THIS DATE IN NHL HISTORY, APRIL 16:
1949: The Toronto Maple Leafs become the NHL’s first modern-era dynasty.
Toronto wins the Stanley Cup for the third straight year, completing a four-game sweep of the Detroit Red Wings in the Final with a 3-1 victory at Maple Leaf Gardens. Turk Broda allows five goals in four games against the NHL’s top-scoring team during the regular season. The win is Toronto’s ninth straight in the Final.
Toronto becomes the second team in NHL history to win the Cup after finishing with a losing record (22-25-13), joining the 1938 Chicago Blackhawks (14-25-9). No sub-.500 team has won the Cup since.
1954: Tony Leswick’s goal at 4:29 of overtime gives the Red Wings a 2-1 victory against the visiting Canadiens at Olympia Stadium in Game 7 of the Final. Leswick’s is one of the strangest Cup-winning goals in playoff history. His seemingly harmless shot hits the glove of Montreal defenseman Doug Harvey and goes past goaltender Gerry McNeil into the net, giving Detroit its second championship in three seasons. It is the second time in five seasons the Cup has been won on an overtime goal in Game 7, something that hasn’t happened since.
1961: The Chicago Blackhawks end a 23-year championship drought by defeating the Red Wings 5-1 in Detroit in Game 6 of the Final. After eliminating the five-time defending champion Canadiens in the Semifinals, the Blackhawks split the first four games against Detroit, but win 6-3 in Game 5 at Chicago Stadium before becoming the only road team to win a game in the series. The only drawback for the victorious Blackhawks is that they can’t get back to Chicago to celebrate; their flight home is cancelled because of a snowstorm.
1988: Dale Hunter’s goal 5:57 into overtime completes one of the greatest comebacks in Stanley Cup history and gives the Washington Capitals a 5-4 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 7 of the Patrick Division Semifinals at the Capital Centre. The Capitals lose three of the first four games in the series, win Games 5 and 6 and then rally to overcome an early 3-0 deficit in Game 7. Then-Capitals general manager David Poile calls it “the most important win ever for this team.”
1991: Esa Tikkanen won’t let the Edmonton Oilers’ dynasty come to an end just yet. Tikkanen completes a hat trick by scoring at 6:58 of overtime to give Edmonton a 5-4 victory against the Calgary Flames in Game 7 of the Smythe Division Semifinals. The Oilers trail 3-0, rally for a 4-3 lead, then see their archrival tie the game late in the third period on a goal by Ron Stern. However, Tikkanen scores again to become the second player in NHL history to have a hat trick, including an overtime goal, in a series-deciding victory. However, the defending Stanley Cup champs lose to the Los Angeles Kings in the second round, ending their run of five championships in seven seasons.
2003: Ed Belfour’s goaltending heroics go for naught when Mark Recchi scores his second goal of the game at 53:54 of overtime to give the Flyers a 3-2 win against Toronto at Air Canada Centre in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Belfour makes 72 saves before Recchi’s wrist shot hits his stick and trickles over the goal line. Belfour finishes one save short of the playoff record set by Kelly Hrudey of the New York Islanders in 1987.
2014: Brandon Sutter scores the tiebreaking goal at 8:18 of the third period to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-3 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Consol Energy Center. He scores on a 2-on-1 break and becomes the seventh member of the Sutter family to score a game-winning goal in the playoffs.