Feb. 23 has been an extremely busy day throughout National Hockey League history. There was a little bit of everything with some major come-from-behind performances, team record being set, and plenty of personal milestones getting hit. The THW time machine is fired up so let’s hop in and relive the best moments this date has had to offer.
A Pair of Epic Comebacks
Things did not start well for the Boston Bruins on Feb. 23, 1972, as they fell behind 6-1 to the Oakland Seals, less than nine minutes into the second period. That is until legendary defenseman Bobby Orr decided to take over the game. He set up goals for Wayne Cashman and Fred Stanfield to cut the lead down to 6-3 before the second intermission. During the third period, he drove the offense with a goal and two more assists, and the Bruins scored five goals for the 8-6 victory. Stanfield finished with three goals for his first of three regular-season hat tricks and only one with the Bruins.
On this date in 1989, the Detroit Red Wings fell behind 6-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second period. It was another Hall of Famer who sparked a huge comeback. Steve Yzerman scored a pair of goals and assisted on two others as the Wings stormed back to earn a point with a 6-6 tie. These were Yzerman’s 56th and 57th goals of the season, breaking the franchise record of 55 for the most in one season, set by John Ogrodnick during the 1984-85 season.
New Franchise Records
The great Gordie Howe extended his team-record goal-scoring streak to eight games on Feb. 23, 1952, in the Red Wings’ 3-1 win at the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Don Edwards set a Buffalo Sabres team record for rookie goaltenders with his fifth shutout of the season on Feb. 23, 1978, by beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0.
On that same night, the Montreal Canadiens extended their team-record undefeated streak to 28 games (23-0-5) with a 5-1 win over the visiting Cleveland Barons. Steve Shutt scored four goals while Guy Lafleur picked up four assists.
Mark Pavelich tied a New York Rangers’s club record on Feb. 23, 1983, by scoring five goals in an 11-3 blowout of the Hartford Whalers. He became the first NHL player born in the United States to have a five-goal game with this performance.
The Flyers set a new franchise record on Feb. 23, 1988, by scoring seven goals during the third period of an 11-6 win at Detroit. Mark Howe led the offense with two goals and an assist, while Brian Propp and Scott Mellanby had three helpers on the night.
Defenseman Al MacInnis played in his 706th career contest with the Calgary Flames on Feb. 23, 1993, to become the team’s all-time leader in games played. He celebrated his milestone by picking up three assists in a 6-3 win at the San Jose Sharks.
A decade later, on Feb. 23, 2003, Markus Naslund became the first Vancouver Canucks player to score 40 goals in three straight seasons. Also, Dan Cloutier became the first goaltender in team history to earn 30 victories in back-to-back seasons in a 7-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
A Memorable Night in 1991
Feb. 23, 1991, was one heck of a night across the NHL. Starting in Hartford, where Pat Verbeek scored his 250th career goal and added an assist during the Whalers’ 5-4 loss to the Sabres.
Brett Hull extended his team-record 13-game goal streak in the St. Louis Blues’ 9-2 beating of the visiting Bruins. He scored his ninth career hat trick and added an assist to reach 100 points for the second straight season.
Michel Goulet became the 30th player in NHL history to score 1,000 career points by scoring all three Chicago Blackhawks’ goals in a 3-3 tie with the Minnesota North Stars. This was the 14th hat trick of his Hall of Fame career and first with the Blackhawks.
Finally, the Flames extended their home unbeaten streak 11 games (10-0-1) and tied a team record with 59 shots on goal by beating the Quebec Nordiques 10-8 in a crazy game. Theo Fleury had the first five-point game of his career with three goals, including his first penalty-shot goal and a pair of assists. MacInnis had four assists in the victory. On the losing side, Nordiques rookie Mats Sundin scored the second hat trick of his career.
