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This Date in NHL History

April 6: Howe scores in final NHL game

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

by John Kreiser @JKreiser7713 / Managing Editor


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.

Video: Gordie Howe, 'Mr. Hockey,' enjoyed five-decade career



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.


1988: Potvin breaks Henri Richard's NHL record for career playoff games played when he steps onto the ice against the New Jersey Devils at Nassau Coliseum for Game 1 of the Patrick Division Semifinals. It's the 181st postseason game of his NHL career. Pat LaFontaine scores at 6:11 of overtime to give the Islanders a 4-3 win against the Devils, who are making their first playoff appearance since 1978, when the franchise is based in Denver and known as the Colorado Rockies.


2002: Toronto's Mats Sundin becomes the leading goal scorer among Sweden-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

On the same night, the Colorado Avalanche become the first team to win a division title in nine consecutive seasons when they defeat the St. Louis Blues 5-2 at Pepsi Center. Milan Hedjuk scores his 50th goal of the season and becomes the first member of the Avalanche to lead the NHL in goals.

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