Today in Hockey History: May 11

May 11 has proven to be a big date in the history of the National Hockey League. Some it’s legendary players and coaches had big moments, some for the final time. Franchises with long histories of success have made plenty of memories on this date.

The Last Runs for Two Legends

The Montreal Canadiens are the most successful team in hockey history and they were able to achieve so much greatness by having so many legends on the ice and behind the bench. Two such legends had their final taste of championship glory on this date.

On May 11, 1968, head coach Toe Blake wins the Stanley Cup in his final game in Montreal. The Canadiens beat the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final to win their 15th championship in franchise history. Blake spent 13 seasons behind the Canadiens bench and won eight Stanley Cups.

Montreal Canadiens
Blake signs his first contract, with David Molson and Sam Pollock (Courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Molson)

Three years later, legendary captain, Jean Beliveau scores his final playoff goal. His 79th postseason tally game in the Canadiens 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, in Game 4 of the 1971 Stanley Cup Final. Montreal went on to win the series in seven games. Beliveau’s 79 playoff goals remain the second-most in franchise history behind the 82 scored by fellow Hall of Famer, Maurice Richard.

Another Big Day for Bobby and the Bruins

Hall of Fame defenseman Bobby Orr had a knack for scoring huge goals. He had his memorable flying goal that ended the 1970 Stanley Cup Final and on May 11, 1972, he scored another championship series-clinching goal.

Orr’s power-play goal in the first period, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, was all the Bruins needed in a 3-0 win over the New York Rangers. For good measure, he assisted on both of Wayne Cashman’s third-period goals. Orr became just the fourth player in league history to score two Stanley Cup-winning goals in his career.

Six years later, the Bruins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 6-3 to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Peter McNab had a goal and four assists in the fifth and final game of the Semifinals series. The Bruins move to face the Canadiens in the Final for the second straight season. Unfortunately, Montreal went on to beat them in six games.

Potvin Comes Through

New York Islanders Hall of Famer, Denis Potvin, is one of the greatest two-way defensemen to ever play the game. His contributions to their early franchise success and Stanley Cup dynasty was vital.

On May 11, 1975, Potvin and Gerry Hart scored in the Islanders a 2-1 win over the Flyers, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. Glenn Resch made 28 saves to send the series back to Philadelphia, where the Flyers won to move on to their second straight Stanley Cup Final.

Denis Potvin
Potvin was key to the Islanders’ dynasty. (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)

Potvin had three assists on May 11, 1982, assists to lead the Islanders to a 6-4 win over the Vancouver Canucks, in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Islanders went on to win their third straight Stanley Cup in a four-game sweep of the Canucks.

Penguins Rule the Day

The Pittsburgh Penguins picked up three big Stanley Cup playoff wins on this date. On May 11, 1992, Jaromir Jagr scored twice, including the first-ever Penguins postseason penalty shot goal, in a 3-2 win over the Rangers, in Game 5 of the Patrick Division Final.

Current Penguins’ head coach Mike Sullivan had a big night on May 11, 1995, while playing for the Calgary Flames. He scored a hat trick and added an assist in the Flames’ 9-2 beating of the San Jose Sharks, in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Theoren Fleury picked up four assists on the night, as well.

The following year, Jagr was up to his old tricks again in a 7-3 victory over the Rangers, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. He and Mario Lemieux each scored a hat trick in the series-clinching victory. Lemieux, who also had an assist, scored a goal in each period, while Jagr’s hat trick came with three second-period tallies.

Jaromir Jagr Pittsburgh Penguins
Jagr killed one of his future teams, twice, on this date. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)

On May 11, 2013, Brooks Orpik scored in overtime to end the Islanders’ season with a 4-3 victory, in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The goal was Orpik’s first postseason goal and it ended a goalless streak of 106 combined regular-season and playoff games. He had gone 77 playoff games without a goal, the third-most in NHL history.

Odds & Ends

On May 11, 1977, the Winnipeg Jets beat the Quebec Nordiques 2-1 to open the 1977 Avco Cup Final, the World Hockey Association’s championship series. The Jets would go on to sweep the series to win their first of back-to-back Avco Cup championships, the final two in league history.

The Flyers fired head coach Mike Keenan on May 11, 1988. He accumulated a four-year record of 190-102-28 with the Flyers, leading them to the Stanley Cup Final in 1985 and again in 1987. He missed the playoffs in his other two seasons in Philadelphia. He was replaced by Paul Holmgren.

The Edmonton Oilers advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the fifth time in six seasons on May 11, 1988. Mark Messier leads the way by scoring a goal and adding on three assists in the 8-4 victory over the Detroit Red Wings, in Game 5 of the Campbell Conference Final.

Mark Messier of the Edmonton Oilers
Messier and the Oilers spent a lot of time in the Stanley Cup Final. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Gary Shuchuk only scored two playoff goals in his NHL career and one of them came on May 11, 1993. He scored six and a half minutes into the second overtime to give the Los Angeles Kings a 4-3 win over the Canucks, in Game 5 of the Smythe Division Final. At the time, this was the longest game in Kings’ franchise history.

On May 11, 1997, Eric Lindros scored twice within 41 seconds – including one goal on a penalty shot – and picked up an assist as the Flyers beat the Buffalo Sabres 6-3, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The win eliminated the Sabres from the playoffs.

Eric Lindros
Lindros helped the Flyers advance on this date in 1997. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Brendan Shanahan scored twice and added 2 assists, on May 11, 2002, as the Red Wings eliminated the Blues with a 4-0 victory, in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The four-point performance gave Shanahan 100 career postseason points. Dominik Hasek earned the ninth playoff shutout of his career.

Happy Birthday to You

May 11 is a busy day for hockey birthdays. There are 33 current and former players who were born on this date. The most notable of the lot include Ulf Nilsson (70), Colin Patterson (60), Mike Rathje (44), Brad Marchand (32), Bryan Rust (28), Jimmy Schuldt (25) and Adin Hill (24).

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