Double Dips for Patrick Roy & Joe Nieuwendyk
A pair of Hall of Famers in Roy and Nieuwendyk each had plenty to remember on this date. These two had a bit of a postseason rivalry during their careers. Nieuwendyk and the Flames beat Roy and the Canadiens in the 1989 Stanley Cup Final. He also got the best of the legendary goaltender in the 1999 and 2000 playoffs, when they were on the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche, respectively.
Roy made his NHL debut on Feb. 23, 1985, when he started the third period of a 4-4 game against the Winnipeg Jets, in relief of Doug Soetaert. He only had to make two saves to pick up his first career victory as the Canadiens scored twice to win 6-4. Chris Nilan was the offensive hero with two goals and an assist. This was Roy’s lone NHL appearance of the 1984-85 season. He took over as the full-time starter the following season.
A dozen years later, on Feb. 23, 1997, Roy became the fourth goaltender in league history to record seven 30-win seasons in his career. His 30th victory of 1996-97 came by leading the Avalanche to a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators.
On Feb. 23, 1999, Nieuwendyk picked up an assist for his 800th career point as the Stars picked up a 4-3 road win at the Nashville Predators. Mike Modano had a hat trick to become the third player in franchise history to score 300 goals with the team.
Nieuwendyk, on Feb. 23, 2003, now with the New Jersey Devils, became the 65th NHL player to score 1,000 career points. He reached this milestone with a third-period goal in 4-3 at the Penguins.
Odds & Ends
The Bruins set an NHL record by extending their unbeaten streak to 23 games (15-0-8) on Feb. 23, 1941, with a 3-1 win over the New York Americans. Rookie goaltender Chuck Rayner made an NHL-record 60 saves for the Americans, including 27 in the third period.
Elmer Lach became the NHL’s all-time leading scorer on this date in 1952, in the Canadiens’ 7-0 at the Blackhawks. His goal and three assists gave him 550 points, putting him ahead of Bill Cowley.
Another Canadiens legend, Jean Beliveau, registered his 700th career NHL point on Feb. 23, 1963, with a goal in a 6-3 home win against the Rangers.
Glenn Hall became the third goaltender in league history to have five 30-win seasons on Feb. 23, 1964, when he and the Blackhawks beat the Bruins 2-0. He also had an assist on one of the Chicago goals for good measure.
Related – The Best of ‘Mr. Goalie’ Glenn Hall
Dale Hawerchuk hit the 100-point mark for the fifth straight season on Feb. 23, 1988, when he picked up a goal in the Jets’ 4-3 win at the Penguins. This was the sixth and final 100-point season of Hawerchuk’s Hall of Fame career.
On Feb 23, 1996, both Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr scored their 50th goals of the season to lead the Penguins to a 5-4 win over the visiting Whalers. This marked the first team two teammates both scored their 50th goals in the same game since Lemieux did it with Kevin Stevens back on March 21, 1993.
Yzerman had another big night on Feb. 23, 2001, when he became the sixth player ever to rack up 1,600 career points. His goal helped the Red Wings beat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 in head coach Scotty Bowman’s 600th game behind the bench in Detroit.
Jeremy Roenick became the third U.S.-born player to score 400 NHL goals on that same evening. He hit this milestone with a hat trick during the Phoenix Coyotes’ 7-3 win at the Sabres.
Ron Francis scored a goal on Feb. 23, 2004, to help the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Maple Leafs 2-1. This was the 545th goal of his career, putting him ahead of Montreal legend Maurice Richard on the all-time goals list. He was traded to Toronto two weeks later, where he played the final 12 games of his 23-season career.
Roberto Luongo led the Florida Panthers to a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings, on Feb. 23, 2019, for his 484th career win, tying Ed Belfour for the third-most in NHL history.
Happy Birthday to You
Just 17 current and former NHL players were born on this date. The most notable of this group are John Druce (56), Jeff O’Neill (46), Marco Scandella (32), Kevin Connauton (32), Stefan Matteau (28), Nick Schmaltz (26), and the late Jimmy Thompson.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.