Reggie Leach said he hopes Brayden Point breaks his record of goals in 10 straight Stanley Cup Playoff games that he set with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1976.
Point extended his goal streak to eight when the Tampa Bay Lightning center scored on the power play at 1:59 of the third period in their 8-0 win against the New York Islanders in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Monday.
“I think it’s great, I think it’s good for hockey,” Leach, now 71, said Tuesday from his home on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. “Records are meant to be broken and the young kid is playing well. I’ve seen a lot of his goals. To score in 10 consecutive games in the playoffs, that’s something special. I wish him all the luck.”
Point’s goal streak is the second-longest in NHL playoff history. He’ll try to keep it alive in Game 6 at Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS). The Lightning have a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series. Game 7, if necessary, would be played at Tampa Bay on Friday.
Leach, who was nicknamed “The Riverton Rifle” for a shot that helped him score 666 points (381 goals, 285 assists) in 934 NHL games with the Flyers, Boston Bruins, California Golden Seals and Detroit Red Wings, said Point “has a [heck] of a good chance” to break his record. Point has scored in 10 of the past 11 games.
“He’s a goal-scorer,” Leach said. “He doesn’t get himself into trouble and he doesn’t get himself tied up too much. That’s the big thing about good goal scorers. (Lightning forward) Steven Stamkos, ‘Ovi’ (Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin), they don’t go into the traffic, they stay away from the traffic and that’s where they get most of their goals.”
Point leads the NHL with 13 goals this postseason and has scored 18 points in 16 games. Leach scored 24 points (19 goals, five assists) in 16 playoff games in 1976 and is tied with Jari Kurri for the most goals in a single postseason; Kurri scored 19 with the Edmonton Oilers in 1985.
Leach scored six goals in seven games for the Flyers against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1976 Quarterfinals, and nine goals in five games against the Boston Bruins in the Semifinals, including a record-tying five in a 6-3 win in Game 5 that eliminated Boston. He had four goals in four games against the Montreal Canadiens, who swept the Flyers in the Final. Despite the loss, Leach won the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs.
“When you’re on a streak like that like I was on, I knew I was going to get a goal before I got to the rink because you’re so confident and you can get to your spots,” Leach said. “I used to leave the house and tell my wife, ‘I’m going to get a goal tonight, for sure.'”
He said Point is probably experiencing the same feeling.
“Oh, yes, oh yes, he’s on a high on that one now,” Leach said. “He has the feeling that he can go into the rink and score. You’ve got to have that confidence when you’re doing so well.”
Leach said he’ll be thrilled for Point if he breaks his record, but he’d be equally happy to still have the one he and Kurri share.
“I don’t think that record (19 goals) will be broken for a while,” he said. “That’s a tough feat.”