The Great One proved that his nickname was well-earned twice on this date in National Hockey League history. This was also a very busy date in upstate New York. In addition, some cross-town rivalries were put into motion and the last game of two record-setting streaks occurred. It is time to take our daily trip back through the decades.
More NHL Firsts for Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky accomplished two feats on this date, back in the 1980s, that no player had ever done before and have only been repeated one time each since.
First, on Dec. 10, 1986, Gretzky scored three goals to lead the Edmonton Oilers past the Winnipeg Jets 7-4. This made him the first player in NHL history to rack up 40 career hat tricks. He finished his career with 50, which are still the most in league history. Pittsburgh Penguins’ legend Mario Lemieux is the only other player to ever score 40 hat tricks.
Three years later, on Dec. 10, 1989, and now a member of the Los Angeles Kings, Gretzky became the first player to ever score 1,900 NHL points. The milestone came with an assist during an 8-4 victory at the Quebec Nordiques. The only other player to reach the 1,900-point plateau in league history is Jaromir Jagr.
A Great Day for Hainsworth
On Dec. 10, 1931, goaltender George Hainsworth led the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-0 win at the New York Americans. This was the 64th shutout of his career and it moved him ahead of Alec Connell for the most in NHL history. Canadiens forward Pit Lepine was the only goal-scorer on the night as he put up the fourth hat trick of his career. Hainsworth ended his Hall of Fame career with 94 shutouts which are still the third-most ever recorded.
Exactly one year later, Hainsworth became the first goaltender to earn 150 victories as a member of the Canadiens. This milestone came in a 3-2 win against Connell and the visiting Ottawa Senators.
The Streaks Continue
Bernie Nicholls extended his team-record point-scoring streak to 25 straight games, on Dec. 10, 1984, as Kings lost 4-2 at the New York Rangers. He scored 21 goals and 40 points during his 25-game streak. Gretzky equaled this streak during the 1990-91 season, but the duo still shares the longest point streak in team history.
Eight years later, on Dec. 10, 1992, Mats Sundin extended his 30-game point streak with an assist in the Nordiques’ 5-4 win at the Kings. He scored 21 goals and 46 points during his franchise-record point streak. He joined Gretzky and Lemieux as the only players in league history to have a 30-game point streak and nobody has had one since. Patrick Kane’s 26-game point streak for the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2015-16 season was the longest since 1992.
Cross-Town Rivalries Begin
The first-ever game between the Montreal Maroons and their cross-town rivals, the Canadiens, took place on Dec. 10, 1924. Goaltending legend Georges Vezina earned his ninth career shutout in a 5-0 win over the Maroons. Aurel Joliat was the offensive hero by scoring four of the five Canadiens’ goals.
Nearly five decades later, on Dec. 10, 1972, the Rangers hosted the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden for the very first time. Blueshirts’ goaltender Peter McDuffe earned his first career victory in a 4-1 win over the invaders from Long Island. This was one of just seven starts McDuffe made for the Rangers.
Let’s Go, Buffalo
Usually, an 8-2 loss is not something to celebrate, especially for a goaltender. However, on Dec. 10, 1970, Joe Daley set a Buffalo Sabres franchise record by making 64 saves in the blow out defeat to the Boston Bruins. This was the Sabres’ first visit to Boston and the 72 shots allowed were the most given up in an NHL game since 1943. Daley’s 64 saves are still the most in team history and the third-most ever made in an NHL game since the start of the 1955-56 season.
Gil Perreault scored a goal and added three assists, on Dec. 10, 1978, to lead the Sabres to a 5-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Memorial Auditorium. Defenseman Jim Schoenfeld had 12 shots in the game.
One year later, on Dec. 10, 1979, Don Edwards became the second goaltender to record 10 shutouts in team history as the Sabres beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-0 for their eighth consecutive victory.
The Sabres had a much better visit to Boston, on Dec. 10, 1983, as they beat the Bruins 4-2 the first of their NHL-record 10 straight road wins. Lindy Ruff led the scoring with a goal and two assists.
Dave Andreychuk collected his 500th NHL point, on Dec. 10, 1989, as the Sabres beat the visiting Washington Capitals 4-3. This was the Sabres 12th straight home win, tying a club record.
Finally, on Dec 10, 1993, Alexander Mogilny had three assists to lead the Sabres to a 6-2 win over the Calgary Flames.
Odds & Ends
Goaltender Johnny Bower played in his final NHL game, on Dec. 10, 1969, at the age of 45. He lost 6-3 to the Canadiens in his lone start of the 1969-70 season. He retired with a record of 250-192-90, with 37 shutouts, for the Rangers and Maple Leafs. He is also the American Hockey League’s (AHL) all-time leader with 359 wins. In that same game, Claude Provost’s empty-net goal made him the eighth player to ever score 250 goals for the Habs.
Gary Dornhoefer scored his third and final hat trick of his career, on Dec. 10, 1972, to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a 5-2 win over the Maple Leafs. With his three tallies, he became the first player to score 100 goals in a Flyers’ uniform.
Marcel Dionne scored his sixth career hat trick, on Dec. 10, 1975, and Rogie Vachon recorded his 31st career shutout as the Kings beat the St. Louis Blues 5-0. Eight years later, Dionne scored his 557th career goal to Bruins legend Johnny Bucyk for fourth all-time in NHL goal-scoring. The milestone came in the Kings’ 6-4 win over the Nordiques.
On Dec. 10, 1992, the NHL announced expansion franchises had been awarded to Anaheim and Miami. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Florida Panthers began play at the start of the 1993-94 season and brought the league up to 26 teams.
Defenseman Michel Petit picked up an assist, on Dec. 10, 1997, in the Phoenix Coyotes’ 3-3 tie with the Blackhawks, to become the first player in NHL history to score a point for 10 different teams.
Capitals fired head coach Bruce Cassidy, on Dec. 10, 2003, and named assistant coach Glen Hanlon as his replacement. His dismissal came after just 110 games behind the bench where he went 47-47-9. He wouldn’t get another NHL head coaching job until the Bruins hired him during the 2016-17 season.
Jarome Iginla became the 16th player in league history, on Dec. 10, 2016, to play in 1,500 games. The night was rather forgettable after the opening faceoff as he was held scoreless in the Colorado Avalanche’s 10-1 loss in Montreal.
Happy Birthday to You
A total of 15 players have played in at least one NHL game were born on Dec. 10. The most successful of the group are Hall of Fame defenseman and current Kings general manager Rob Blake (51), Rene Bourque (39), Nate Guenin (27) and Jaycob Megna (28).