Patrik Laine scored five goals for Winnipeg against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday . It was the first time a player scored that many goals in a game since Johan Franzen in 2011 and he did it on only five shots. It’s also a feat that has been accomplished twice by a New York Ranger.
The record for most goals in a game is seven, set by Joe Malone in 1920. Five goals in a game is a feat that was never been accomplished by Jaromir Jagr, Mark Messier, Brett Hull, Marcel Dionne or Gordie Howe. Alex Ovechkin, Sydney Crosby and Steven Stamkos have yet to do it. Let’s look back at the two New York Rangers who were able to achieve this rare accomplishment.
Murder on Ice
The first Ranger to score five goals in a game was sniper Don Murdoch. He did it on October 12, 1976 versus the Minnesota North Stars. He was only the sixth NHL player to accomplish that feat on the road as the Rangers trounced Minnesota 10-4. He scored his fifth goal with only seconds left in the game when Phil Esposito won a faceoff and got the puck to Murdoch who put it home for a powerplay goal.
Don Murdoch was a rookie and he tied Howie Meeker of the 1947 Maple Leafs as the only first year players to accomplish the feat. Murdoch, nicknamed “Murder” by his teammates, went on to set a Ranger rookie goal-scoring record with 32 tallies. It would have been more, but his season was ended after only 59 games when he tore his Achilles tendon.
Murdoch had been drafted sixth overall in 1976. He made the jump right to the NHL and dazzled the league by scoring eight goals in his first four games. The bright lights of New York City were too much for the Cranbrook, British Columbia native. After his second season he was caught by customs agents in Toronto with cocaine in his luggage and the league suspended him for the 1978-79 season. The suspension was later reduced to 40 games.
He returned to score 15 goals and added another seven in 18 playoff games as the Rangers went on a magical run to the Stanley Cup Finals. He never lived up the promise of his rookie season and was traded the next year to Edmonton. Hampered by injuries he only played 99 more games in the NHL. After four more years in the minor leagues he retired at age 30.
Big night for an Olympian
Mark Pavelich was the second and last Ranger to score five goals in a game. He did it at home on February 23, 1983 in an 11-3 romp over the Hartford Whalers. He scored his fifth goal only 11 seconds after he knotted his fourth goal. With just over 11 minutes left in the game, there was hope that he would get six goals and set a new team record, but he was held off the scoresheet. He was the first and remains the only American to score that many goals in a game.
It was a memorable night as all fans had been give red Ranger baseball caps and the hats rained on the ice after his third, fourth and fifth goals. In a coincidence, Pavelich accomplished his feat on the eve of the third anniversary of the the gold medal winning game in Lake Placid.
Pavelich was only 5’7″, but was an elusive and gifted scorer. He was signed as an undrafted free agent after winning a gold medal for the “Miracle on Ice.” Olympic team. In his first season he set a team rookie record for points (76) and assists (43) and he tied Bill Cook’s rookie record of 33 goals. His 76 points have never been matched so he is still the highest scoring rookie in Ranger history. He played five seasons in New York, scoring 133 goals and 318 points in 341 games before quitting the team after a dispute with coach Ted Sator.
Will another Ranger ever score five goals in a game? It is one of the rarer feats in the NHL, only accomplished 61 times by 45 players (Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux did it four times). The last time a Ranger scored as many as four goals in a game was Marian Gaborik in 2011. The Rangers have totaled 13 hat tricks in the last five years. Perhaps it will be Chris Kreider or Mika Zibanejad or Vitali Kravtsov. Whoever it is, it will be a magical night.
Finally, thanks to a promotion by a Canadian supermarket chain, when Laine scored five goals, he won a fan a $1 million prize. It’s been a longtime promotion with a fan winning the jackpot if a Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver or Winnipeg player scores five goals in a game. A Winnipeg native named Christopher Haley is very happy today.