What happened on February 23 in the history of the New York Rangers
On this date in 1983, Mark Pavelich scored five goals in an 11-3 win over the Hartford Whalers at Madison Square Garden. He was the first and remains the only U.S. born NHL player to score five goals in a game and was only the second New York Ranger to accomplish that feat. Don Murdoch had scored five goals in a game in 1976.
While Pavelich’s greatest hockey memory will be the 1980 Olympics gold medal, there is no doubt that this was his finest night as a professional.
In those days hockey teams were willing co-promoters with cigarette companies and that night the team had distributed red Winston caps to all fans. You can imagine what happened when Pavelich scored his third, fourth and fifth goals. It’s safe to say that no fans left the arena still in possession of their giveaway caps.
The five goals were two off the NHL record established by Joe Malone of Quebec in 1920 and before Pavelich, 38 NHL players had scored as many as five goals in a game. Murdoch had scored his five goals on the road so this was the first time a Ranger had accomplished it at the Garden.
It was a big night for the Rangers and they set a franchise record by scoring 20 goals in two straight games after beating the Winnipeg Jet 9-4 three days earlier. The 11 goals were the 13th time the Rangers had scored in double digits.
Records for the kids
There were two records set by rookies on this date. In 1937, Eddie Wares became the first Rangers rookie to score two goals in his NHL debut. He played only two games that season so he finished with a goal-a-game average. His reward was a trade to Detroit where he played six more seasons.
Derek Stepan is the current record holder, scoring a hat trick in his NHL debut in Buffalo in 2010.
In 1950, Jackie McLeod became the youngest Ranger to get three points in a game at the age of 19 years, 299 days. He broke the record set in 1941 by Grant Warwick by 81 days. The feat came in a 7-3 win over the Black Hawks in Chicago.
Mike Allison broke McLeod’s record in October, 1980. Allison was 19 years, 197 days old.
A big win
In 1969, the Rangers beat the Boston Bruins 9-0 at Madison Square Garden. It tied their mark for the best goal differential in team history. They had won by nine goals three times in club history, the first time in 1940 against Montreal.
Walt Tkaczuk and Rod Gilbert each scored twice and Dave Balon had three assists in the win.
Most multipoint games
On this date in 1972, Jean Ratelle scored a goal and added two assists for his 35th multipoint game of the season, setting a Rangers record. It’s a record that still stands and what makes it even more remarkable, he did it only 63 games.
The record for most multipoint games in a season is 39, set by Peter Stastny in 1983 and equaled by Brett Hull in 1991. Ratelle was on a pace to reach 44 multipoint games that remarkable season, only to see it cut short by a broken ankle.
On this date in 2009, the Rangers fired coach Ton Renney and hired John Tortorella. It was the second time Tortorella was behind the bench for the Rangers as he had served an interim coach for four games in 2000.
Tortorella had won a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, but had been let go after the 2007-08 season. He was serving as a television hockey analyst when the Ranger came calling. Renney had coached almost four full seasons and had a record of 31-23-7 and had not missed the playoffs any year when he was let go. Tortorella was a colorful figure behind the bench and took the team to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012 before he was replaced by Alain Vigneault for the 2013-14 season.
The headline on this date in 2020 was a car accident in Brooklyn involving Igor Shesterkin and Pavel Buchnevich. Shesterkin was driving and they were injured when a car made a sudden U-turn in front of them. Shesterkin suffered fractured ribs and Buchnevich was shaken up.
The timing couldn’t have been worse considering it happened the day before the trade deadline with the Rangers getting tantalizing close to a playoff berth. The team still had the chance to trade Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast and losing their top goalie for a couple weeks was a devastating blow.
Mike Richter, playmaker
Speaking of Igor Shesterkin, this is a record he may match, considering his stickhandling skills. On this date in 1990, Mike Richter became the 3rd Ranger goalie and 24th NHL goalie to register two assists in a game. He got the helpers in a 6-3 Rangers road win in Washington. He accomplished the feat one more time in his career, the only Ranger netminder to do it more than once.
Only 17 NHL players have been born on February 23 and only one wore the New York Rangers uniform, but he had an unusual story.
Andre Deveaux was born on this date in 1984 in Freeport, Bahamas. He is the only player to make it to the NHL to be born in the Bahamas though he was raised in Canada. He played 22 games in Toronto before being signed by the Rangers as a free agent in 2011. He played nine games with the Blueshirts, spending most of his time with the Connecticut Whale.
Deveaux is best known while with the Rangers for being suspended three games by the NHL after he delivered a hit to the head of Florida Panthers forward Tomas Fleischmann. After the suspension, he was sent down to the AHL, never to return.
He made headlines in 2015 while playing in the Sweden for attacking a player during warmups in retaliation for a hit that concussed him. His contract was terminated and Swedish authorities issued an arrest warrant though he had returned to Canada by that time.
The Rangers have played 41 games on this date and with three wins in extra time, they are over .500.
Regulation wins: 18
Regulation losses: 19
Overtime wins: 2
Shootout wins: 1
Points percentage: .524