The greatest player to ever strap on a pair of ice skates had plenty of memories on this date in National Hockey League history. He was far from the only Hockey Hall of Famer to hit a personal milestone. Also, today was a busy day on Broadway and in the U.S. Captial. So, let’s take our daily trip back through the decades!
Gretzky Rules the Day
Wayne Gretzky’s legendary career is filled with memorable dates, and Dec 13 is right up there near the top of the list. He accomplished three personal feats on this date, as he built up the most impressive resume in hockey history.
Starting on Dec 13, 1983, when Gretzky scored his 300th career goal as the Edmonton Oilers lost 8-5 at the reigning four-time Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders. He needed just 350 games to join the 300-goal club.
Two years later, on Dec 13, 1985, Gretzky lit the lamp twice and picked up two assists to lead the Oilers to a 6-3 win at the Winnipeg Jets. The huge night gave him 1,200 NHL points. He reached this milestone in just 504 games, averaging 2.38 points per game to start his career.
Finally, on Dec 13, 1989, Gretzky set a Los Angeles Kings team record by picking up an assist in his 17th straight game. He had the primary assist on Luc Robitaille’s third-period power-play goal in a 5-2 road win at the Hartford Whalers. He racked up 35 helpers during his 17-game streak.
More Hall of Fame Milestones
The Great One was far from the only member of the Hockey Hall of Fame to reach a personal milestone on this date.
On Dec 13, 1931, Tiny Thompson became the first goaltender in Boston Bruins history to get 20 career shutouts in a 3-0 win at the Chicago Blackhawks. He retired in 1939 with 74 career shutouts, which are still the most in franchise history. Since this date, seven more goaltenders have earned at least 20 shutouts in a Bruins uniform.
Before Gretzky showed up, Gordie Howe was the owner of most of the league’s scoring records. On this date in 1958, Howe scored his 400th career goal during the Detroit Red Wings’ 2-2 tie with the Montreal Canadiens. He joined Maurice Richard, who was in uniform for the Canadiens on this night, as the only two players in league history to score 400 goals.
Jean Beliveau became just the second player in Canadiens history to score 800 points on Dec 13, 1964, in a 5-4 win in Boston. The milestone came with an assist in his 710th career game. A total of just seven players have scored 800 points in a Habs sweater. Beliveau’s 1,219 points are second in franchise history behind only Guy Lafleur.
Bobby Orr recorded his 300th career point on Dec 13, 1970, with a goal in his 279th career game. He also began a team-record 14-game assist streak with two helpers, as Bruins beat the Red Wings 6-2.
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In the same game Gretzky scored his 300th goal, on Dec 13, 1983, Bryan Trottier scored a goal and added an assist to give him 900 NHL points. He is still the Islanders’ all-time leader with 853 assists and 1,353 points.
Paul Coffey made history on Dec 13, 1995, during the Red Wings 3-1 win over the rival Blackhawks. He became the first defenseman ever to earn 1,000 NHL assists when he set up Igor Larionov’s goal in the first period. At the time, he, Gretzky, Howe, and Marcel Dionne were the only players in the 1,000-assist club. Since this date, nine more players have joined, the most recent being Joe Thornton.
Mats Sundin became the fifth player to get 400 assists as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec 13, 2003, during a 3-1 defeat of the visiting New York Rangers. Mikael Renberg had two goals and an assist to lead the scoring. Defenseman Tomas Kaberle is the only other player to rack up 400 assists for the Leafs since this date.
Big Hits on Broadway
The early 1990s was a great time to be a member and fan of the Rangers. This date brought a trio of big performances to the Big Apple.
Mark Messier scored his 15th career hat trick on Dec 13, 1991, as the Rangers beat the Washington Capitals 5-3. This was the second of six career regular-season hat tricks in New York. He also had one very memorable postseason hat trick against the New Jersey Devils in 1994.
On Dec 13, 1992, the Rangers beat the Canadiens 10-5 at Madison Square Garden. This marked the first time New York scored double-digit goals against Montreal in 535 games since joining the NHL in 1926.
