On January 21 almost 60 years apart, two teams set NHL records for fastest goals by one team. In 1945, the Boston Bruins scored four goals in just 1:20 during the second period of a game against the visiting New York Rangers. In 2004, the Minnesota Wild scored two goals in only three seconds during the third period of a game against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks. In both cases, the home team won, 14-3 and 4-2, respectively.
The Bruins had more than one significant moment in that 1945 game against the New York Rangers. The 14 goals they scored beat their previous team record, set when the Bruins defeated the Rangers 13-3 on January 2, 1944. However, the Bruins remained one goal shy of the NHL record, set when the Detroit Red Wings crushed the poor Rangers 15-0 on January 23, 1944. Obviously, the Rangers were struggling in back-to-back seasons.
About 11,000 fans came to Boston Garden to see the Bruins play their rivals for fourth place. The Rangers held them off for 11 minutes before the barrage began. After two Bruins goals, the Rangers squeezed in their first. Then Bill Cowley scored back-to-back goals in 24 seconds followed by another Bruins goal within 51 seconds. At 6:34 into the second period, Bill Thoms scored his first tally for Boston. Then Frank Mario scored back-to-back goals in 19 seconds followed by Ken Smith’s within 46 seconds. The four goals had only taken one minute and 20 seconds. The Bruins finished the period with one more tally. For the third period, the Rangers started things off, and after another Bruins score, managed to get a final goal in between Cowley’s two additional goals. Smith finished out the scoring for the night. Cowley had the most with four goals, while Smith had three and an assist. Even with all the scoring, Rangers goalie Ken McAuley still made 46 saves. That was more than three times the 15 saves of Bruins goalie Phil Bibeault.
A major reason for the Bruins’ scoring extravaganza was the Rangers dismal luck leading up to the Sunday night game. That Thursday, they arrived in Detroit three hours late, so they did not finish their game against the Red Wings until almost 1 am. That caused them to miss another train and connections in Toronto on Friday. They arrived in Montreal several hours late, and during the Saturday night game, Grant Warwick was sent to the hospital. The Rangers finally arrived in Boston an hour and forty minutes before the game, only to discover that their skates, sticks, and uniforms were in a baggage car removed from the train and left back at Concord, N.H. While waiting for their equipment, the Rangers (including Coach Frank Boucher) napped on benches in the locker room. Their equipment finally arrived about 8 pm, so the Rangers missed the national anthem as they dressed and delayed the game 10 minutes. The Boston Globe was absolutely correct in describing the Rangers as “leg-weary, injury-riddled, travel-worn.” The New York Daily News joked that after that game, “the Rangers should have been placed on the wrong train – one which never came near the Hub.”
Exactly 59 years later, in 2004, the four-seasons-old Minnesota Wild set a record while defeating the struggling Original Six Chicago Blackhawks. The Xcel Energy Center had a crowd of 18,568 as witness to the event.
Wild Coach Jacques Lemaire had not been happy with his team at practice, and all he said after the game was, “We looked better tonight than we did this morning.” Center Jim Dowd explained, “You know when the coach is not happy. We just came in and said, ‘Let’s try to be focused and ready to go. We just have to keep working on it.’ That’s the bottom line. . . . Work hard together as a group and see what happens.”
Minnesota definitely put in the effort for their coach and led 2-0 until late in the first period. However, they gave Chicago some lucky breaks leading to goals at 18:57 of the first and 8:47 of the second. The Blackhawks had tied when the puck “went off the skate of the Wild’s Andrew Brunette during a scramble in front of the net.” Everyone thought the game was going into overtime. Then, at 19:44 with only 15.5 seconds remaining, “Dowd gained control of the puck in the Blackhawks zone and attempted a shot that he got back. He then blasted the puck past goalie Craig Anderson, who lost his stick on the play.” Although Dowd counted himself as having “three shots at it,” he credited his goal as “the result of good pressure by the whole line.” To try to make up the score, Chicago pulled its goalie. However, Minnesota’s Richard Park shot “off the face-off at center ice” right into the empty net at 19:47. It had only been three seconds from Dowd’s goal to Park’s second of the night. Prior to that, five teams had scored two goals in four seconds.
After all these years, the Bruins still hold the record for the fastest four goals scored by one team. The Wild’s record was beaten on November 1, 2018, when the Montreal Canadiens scored twice in only two seconds.
- Roger Birtwell, “B’s Rout Rangers, 14-3,” Boston Globe, 22 Jan. 1945, sports, p. 4.
- Harold Kaese, “‘Stalingrad’ Stand by Bruins Makes Playoff Berth Seem Certain,” Boston Globe, 22 Jan. 1945, sports, p. 6.
- “Bruins Whip Rangers, 13-3; Cowley Gets 4,” New York Daily News, 22 Jan. 1945, p. 30.
- Judd Zulgad, “A Happy Ending,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, 22 Jan. 2004, p. C1 and C11.
- “Road killed,” Chicago Tribune, 22 Jan. 2004, p. 33-15.