February 21 in NYR history: Don Maloney’s unbelievable game

NEW YORK - CIRCA 1979: Don Maloney #12 of the New York Rangers skates against the New York Islanders during an NHL Hockey game circa 1979 at Madison Square Garden in the Manhattan borough of New York City. Maloney's playing career went from 1978-91. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - CIRCA 1979: Don Maloney #12 of the New York Rangers skates against the New York Islanders during an NHL Hockey game circa 1979 at Madison Square Garden in the Manhattan borough of New York City. Maloney's playing career went from 1978-91. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

What happened on February 21 in the history of the New York Rangers

On this date in 1981, Don Maloney had one hell of a night, possibly the best night of his career with the Rangers.    He became the first and only Blueshirt to score two shorthanded goals in the same home game.  But wait, it gets better.   Not only did he score two shorthanded goals, he did it on the same penalty kill, courtesy of a holding penalty to his brother, Dave Maloney.   Add to that the fact that Don Maloney had scored a power play goal just two minutes earlier.  It was a natural hat trick, meaning he scored his three goals in succession.

Maloney’s heroics helped the Rangers to a 6-4 win over the Washington Capitals.

Two shorthanded goals in a game was not an unusual occurrence for the Rangers.  In fact, Don Maloney was the seventh New York Ranger to do it, but what made this unusual was that all six times it had done before it was on the road.  Cecil Dillon was the first Ranger to do it in 1935.   Of course, purists will maintain that Phil Watson scored two shorthanded goals in 1941 in the same game at the Garden, but he did it against the New York Americans who shared the Garden ice.  It is in the record  book as a road game.

As for Maloney, he scored two shorties twice more in his career becoming the only New York Ranger to do it more than once.  The last time was in 1987 and that was also the last time a Ranger scored two in a game.  That’s 35 years since a Blueshirt notched two shorthanded goals in a game.  It’s about time.

An historic change

On this date in 1946, Lester Patrick, the only general manager in the history of the New York Rangers, resigned due to health reasons and was replaced by coach Frank Boucher. Known as “The Silver Fox,”  Patick had served as coach and general manager from the time the team was founded until 1939 when he stepped away from coaching to focus on running the team.  At that time he was succeeded also by Boucher.

As coach, Patrick won two Stanley Cups and was the GM when they won their third cup in 1940.  How important was the Patrick family to the NHL?  He and his brother Frank are responsible for a number of innovations including the blue line, the forward pass, the playoff system, numbers on uniforms, the penalty shot and adding assists when goals are scored.  That’s a pretty amazing legacy and Patrick was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1947.

Oh yes, in 1928 in the Stanley Cup Finals, the GM-Coach took over as goalie when Lorne Chabot was injured.  He was 44 years old and remains the oldest player to play in the Finals.  He allowed one goal as the Rangers won in overtime.

A milestone for Bobby Hull

On this date in 1970, Bobby Hull scored two goal in a 4-2 Black Hawks win over the Rangers in Chicago and became the third player in NHL history  to reach the 500 goal milestone.  Hull would end up with 610 goals in his NHL career, good for 18th most in league history.

Hull would be close to the top of the list if he hadn’t left the NHL to sign with the Winnipeg Jets of the WHA.   He  scored 303 goals in that league, a number he wouldn’t have reached in  he NHL, but even if he had scored only half as many goals he would be in the top five in NHL history and probably would have had more than his son, Brett (741).

Today’s birthdays

29 NHL players were born on February 21 including four players who skated in a Rangers uniform.

Larry Melnyk was a defenseman born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on this date in 1960.  He played for the Rangers  for parts of three seasons in the mid 1980s.   Melnyk came to the Rangers from Edmonton in a trade for Mike Rogers.  He was dealt to Vancouver  along with Willie Huber for Michel Petit.

Greg Holst was a center born on this date in 1954 in Montreal, Quebec. His NHL career consisted of 11 games with the Rangers over three years from 1975-1978.  He was named the  AHL Rookie of the Year in 1976 while playing in New Haven. He left North America for Austria where he played 540 games in different Austrian leagues.

Dane Byers was a second round draft pick of the Rangers in 2004.  He was born on this date in 1986 in Nipawin, Saskatchewan.  The left winger spent most of his career in New Haven with the AHL Wolf Pack making it to the NHL for six games with the Rangers and eight games with the Blue Jackets.

Evgeny Grachev was born on this date in 1990 in  Khabarovsk, USSR. He was drafted by the Rangers in the third round of the 2008 draft and he looked like a later round gem when he scored 40 goals for Brampton in the OHL and excelled at the WJC.   Signed to a pro contract, he never lived up to his advance billing and was scoreless in eight games for the Rangers in 2010-11.  The team dealt him to St. Louis for a draft pick (Steven Fogarty) where he played 26 games.  He returned to Russia in 2013 and has played in the KHL ever since.

The numbers

The Rangers have played 39 games on this date and have fared well in regulation, but are at .500 in extra time.

Games: 39
Regulation wins: 14
Regulation losses: 12
Ties: 7
Overtime wins: 3
Overtime losses: 1
Shootout losses: 2
Points percentage: .487

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