What happened on January 31 in the history of the New York Rangers
On this date in 1991, Mike Richter put on one of the greatest displays of goaltending of his brilliant career. He made 59 saves on 62 shots, the most ever by a New York Rangers netminder. It happened at the Pacific Coliseum against the Vancouver Canucks and the game ended in the wee hours of the morning, so it was a feat many Ranger fans didn’t stay up to see.
The NHL has tracked saves officially since 1955-56 so it’s possible that a Ranger goalie faced more shots before that, but since that night in 1991, the record belongs to Richter. For his heroics, Richter was able to salvage a point as the game ended in a 3-3 tie.
When Richter set the franchise record, it was the fourth most saves in a game and he faced the eighth most shots in NHL history. The record for shots and saves was shattered later the same season by Ron Tugnutt of the Quebec Nordiques less than two months later when he faced 73 shots, making 70 saves in a tie with the Boston Bruins.
The previous Rangers record holder had been Jacques Plante who made 53 saves on 59 shots in a 6-2 loss to Montreal in 1963.
Most recently, Alexandar Georgiev made 55 saves on 56 shots in a February 2019 game versus Toronto. Winning 4-1, Georgiev holds the record for most saves in single game Rangers win and the most saves by a Ranger goalie at Madison Square Garden as well as the rookie record.
This game was significant for more than just the number of shots and saves. Richter was in a competition for the top goalie position with John Vanbiesbrouck and this game couldn’t have hurt his standing. It also had to affect the Vancouver Canucks who he would face in the Stanley Cup Final just three years later.
Game winning magic from Mika
On this date in 2019, Mika Zibanejad matched a feat accomplished only once in franchise history. He notched his fourth game winning goal in five game, tying the Rangers record set by Rod Gilbert in the 1966-67 season. Zibanejad did it with his second NHL hat trick in a 4-3 win over the Devils in Newark.
Zibanejad’s streak started with a 6-2 win over the Hurricanes on January 15. He scored the game winner in subsequent games against Chicago and Boston. The only game he failed to win for the Rangers was a 1-0 loss to the Flyers.
A power play display
On this date in 1994 Mike Gartner scored three power play goals in one game, a 5-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden. He was the second Ranger to accomplish that feat, joining Mark Messier who had done it in March 1992.
Little did Gartner know that he would be an ex-Ranger in just a few weeks as he was traded to Toronto for Glenn Anderson. For Gartner that gave him 24 goals. He would score only four more before the trade.
A really bad month
On January 31, 1943 the Rangers lost to the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden. It meant that they would go the entire month of January without a win, losing all 13 games they played. The final score was 7-2 and came just three days after a 10-1 loss to the Black Hawks, their worst loss of the month. Hockey trivia, the Blackhawks were known as the Black Hawks until 1986.
Don Maloney, the first Ranger All-Star MVP
The 36th NHL All-Star Game was played on this date in 1984 at the Brendan Byrne Arena in New Jersey. The Wales Conference All-Stars were represented by Pierre Larouche and Don Maloney from the Blueshirts.
The Wales All-Stars beat the Campbell All-Stars 7-6 and Don Maloney was named MVP, scoring the game winning goal in the third period and adding three assists to lead all players with four points. With the honor, Maloney became the first of five New York Rangers selected as the All-Star game MVP. Following him were Mike Gartner (1993), Mike Richter (1994), Wayne Gretzky (1999) and Marian Gaborik (2012).
24 NHL players have been born on January 31. Five former Rangers are in that group including one of the great franchise goal scorers.
On this date in 1933, Camille Henry was born in Quebec City, Quebec. Nicknamed “The Eel” because he was so elusive in avoiding checks, he played 12 year in New York, winning the Calder Trophy in 1954 and named to the Second All-Star team in 1958 while winning the Lady Byng Trophy. The center ranks sixth all-time in franchise career goals with 256 and he scored 116 power play goals, most of any Ranger. His franchise shooting percentage of 21.2% is second only to Ulf Nilsson’s 22.2%. His six career hat tricks is third on the Rangers’ list.
In 1963 he scored, along with Dave Balon and Gilles Tremblay of Montreal in just 18 seconds, setting an NHL record that stood for 20 years. In 1959 he was the only player to score on Jacques Plante in the game on November 1 when the goalie wore a mask for the first time in an NHL game.
Goalie Eddie Mio was born on this date in 1954 in Windsor, Ontario. He played two seasons in New York, coming from the Edmonton Oilers. He was part of the worst transaction in NHL history, when Indianapolis Racers owner Nelson Skalbania sold Wayne Gretzky, Mio and winger Peter Driscoll to Edmonton for $700k. He is best known as one of Gretzky’s best friends and was the best man at Gretzky’s wedding.
Jeff Bloemberg was a defenseman,born on this date in 1968 in Listowel, Ontario. He played parts of four season with the Rangers after being drafted by New York in the 1986 Entry Draft. The 43 games he played for New York were his only NHL games.
Conor Allen was born on January 31, 1990 in Chicago, Illinois. He played seven games over two seasons with the Rangers after signing as a free agent in 2013. The defenseman is currently playing in the Czech league.
Rene Trudell was a right winger, born in 1919 in Mariapolis, Manitoba. He played 129 games for the Rangers between 1945 and 1948, the only games he played in the NHL, scoring 24 goals and 58 points.
The Rangers have played 43 times on January 31 and have an even record on the date with a .500 points percentage.
Regulation wins: 18
Regulation losses: 17
Overtime wins: 1
Shootout losses: 1
Points percentage: .500