Greatest NHL Scoring Performances
The NHL of the 1980s was a much more wide-open, offensively-minded league than it is today, but even so the 1983-84 Oilers were a special bunch. Powered by Wayne Gretzky (205 points), Paul Coffey (126), Jari Kurri (113) and Mark Messier (101), the eventual Stanley Cup winners (the dynasty's first) finished with a record haul of 446 goals in 80 games, an average of 5.58 per game. As the league tries to boost scoring by shrinking goalie equipment and altering nets, here's a look at some of the most awesome offensive performances in NHL history.
Sure, everybody knows the Great One owns the NHL record book -- he holds or shares 61 marks as the league's career leader in goals (894), assists (1963) and points (2,857). Among his stunning landmarks: 92 goals in 1981-82 when Mike Bossy ranked second with 64; 100 goals (including playoffs) in 1983-84; and 215 points in 1985-86 when Mario Lemieux was No. 2 with 141. But not many people are aware that Gretzky was dominant even when his team was down a man: he also holds the all-time record for shorthanded goals, racking up 73 career tallies with the man-disadvantage.
One of the most dominating forwards of all time, Super Mario ended Gretzky's streak of seven consecutive scoring titles in 1988 and the two greats were rivals for the Art Ross Trophy well into the '90s. But Lemieux's most enduring feat is an odd one. On Dec. 31, 1988, he scored five goals five different ways: at even strength, shorthanded, on the power play, on a penalty shot and into an empty net as the Penguins topped the Devils, 8-6.
The Rocket (t<italics>op, cente</italics>r) was the game's first true pure goal scorer, and his 50 goals in 50 games for the Canadiens during the 1944-45 season set the gold standard for offensive efficiency in the NHL. Only seven other players have matched the feat since, and Richard would go on to have the trophy for the league's top goal scorer each season named after him.
From 1977 to 1986, the Islanders' sniper, considered by many to be the best pure goal scorer in NHL history, completed the remarkable feat of netting 50 in each of nine consecutive seasons. His streak brought him two Rocket Richard trophies -- 69 goals in 1978-79; 69 in 1980-81 -- and ended in his final season, when he scored "only" 38 in 63 games while limited by a chronic back injury.
It seems like he has been in the league forever, but even the Finnish Flash was a rookie once. And what a rookie he was: Selanne tallied an eye-popping 132 points -- 76 goals, 56 assists -- as a 22-year-old for the Winnipeg Jets during his first season in the NHL in 1992-93. The next highest totals by a rookie? Mike Bossy's 53 goals for the Islanders in 1977-78, and Peter Stastny's 109 points for the Quebece Nordiques in 1980-81.
Defensemen are now regularly expected to contribute to their team's offensive attack, but in Orr's day that wasn't the case. Orr revolutionized the position during his 12-year career, during which he won two scoring titles. His 120 points (33 goals, 87 assists) in 1969-70 and 135 (46 and 89) during the 1974-75 season remain the only scoring crowns ever won by a blueliner.
The 1985-86 season was a great one for the Oilers blueliner. He totaled 138 points and won the Norris Trophy as the league's best defenseman. Coffey's biggest achievement that season, though, was the 28 straight games in which he registered a point, the longest such streak ever recorded by a D-man.
Malone's single-game goal record has stood for 93 years and may very well never be broken. On Jan. 31, 1920, the Hall of Fame forward (<italics>center, behind the Cup</italics>), the best goal-scorer of his era, potted seven for Quebec against the Toronto St. Patricks, helping the Bulldogs to a 10-6 home win. Malone nearly scored an eighth marker, but it was waved off. His feat didn't get much mention in the press, though. The NHL was only in its third season and the Bulldogs were 1-10 at the time, fellow also-ran Toronto 5-6. Plus, Malone had previous seven-, eight- and nine-goal games in other pro leagues.
The definitive single-game performance in NHL history belongs to this Hall of Famer. While playing for the Maple Leafs in 1976, Sittler recorded six goals and four assists against the Bruins for an even 10 points. Nobody else has reached nine points in a contest, and only 10 players have gotten to eight.
Mike Bossy's linemate and fellow Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier racked up a record six points -- a hat trick and three assists -- in one period on Dec. 23, 1878 vs. the rival New York Rangers. A total of 14 players have produced five-point periods.
The fastest stick in the West belonged to Chicago's Bill Mosienko. On March 23, 1952, the Blackhawks winger found the back of the net three times in a blinding 21 seconds against the Rangers. The spree came in the third period of Chicago's 7-6 win, and all the goals were scored at even strength.
The Habs of the mid 1950s were so potent that their power play inspired a rule change. On Nov. 5, 1955, Jean Beliveau scored three goals in 44 seconds with the man advantage against the Bruins, leading the NHL to decree that a penalized player could now return to the ice once the team on a power play had scored. The ruling became known as "The Canadiens Rule." Another edition of the Habs set the NHL mark for single-game scoring by one team when they hit the back of the net 16 times in routing the hapless Quebec Bulldogs on March 3, 1920.
In terms of a single period, the Sabres are the most prolific team in NHL history. In 1981, host Buffalo scored nine times during the second stanza of a 14-4 demolition of the Maple Leafs. Toronto also tallied three times during what must have been an entertaining period for the fans. It was the kind of tallying that's usually reserved for the league's All-Star Game.
Although known more for his aggressive play and diminutive size, Fleury was a talented scorer and he owns an NHL record to show for it. During his third year in the league, the 5'-6" winger potted three -- and this is fitting, given his stature -- shorthanded goals in one game for the Flames against the Blues on March 9, 1991, a hat trick of the most difficult order.
Goalies rarely rack up points, so it's all the more fun when they do. Philadelphia's Ron Hextall was the first to actually shoot and score a goal, and he finished his career with two, but Calgary's Jeff Reese set the NHL standard for single-game scoring by a netminder while picking up three points, all assists, in the Flames' 13-1 romp over the Sharks on February 10th, 1993. "Nobody really knew it was a record until the next day," Reese later told <italics>The Hockey News</italics>. "I figured that maybe Grant Fuhr or Ron Hextall or Billy Smith had done it, but they hadn't. It's a nice record, but I think somebody will tie it some day." (Tom Barasso holds the mark for most career points by a netminder with 48.)