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Gordie Howe scores his final NHL goal

Gets one in playoff game with assist from son April 9, 1980

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / Managing Editor

Gordie Howe made his last NHL goal a family affair. 

Three days after scoring his 801st and final regular-season goal, Howe scored his last of his 68 Stanley Cup Playoff goals. It came on April 9, 1980, when he put a long backhand shot past goaltender Denis Herron at 13:59 of the third period of the Hartford Whalers' 8-4 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Game 2 of the Preliminary Round.

Video: Memories: Gordie Howe scores his final playoff goal

The goal was his first in a Stanley Cup game in 10 years. He hadn't scored a goal in a postseason game since April 12, 1970, when he beat Tony Esposito midway through the first period of the Detroit Red Wings' 4-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of their quarterfinal series.

Howe was 42 back then; he had another season, his 25th, with the Detroit Red Wings, ahead of him, as well as six seasons in the World Hockey Association and a triumphant return to the NHL with the Whalers in 1979-80, when he finished with 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists) in a season that ended a week after his 52nd birthday.

Mark Howe, one of two sons playing with Gordie that night, raced up the right wing, carried the puck into the Montreal zone and slid it to his father. Gordie cut toward the top of the left circle and quickly took a long backhand shot through traffic that went past Herron.

"No. 9, father Howe, and No. 5, Mark Howe. The crowd appreciates that," announcer Danny Gallivan said on the telecast when Gordie basked in a standing ovation, one that was a little easier for the Forum fans to give because the Canadiens still led by four goals.

"A tremendous tribute to one of the most amazing athletes in any sport."

Howe's goal made no difference to the outcome of the game or the series, which ended two nights later when the Canadiens completed a sweep with a 4-3 overtime victory.

Still, it was a night to remember for the entire Howe family, and not only because of Gordie's goal. It was also the only time in their careers that Gordie, Mark and Marty Howe each had a point in the same NHL game. Gordie and Marty each finished with a goal and an assist; Mark had assists on third-period goals by his father and brother. 

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