The ’12 Days of Christmas’ is a classic holiday song first published in its current form in 1908. In a nod to the classic carol, join The Hockey Writers as we count down the 12 Days of Hockeymas. Each day, we will provide you with a piece of hockey history as we eagerly await the start of the 2020-21 NHL season.
During this ‘Hockeymas’ series, we have taken the opportunity to relive and expand upon some of the more memorable moments in Canadiens history. What makes this particularly fun is that the team’s history is so vast that one could almost select a date at random and still find a solid story worth telling or retelling. Yesterday, we drifted a few years into the past to 2014, but today we plunge back a century to Jan. 10, 1920 when Habs star Newsy Lalonde recorded six goals in a single game.
The world at the time, fraught with the devastation of its own era-defining problems, including the conclusion of the First World War in 1918 and the start of the 1918 flu pandemic, was just becoming acquainted with the NHL as a sports entity. With the rise of a new league, which began in 1917, came the rise of new stars.
Lalonde the Superstar
Édouard Cyrille Lalonde or “Newsy” was one of those stars and it did not take him long to become adored by fans in Montreal. He was a member of the Canadiens in their inaugural NHL season in 1917-18. The team included other legends like Georges Vezina in goal and high-scoring Joe Malone at forward. Lalonde played only 14 of 21 games that season, but finished second in scoring behind Malone with 23 goals.
He continued his scoring pace in the 1918-19 season, leading the team with 23 goals and nine assists in 17 games. These numbers shied in comparison to the 1919-20 season where he finished second in the league with 36 goals and 42 points in 23 games. However, he scored about 16 percent of those goals in a single game.
The 6-Goal Game
The Toronto St. Pats entered Montreal on Jan. 10, 1920, to play the Canadiens at the Mount Royal Arena. It was the second meeting of the season between the teams with the St. Pats taking the first game 5-1 in Toronto on New Year’s Eve. Lalonde and the Canadiens had other plans on home ice. The scoring began when Didier Pitre scored four minutes into the game on a pass from Lalonde.
Moments later Lalonde scored his first of the game, opening the flood gates. He scored another just two minutes after his first, and the Canadiens finished the period up by six goals. Lalonde topped his first period performance with a second-period hat trick within the first 10 and half minutes. With the game essentially out of reach, he added insult to injury with his sixth and final goal in the third period.
He finished the game with seven points and the Canadiens won the game by a staggering score of 14-7. By modern standards, the score of the game is in some ways laughable but it turns out it was slightly extraordinary by all standards as it is the highest scoring game of all-time (tied with the 1985 Oilers vs Blackhawks).
Lalonde’s Performance in Perspective
Lalonde’s six-goal performance is still a club record. In fact, he is one of only seven players to have ever scored six goals in a single game. The only person to score more in a single game was the Quebec Bulldog star and one–time Canadien Joe Malone, who set the new record with seven goals on Jan. 31, 1920, just a few weeks after Lalonde. He also scored five goals on two separate occasions on March 1, 1919, and Feb. 16, 1921.
As for other members of the Canadiens, Howie Morenz got close by scoring five goals on March 18, 1930. In addition, Maurice Richard scored five twice, once on Dec. 18, 1944, and the other during a playoff game on March23, 1944. The list does go on but is relatively short for five-goal scorers. Regardless, Lalonde separates himself as arguably the first superstar in Canadiens history.
Lalonde ended his NHL playing career in 1926-27 as a member of the New York Americans. He finished with 151 points in 99 games, including 124 goals and 27 assists. It seems safe to say he was a shoot-first kind of player. After his playing career, Lalonde launched a career in coaching, including for the Canadiens in 1932-33. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1950. His individual performance lives on as one of the best in Canadiens history.