One year later, on Dec 13, 1993, Mike Richter recorded his sixth career shutout in a 2-0 win over the visiting Buffalo Sabres. He earned 24 shutouts before retiring in 2003, tied with Chuck Rayner and Gump Worsley for the fifth-most in franchise history.
Making a Mark in D.C.
In addition to New York City, playing in the United States’ capital on this date led to good things for three players.
For starters, on Dec 13, 1996, Peter Bondra scored his eighth NHL hat trick to become the third player in Capitals’ franchise history to score 200 goals. The milestone came in Washington’s 5-4 road loss at the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Bondra was the team’s all-time scoring leader until some guy named Alex Ovechkin showed up and shattered all of his records.
Sergei Gonchar became the fifth defenseman in team history to get 200 career assists on Dec 13, 2003, in the Capitals’ 4-3 win at the Phoenix Coyotes. His 272 assists are still the fifth-most in franchise history behind John Carlson, Calle Johansson, Scott Stevens, and Kevin Hatcher. Larry Murphy and Mike Green are the only other blueliners to have at least 200 assists with the team.
On Dec 13, 2014, Nicklas Backstrom scored his first career regular-season hat trick, a natural one, in a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. He had a previous hat trick during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs versus the Canadiens.
Odds & Ends
Paul Gardner became the first player in Pittsburgh Penguins’ history to score four goals in a game on Dec 13, 1980, in a 6-5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. It was his third career hat trick and first with the Penguins.
That same night, Wayne Cashman became just the fourth player in Bruins history to score 700 points when he picked up an assist in a 2-1 loss to the visiting Vancouver Canucks. His 793 career points for Boston are still the seventh-most in franchise history.
Joe Nieuwendyk found the back of the net four times on Dec 13, 1987, to lead the Calgary Flames to a 7-1 road win at the Sabres. He became the first NHL rookie since Cully Wilson of the Maple Leafs in 1919-20 to have two four-goal games in the same season.
Manon Rheaume became the first woman to appear in a regular-season professional hockey game on Dec 13, 1992, when she entered the second period for the Atlanta Knights of the old International Hockey League (IHL). She gave up one goal on four shots during her six minutes of game action as the Knights lost 4-1 to the Salt Lake Golden Eagles.
Petr Klima scored his 300th NHL goal on Dec 13, 1995, as the Lightning beat the Hartford Whalers 3-2.
Gino Odjick became the fifth NHL player to accumulate 2,000 career penalty minutes with one team on Dec 13, 1997, in the Canucks 5-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. The other players who accomplished this feat at the time were Terry O’Reilly (Bruins), Chris Nilan (Canadiens), Ken Daneyko (Devils), and Rob Ray (Sabres). Behind the bench, Mike Keenan coached his 900th NHL game.
Patrick Lalime became the Ottawa Senators’ all-time leader in career shutouts on Dec 13, 2001, with his 14th as a member of the team. Martin Havlat led the offensive attack by scoring three goals in a 6-0 win over the Coyotes. Lalime broke the old record held by Ron Tugnutt. Before his run in Ottawa was through, he recorded 30 shutouts, which are still atop the team’s all-time list.
The Anaheim Ducks won 2-1 at the Atlanta Thrashers on Dec 13, 2006, to set a league record for the best road record through the first 15 games of a season. Teemu Selanne scored both of the Ducks’ goals to give them a 12-1-2 record and 26 points away from home. This eclipsed the 10-0-5 record and 25 points set by the 1951-52 Red Wings.
Patrick Kane extended his point streak to 26 consecutive games on Dec 13, 2015, with an assist in the Blackhawks’ 4-0 win versus the Canucks. This is the longest point streak by a U.S.-born player in NHL history. It was also the longest such streak since Sundin had points in 30 straight games for the Quebec Nordiques during the 1992-93 season.
Happy Birthday to You
Today’s group of 18 birthday boys is headlined by Hockey Hall of Famers Bob Gainey (68) and Sergei Federov (52). Other notable players born on this date include Bates Battaglia (46), Dan Hamhuis (39), Kevin Kline (37), Vladimir Tarasenko (30), Blake Lizotte (24), Cal Foote (23), and the late Doug Mohns.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.