Tuesday, April 25, 2017

1988-89 Pittsburgh Penguins Mario Lemieux Jersey

The Pittsburgh Penguins completed the 1988-89 season in second place in the Norris Division with a 40-33-7 record, good for 87 points. They swept the New York Rangers in four games of the opening round of the playoffs to advance to face the Philadelphia Flyers (36-36-8; 80 points), who had upset the division winning Washington Capitals (92 pts.) in six games.

Prior to the playoffs, despite missing four games, Mario Lemieux set personal records for goals (85), assists (114) and points on his way to the NHL scoring title, easily outdistancing Wayne Gretzky 199 points to 168. Additionally, his 85 goals were the third most of all-time and he became the third player ever to reach 100 assists in a season. He also scored 13 shorthanded goals that season to set a new NHL record. Despite all that, the most remarkable achievement of Lemieux's stellar 1988-89 season was joining the exclusive 50 goals in 50 games club, only the fifth player at the time to achieve the feat first accomplished by the famed Rocket Richard when he scored his 50th of the season in his 46th game.

Also during the same season, Lemieux had one of the most remarkable nights in NHL history on New Year's Eve in 1988 when he scored five goals - in five different ways! He started the night with an even strength goal and followed it with one shorthanded, on the power play, a penalty shot and capped off his amazing night with an empty net goal.

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Lemieux celebrates his remarkable five goals on New Year's Eve

Game 1 of the series went to Pittsburgh 4-3 at home, but the Flyers countered with a 4-2 win in Game 2 on the road. The Penguins returned the favor, taking Game 3 in Philadelphia after 12 minutes of overtime by a score of 4-3. The Flyers responded with a 4-1 win in Game 4 to even the series as the teams headed back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on this date in 1989.

Tom Barrasso got the start in goal for the Penguins while Ron Hextall was the starter for Philadelphia.

Lemieux opened the scoring with his 7th goal of the playoffs at 2:15 with assists from Paul Coffey and Kevin Stevens at even strength. Just 1:30 later Lemieux would strike again at 3:45 from Bob Errey and Coffey, again at even strength for a 2-0 Penguins lead. Lemieux then completed his natural hat trick in four minutes and 40 seconds at 6:55 on the power play from John Cullen to put the Penguins up 3-0.

Errey made it 4-0 Pittsburgh 7:07 before Philadelphia got on the board to give them a glimmer of hope at 11:45. Lemieux then tied an NHL record when he scored his fourth goal of the first period, again on the power play, at 17:09 from Dan Quinn on a wraparound into an unguarded net after he stole the puck from Flyers goaltender Hextall, sending the home fans into a frenzy. Just 35 seconds later Troy Loney made the score a remarkable 6-1 for the Penguins after just one period.

Despite giving up 6 goals in the first period, Hextall came out to start the second period, which was more of the same, with the teams combining for five more goals. A mere six seconds into the second period, Pelle Eklund converted a power play opportunity into the second Flyers goal, but Stevens countered for the Penguins just 1:37 later from Coffey and Lemieux at even strength. 

At 9:07, Brian Propp beat Barrasso, but yet again Pittsburgh responded quickly when Rob Brown lit the lamp to restore the Penguins five goal lead at 10:35 from Lemieux and Zarley Zalapski. Brown then made the score 9-3 at 12:55 from Lemeiux and Coffey. It was Lemeiux's third assist of the period to give him 7 points on the night - so far - and resulted in Hextall mercifully being pulled after giving up his ninth goal of the game, but not before the fiery Flyers netminder was given a 10 minute misconduct penalty. Brian Dobbin of Philadelphia then received a match penalty for attempt to injure Cullen during their fight at 17:03. 

The Flyers let the Penguins know they were not going to quit when they scored a shorthanded goal at 48 seconds and then tried to make a game of it by scoring at 10:21, 13:02 on the power play and finally another one 17:23 to close the gap to a worrisome 9-7.

Hoping to pull off the miraculous comeback, Philadelphia pulled goaltender Ken Wregget, but Lemieux sealed the 10-7 victory for Pittsburgh with his fifth goal of the night at 19:23.

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Lemieux's hat trick in the opening seven minutes was just the beginning

The Flyers then began the "message sending" of the era with the game now out of hand with a fight at 19:44 and an all-out line brawl with only nine seconds remaining which included all the players on the ice, including the Flyers goaltender Ken Wregget, who got involved to keep the numbers even, as Philadelphia was shorthanded from the previous altercation. In all, there were six fighting majors, three misconducts, two roughing, three slashing plus single elbowing and charging penalties all in the last 16 seconds in addition to Wregget being tagged for leaving his crease.

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Lemieux tied NHL records for Most Goals in a Playoff Game (5) held by Newsy Lalonde (1919), Richard (1944), Darryl Sittler (1976) and Reggie Leach (1976) and Most Points in a Playoff Game (8) as well as most goals in one period in a playoff game (4 in the first period) and most assists in a period in a playoff game (3 in the second period) that night.

In the 71 year history of the NHL, 8 points in a playoff game  had only been accomplished once prior, that by Patrik Sundstrom just the year before Lemieux. No one has since equalled Lemieux's records of 5 goals or 8 points in a playoff game a quarter century later.

The eight point night was the third of Lemieux's season, as he put up eight in the fourth game of the season and again on New Year's Eve, the aforementioned night he scored goals in five different ways. Lemieux remains the only player in NHL history to have scored eight points in a game three separate times, a feat he accomplished in a single season! It also remained the last time anyone scored eight in a game for 23 years until Sam Gagner managed the feat in 2012 and ranks second all-time for most points in an NHL game behind Sittler's 10.

Today's featured jersey is a 1988-89 Pittsburgh Penguins Mario Lemieux jersey worn on the memorable night during which he scored a record tying 5 goals and 8 points during a single playoff game.

This was the first season for this particular lettering style on the Penguins jerseys with the names on the back now changing to a sans-serif block font. In addition, the font for the numbers changed slightly to a thicker font for the back numbers with the sleeve numbers becoming noticeably more squarish when compared to the previous style.


Today's video section takes a look at the Penguins - Flyers playoff series in 1989, which includes Lemeiux's historic eight point night in Game 5. Ah, Michael, Michael motorcycle!

Here is Brown scoring the Penguins 9th goal of the game, which sets off the always tightly-wound Hextall. Lemieux's assist was his 7th point of the game.

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