On April 5 in NYR history: Insanity at the Garden

Vic Hadfield (left), Jean Ratelle (center), and Rod Gilbert of the New York Rangers . (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images)
Vic Hadfield (left), Jean Ratelle (center), and Rod Gilbert of the New York Rangers . (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images) /

What happened on April 5 in the history of the New York Rangers

On this date in 1970, the New York Rangers played the craziest game in their history.  They beat the Detroit Red Wings 9-5 to make the playoffs,  eliminating the Montreal Canadiens.   In an effort to score as many goals as possible, the Rangers set a franchise record with 65 shots on goal and even pulled their goalie in the third period with a six goal lead.

The reason was that the Rangers would finish in a tie with Montreal for fourth place if they won and the Canadiens lost.  Not only only that, if they finished in a tie, they had to finish with more goals than the Canadiens to hold the tiebreaker and make the playoffs.

Here is how it stood going into the last day of the season.  If the Rangers won and Montreal lost, they would finished tied with 92 points.  At that point the tiebreaker was the number of goals scored  The Rangers went into their game with Detroit with 237 goals.  Montreal had 242 goals.  The Rangers knew that they had to score at least five goals, but they would then have to rely on the Chicago Black Hawks to shut out the Habs.

So the Blueshirts threw everything they had at the Detroit goal, scoring nine times, thrilling the sold out Madison Square Garden crowd.  They even pulled goalie Ed Giacomin with a 9-3 lead in the third period in an effort to score more goals. That didn’t work as the Red Wings scored twice into the empty net.  Montreal fans complained that the Red Wings sat out some of their best players as they had clinched a playoff spot the day before and had been up into the wee hours celebrating.

It didn’t help the hung over Red Wings that the game was a matinee and on national television. As a result,  Montreal knew that the Rangers had won and had scored nine goals in the process.   The Canadiens took the ice that night in Chicago knowing that they had to win, or lose and score five goals.  When they fell behind 3-1 in the second period, they forgot about trying to win and just tried to score those five goals.

With nine  minutes left the game and trailing 5-2, the Habs pulled goalie Rogie Vachon in an attempt to get the three goals they needed.   It didn’t work as the Black Hawks scored five times for the 10-2 win.

April 5, 1970 goes down as one of the wildest finishes to any NHL season. It was the first time Montreal missed the playoffs in 22 years and until the 2015-16 season, it was the last time there had been no Canadian teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

A scoring mark in that game

In that same game in 1970, with all of the focus on offense, you would have to figure that some records would be set. The had 65 shots, a franchise record, but it was Dave Balon who achieved an individual mark becoming the first Ranger to score shorthanded, at even strength and on the power play in the same game.

A shootout loss give Columbus a playoff berth

On this date in 2019, the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Rangers in a shootout to clinch a playoff spot.  While the Blueshirts were already out of the playoffs, it was a nailbiter for the Blue Jackets.  Pavel Buchnevich scored with seven seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime.  Sergei Bobrovsky stopped all three Rangers in the shootout while Artemi Panarin scored the lone shootout goal on Alexandar Georgiev, giving Columbus the 3-2 win.

Mika Zibanejad talked about the Rangers’ desire to win: “Trying to ruin their season was obviously a big motivation. I have a couple buddies on the other side there. We tried to ruin it. Couldn’t really get it done. Just wish them good luck in the playoffs.”

Artemi Panarin scored the Jackets’ second goal and that was to be the last goal he scored against the Rangers before joining them as a free agent in the offseason. It was his 12th goal in 12 games against the Rangers.

Today’s birthdays

There have been 19 NHL players born on April 5 and only one was a former Ranger.

John Hanna was born on this date in 1935 in Sydney, Nova Scotia. He was a regular on the Rangers’ blue line for three years from 1958 to 1961.  He also played for Montreal and Philadelphia before ending his career in the WHA with the Cleveland Crusaders.

The numbers

The Rangers have a losing record on April 5 in both regular season and playoff matches.

Games: 22
Regulation wins: 7
Regulation losses: 10
Ties: 1
Overtime wins: 2
Shootout losses: 2
Points percentage: .477

Playoffs games: 12
Wins: 5
Losses: 6
Overtime losses: 1
Winning percentage: 42%

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