley Cup in 1991, the Penguins returned to the Cup Final in 1992 where they played the Chicago Blackhawks. Pittsburgh trailed 4-1 in the second period, but Lemieux led a comeback by scoring twice, including the game-winning goal with 12.6 seconds left in the third period to give the Penguins 5-4 win.

Pittsburgh won the next three games to sweep Chicago, and Lemieux won the Conn Smythe Trophy for the second straight season.

Watch: Youtube Video


5. All-Star magic: Jan. 21, 1990

The 1990 NHL All-Star Game was held at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena, and Lemieux put on a show for the packed house. He started the scoring 21 seconds into the game, the first of his three first-period goals.

With the Wales Conference leading the Campbell Conference 9-4, Lemieux scored his fourth goal of the game at 1:07 of the third period, tying the All-Star Game record for goals. In a game that featured 21 future members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Lemieux's star outshone everyone else and he was named All-Star MVP for the third time.

Watch: Lemieux scores four times


4. The 'last' home goal: April 23, 1997

Lemieux battled back injuries and Hodgkins' lymphoma, which forced him to miss most of the 1993-94 season and the entire 1994-95 season.

Lemieux scored 50 goals and 122 points in 76 games during the 1996-97 season, winning the Art Ross Trophy for the sixth time. But on April 6, 1997, at age 31, Lemieux announced that he would retire after the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The sixth-seeded Penguins lost the first three games to the Philadelphia Flyers in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series en route to a five-game exit.

But in its last home game of the season, Pittsburgh built a 3-1 lead in the third period. Lemieux then put the game away with a goal for the ages that set off an eruption in the Civic Arena.

Watch: Lemieux's final goal at home


3. Mario returns: Dec. 27, 2000

Lemieux was retired for more than three years before he returned to the Penguins, but he looked as good as ever in his first game back, against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Lemieux had three points, including an assist on Jaromir Jagr's goal 33 seconds into the game and a goal at 10:33 of the second. He had multiple points in each of his first six games and finished the season with 76 points in 43 games. He was second in voting for the Hart Trophy and had three game-winning goals in the playoffs, helping the Penguins reach the Eastern Conference Final before falling to the New Jersey Devils in five games.

Watch: Lemieux returns


2. The Goal: May 17, 1991

The Penguins lost Game 1 of the 1991 Stanley Cup Final to the Minnesota North Stars. But Lemieux put his stamp on Game 2, helping the Penguins to a 4-1 victory. He had two points, including a highlight-reel goal that saw him carry the puck across the red line, split two defenders, then deke around Minnesota goalie Jon Casey and put the puck into the wide-open net to give the Penguins a 3-1 lead.

The Penguins defeated the North Stars in six games, winning the first championship in the franchise's 24-season history. Lemieux won the Conn Smythe Trophy and finished the playoffs with 44 points, second in NHL history behind Wayne Gretzky's 47 in 1985.

Watch: Lemieux splits two defenders and scores


1. Five goals, five ways: Dec. 31, 1988

On New Year's Eve 1988, Lemieux had a hand in each of the Penguins' eight goals, scoring five of them in an 8-6 win against the Devils. The five goals were remarkable because he scored an even-strength goal, a shorthanded goal, a power-play goal and a penalty-shot goal before capping his performance with an empty-net goal.

Lemieux finished the 1988-89 season with career-highs of 85 goals and 199 points. Scoring five goals in five ways in one game is an achievement that will be hard to repeat.

Watch: Lemieux scores five times

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