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This Date in NHL History

April 6: Gordie Howe scores in final NHL game

Plus: Denis Potvin sets rookie defensemen records; Wayne Gretzky wins Art Ross Trophy for sixth straight season

by John Kreiser @JKreiser7713 / NHL.com Managing Editor

THIS DATE IN HISTORY: April 6

1980: In his 1,767th and final regular-season game, 52-year-old Gordie Howe of the Hartford Whalers scores his 801st NHL goal, a backhand shot past Detroit Red Wings goaltender Rogie Vachon. The Whalers win 5-3 at the Hartford Civic Center to end their first season in the NHL.

Howe's 15th goal of the season comes 11:25 into the second period, with Ray Allison and Gordie Roberts earning assists. Mr. Hockey also earns his 1,049th and final assist when he sets up Allison's first-period goal.

It's a bit of poetic justice that Howe scores his final NHL goal against Vachon. On Feb. 18, 1967, in his NHL debut with the Montreal Canadiens at the Forum, Vachon stops Howe, then a member of the Red Wings, on a breakaway for his first save.

 

MORE MOMENTS:

1926: Clint Benedict helps the Montreal Maroons win their first Stanley Cup championship with his third shutout of the Final, a 2-0 win against the Western Hockey League's Victoria Cougars. Nels Stewart scores twice and finishes with six goals in four games for the Maroons, who win the best-of-5 series 3-1. The Stanley Cup is awarded for the final time before the NHL takes control of the trophy beginning in the 1926-27 season.

 

1945: Frank McCool of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit's Harry Lumley become the first rookie goalies to face each other in the Stanley Cup Final. The Maple Leafs defeat the Red Wings 1-0 in the first of three straight shutouts for McCool.

 

1969: Johnny Bower (44 years, 4 months, 28 days) becomes the oldest goalie to appear in a postseason game when he plays for Toronto in a 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins.

Video: Johnny Bower led Leafs to four Stanley Cup titles

 

1974: Denis Potvin of the New York Islanders scores a goal and has three assists in the final game of the season to set NHL records for most goals (17), assists (54) and points (71) by a rookie defenseman. The Islanders defeat the Minnesota North Stars 4-2 at Nassau Coliseum.

 

1986: Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers wins the Art Ross Trophy for the sixth consecutive season and sets an NHL record with 215 points, three more than he had in 1981-82. Gretzky gets his 163rd assist, also an NHL record, in Edmonton's season-ending 3-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks at Pacific Coliseum.

 

2002: Toronto's Mats Sundin becomes the leading goal scorer among Swedish-born NHL players with the 395th of his career in a 2-2 tie against the Florida Panthers. Sundin breaks the mark set by Tomas Sandstrom of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, who retired three years earlier.

Video: Mats Sundin only Swede to score 500 goals

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