Pittsburgh Penguins History: Most Penalties in One Playoff Game

Pittsburgh Penguins, Mario Lemieux, (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins, Mario Lemieux, (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images) /

On this day in Pittsburgh Penguins history, Apr. 6, 1989, Pittsburgh set a franchise record for most penalties in one playoff game with 25.

During the 1988-89 season, Pittsburgh Penguins adopted a tougher identity and led the league with 2656 penalties-in-minutes (PIM) which stands as the second-most ever recorded in a season and remains the franchise record to this day.

The Penguins were penalized on average for 33.4 minutes per game, and interestingly enough opponents were penalized on average of 33.8 minutes, which probably explains why Pittsburgh was able to gain as much success as they did, finishing 6th overall in the NHL standings.

Pittsburgh had 15 players with 100 or more PIM during the regular season, including Mario Lemieux, who collected 100 PIM.

Setting the Stage

The penalty laden trend continued into Pittsburgh’s first-round matchup with the New York Rangers.

The series marked the first time since 1982 the Penguins made the postseason and it was also Lemieux’s first chance at competing for the Stanley Cup.

Pittsburgh took game one of the series by a score of 3-1, with two goals from Coffey on the powerplay and the insurance tally from Dan Quinn.

Tensions boiled over in the second period, as players from both squads earned 10-minute misconducts.

Randy Hillier earned Pittsburgh’s, with David Shaw, Michel Petit, and Lindy Ruff taking the calls for New York.

Things escalated further near the end of the third period when 22 PIM were handed out in the final two minutes with Tony Granato taking the lion share of 15 PIM (game misconduct and high-sticking)

By the end of the game, the Rangers earned 70 PIM and Pittsburgh 34 PIM, which set up a rather contentious encounter the next time the two teams met.

Spilling Over

It did not take long for the fireworks to start in the second game of the series, as less than a minute and a half into the game, Phil Bourque (PIT) and Chris Nilan (NY) exchanged pleasantries.

From there the game quickly digressed into something more resembling a barroom brawl than a playoff hockey game.

By the time the horn sounded at the end of the third period, the Penguins set a franchise record for most penalties in a playoff game, with 25 which translated to 72 PIM.

The penalty breakdown:

  • Unsportsmanlike Conduct = 3
  • Roughing = 10
  • Cross-Checking = 1
  • Holding = 3
  • Fighting = 2
  • Interference = 1
  • Misconduct = 2
  • High-Sticking = 2
  • Elbowing = 1

Player PIM breakdown:

There was also plenty of offense in the game as the teams found time to score 11 goals in between penalty calls.

Pittsburgh earned their second win of the series, taking the game by a score of 7-4 and going up two games to none.

On a side note, Lemieux was effectively shut down for the second straight game by the duo of Jan Erixon and Lucien DeBlois, although “Super Mario” scored an empty-net goal in the dying seconds of the game.

Do you have any memories from this series? Are you surprised the record still stands? Drop them in the comment section below.