The Montreal Canadiens are the most storied and successful franchise in the history of the National Hockey League. Some of their biggest legends had memorable games on this date. Also, throwing your hat onto the ice has been a common occurrence on Dec. 18. So, bring your best throwing hat and jump on board our daily hockey time machine.
Monumental Date in Montreal
George Hainsworth was one of the NHL’s earliest goaltending stars. On Dec. 18, 1928, he beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-0 to set a new league record with his fifth straight road shutout. Fellow Hall of Famer Howie Morenz led the offense with a pair of goals and an assist.
Jean Beliveau and Bernie Geoffrion, who made their NHL debuts together in the same game, both scored hat tricks on Dec. 18, 1952, to lead the way in the Canadiens’ 6-2 win against the New York Rangers. This was the first of 18 regular-season hat tricks for Beliveau. He also had one in the postseason. As for Geoffrion, this was his second of 17 total NHL hat tricks, with three of those coming during the Stanly Cup Playoffs.
Related – Greatest Habs Player of All-Time
Maurice Richard scored his 16th goal of the season on Dec. 18, 1954, in a 4-2 road win at the Blackhawks. With this tally, he became the first player in the history of the league to score 400 career goals. He scored 144 more times before retiring in 1960. Since this date, 101 NHL players have scored at least 400 career goals. The closest active player to reach this milestone is Phil Kessel of the Arizona Coyotes, who is sitting on 396 goals.
Beliveau was at it again on Dec. 18, 1973, when he scored two goals in Montreal’s 7-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. This gave him 324 goals in his career, which tied the record, at the time, for centers that was held by Nels Stewart.
Goaltender Ken Dryden led the way on Dec. 18, 1977, by making 22 saves in a 2-0 win at the Philadelphia Flyers. This was the 39th shutout of the future Hall of Famer’s career. This started a 28-game undefeated streak that saw the Canadiens go 23-0-5. They did not lose again until Feb. 25, 1978, versus the Rangers.
A Bevy of Hat Tricks
In a game that saw three different players score hat tricks, the Maple Leafs beat the Rangers 8-4 on Dec. 18, 1965. Dave Keon scored the first hat trick of his remarkable career for Toronto, while his teammate Bob Pulford racked up the second of his. Earl Ingarfield scored three of the four goals for New York.
Rangers’ rookie Ron Duguay scored his first career hat trick, on Dec. 18, 1977, and added an assist as New York beat the Detroit Red Wings 6-2. This was the first of his 10 total hat tricks. He scored six for the Rangers, five in the regular season and one in the playoffs. The other four came, ironically enough, as a member of the Red Wings.
On Dec. 18, 1982, rookie Steve Larmer scored his second hat trick of the season. His linemate, Denis Savard, recorded four assists as the Blackhawks beat the Maple Leafs 8-5, in Toronto.
Charlie Simmer scored his ninth and final career hat trick on Dec. 18, 1986, and added two assists to lead the Boston Bruins in a 6-5 loss to the Hartford Whalers. Keith Crowder had two goals and an assist to extend his point streak to 12 games.
On the same night, both Tim Kerr and Dave Poulin scored three times in the Flyers’ 9-4 win over the New York Islanders. This was the fifth and final hat trick of Poulin’s career while Kerr had an assist to go with his 12th NHL hat trick.
Before beginning his successful coaching career, on Dec. 18, 1987, Gerard Gallant scored his first career hat trick and added an assist. Steve Yzerman chipped in with three assists as the Red Wings beat up on the visiting Minnesota North Stars 8-3.
A Pair of Coaching Achievements
On Dec. 18, 2007, Jacques Lemaire made history behind the bench for the Minnesota Wild’s 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators. He became the first person to coach 1,000 NHL games after playing at least 800.
Nine years later, on Dec. 18, 2016, John Tortorella became the first U.S.-born head coach to win 500 NHL games. The milestone was made possible by Seth Jones’ overtime goal in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 4-3 road win at the Vancouver Canucks. He was the 24th coach in league history to join the 500-win club.
Odds & Ends
In a scoreless tie between the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Maroons, a pair of Hall of Fame goaltenders set early NHL milestones on Dec. 18, 1926. Alec Connell, of the visiting Senators, became just the second netminder to ever record 25 shutouts. Clint Benedict, who was the first goaltender to earn 25 shutouts, became the first to get to 30. The first 19 shutouts of his career came with the Senators.
Speaking of shutouts, on Dec. 18, 1955, rookie Glen Hall picked up his third consecutive shutout in the Red Wings’ 2-0 win over Montreal. The team in front of him made things relatively easy as he only had to face 56 shots during his shutout streak.
On Dec. 18, 1980, the Blackhawks traded defenseman Mike O’Connell to the Bruins for forward Al Secord. O’Connell spent six seasons in Boston, but this trade was a clear win for the Blackhawks. Secord scored 213 goals and 373 points in eight seasons with Chicago, including three seasons of at least 40 goals. He scored a career-high 54 goals during the 1982-83 season.
Three years later, on Dec. 18, 1983, Secord was in uniform for a 5-1 home loss to the Bruins. Before the game, the Blackhawks retired the No. 9 of Bobby Hull. The Golden Jet is the franchise’s all-time goals leader with 604 and is fifth with 549 assists and second with 1,153 points.
On that same evening, Wayne Gretzky scored two goals and assisted on two others in the Edmonton Oilers’ 7-5 win over the Winnipeg Jets. This gave him 100 points in just 34 games, making him the fastest player to hit triple digits in an NHL season. He finished the 1983-84 season with 205 points, the second of four 200-point seasons in his legendary career.
Six years later, on Dec. 18, 1989, Bobby’s son, Brett Hull, scored the 100th goal of his career during the St. Louis Blues’ 6-3 loss in Toronto. He retired in 2005 with 741 career goals.
Dave Andreychuk played in his 1,000th NHL game on Dec. 18, 1993, and he celebrated in grand fashion. He scored two goals, to give him 400 in his career, and added an assist in the Maple Leafs’ 4-1 victory against the Los Angeles Kings.
Ron Tugnutt recorded the first shutout in Blue Jackets’ history on Dec. 18, 2000, leading them to a 2-0 win at the Canadiens. This was his 16th career shutout.
Mark Recchi was the third player to score his 400th goal on this date, on Dec. 18, 2001. His milestone goal came in the Flyers’ 6-3 win over the Blues, who were playing their 3000th game in franchise history.
Alexander Mogilny had two assists to give him 500 in his NHL career on Dec. 18, 2002, in the Maple Leafs 2-2 tie with the Florida Panthers.
On Dec. 18, 2008, the Canucks signed veteran free agent forward Mats Sundin. He played the final 41 games of his Hall of Fame career in Vancouver, scoring nine goals and 28 points.
Happy Birthday to You
A very talented group of 16 current and former NHL players were born on Dec. 18. The headliners of this bunch are Jean Pronovost (76), Bob Brooke (61), Bob Corkum (54), Dan Cleary (44), Brian Boyle (37), Victor Hedman (31), Charlie Lindgren (28), Alex DeBrincat (24), and Jake Oettinger (23).
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.