This date in National Hockey League history has been a somber one for fans in Montreal as they lost one of the biggest legends and a great goaltender played his final game for them. Also, there were plenty of netminders who had memorable performances, a handful of franchise records were set or tied and milestones were reached on Long Island.
The Hockey World Loses a Legend
One of the biggest icons in the sport of hockey, Jean Beliveau, passed away at 83, on Dec. 2, 2014. He spent his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens, making his league debut in 1950 and retiring in 1971. During this time, he scored 507 goals and 1,219 points in 1,125 games. He had the combination of amazing skill and grace to go along with size and toughness.
Beliveau played in 17 straight Stanley Cup Playoffs from 1954 to 1971. In 162 total postseason games, he scored 79 goals and 176 points. He won the Stanley Cup 10 times in his career, including five straight between 1956 and 1960. The final game of his remarkable run was Game 7 of the 1971 Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. He went out as champion, the perfect ending to his legendary career.
Roy’s Last Hooray
The Detroit Red Wings blew out the Canadiens 11-1, on Dec. 2, 1995, to match the most goals ever scored against the Habs. Vyacheslav Kozlov scored four times, Sergei Fedorov had a goal and four assists, and Igor Larionov finished with a goal and three assists to give Montreal their worst home loss in franchise history.
However, this is just where the story of this game begins. For the fans at the old Montreal Forum, they had no idea they were watching Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy’s final game in a Canadiens uniform. Roy and head coach Mario Tremblay had a strained relationship that finally came to a head.
Roy just didn’t have it on this night, but he was left hung out to dry by his head coach. Finally, in the second period, after giving up nine goals on 26 shots, Tremblay pulled his All-Star goaltender. As he stormed off the ice, he told team president Ronald Corey, who was sitting behind the team’s bench, that this was his last game in Montreal. He was suspended shortly after that, but he wasn’t wrong because four days later he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche.
More Goaltending Memories
There were quite a few goaltending greats who had a better time than Roy did on this date. Starting on Dec. 2, 1961, when Gerry Cheevers made his NHL debut and led the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 6-4 win over the Blackhawks. He entered the game replacing an injured Johnny Bower, who started in net. In played in just two games for the Maple Leafs before being claimed in the 1965 NHL Intra-League Draft by the Boston Bruins.
Staying in Toronto, on Dec. 2, 1970, Jacques Plante earned his 74th career shutout, and first with the Leafs, in a 7-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Dave Keon scored the fourth hat trick of his career to lead the offense.
On Dec. 2, 1999, John Vanbiesbrouck became the first U.S.-born goaltender, and eighth in NHL history, to play in 800 career games, as the Philadelphia Flyers picked up a 4-2 road win at the Buffalo Sabres.
Ed Belfour made history, on Dec. 2, 2001, tied an NHL record by picking up an assist in his third straight game. He also set the Dallas Stars’ franchise record for goaltenders with his fourth assist of the season, in a 6-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
After 21 seasons and an NHL-best 364 wins with the New Jersey Devils, on Dec. 2, 2014, Martin Brodeur signed with the St. Louis Blues. He appeared in just seven games with the Blues, going 3-3-0 with a .889 save percentage and 2.87 goals-against average. He did pick up the 124th and final shutout of his career while in St. Louis.
The Anaheim Ducks made a huge comeback, on Dec. 2, 2018, to beat the Washington Capitals. They scored the final five goals of the game, after trailing 5-1, to pull off a 6-5 victory. This was the first time in NHL history where a reigning Stanley Cup champion lost after being up by at least four goals. More importantly, Ryan Miller, who replaced John Gibson, picked up his 374th win, tying Vanbiesbrouck for the most by an American goaltender.
All About Franchise Records
Johnny Bucyk lit the lamp twice, on Dec. 2, 1967, in a 4-4 tie with the Blackhawks. This gave him 230 goals, making him the highest-scoring player in Bruins franchise history. He broke the old record held by Milt Schmidt. He went on to score 545 goals in Boston, still the team record.
Marcel Dionne set a new team record by scoring a goal in his sixth straight game, on Dec. 2, 1978, to help the Kings beat his former team, the Red Wings, 5-2.
Mario Lemieux scored three goals and picked up an assist, on Dec. 2, 1989, to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 7-4 win at the Quebec Nordiques. His third goal was the 316th of his career, tying him with Jean Pronovost as the Penguins’ all-time leading goal scorer.
On that same night, Ed Olcyzk had an assist in the Maple Leafs’ 7-4 loss to the Calgary Flames. This started a franchise-record 18-point streak. He wasn’t held off the scoresheet again until Jan. 10, 1990, against the New York Islanders. He scored 11 goals and 28 points during this streak.
Garth Butcher set a team record for defensemen with four assists, on Dec. 2, 1990, as he helped the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-1 the Winnipeg Jets.
A decade later, on Dec. 2, 2000, Al MacInnis had four assists to pass Rob Ramage and become the highest-scoring defenseman in Blues’ history with 300 points. The milestone came in a 5-2 win against the visiting Florida Panthers.
Finally, on Dec. 2, 2003, Mats Sundin became the Maple Leafs’ all-time leader in game-winning goals, when his 64th gave Toronto a 5-4 victory over the New York Rangers. He broke the old record of 63 set by Keon.
Long Island Milestones
On Dec. 2, 1976, Bert Marshall scored the 1,000th goal in Islanders’ team history. Unfortunately, it came during a 4-2 loss to the visiting Penguins.
Mike Bossy became just the second player in team history to score 200 goals, on Dec. 2, 1980, joining Bryan Trottier. The Islanders 5-1 win over the Colorado Rockies, on this night, extended their team-record undefeated streak to 15 games (13-0-2). Bossy needed just 255 games to score 200 goals, which, at the time, was the fewest needed to accomplish this feat in the modern era. He didn’t hold this record very long as Wayne Gretzky only needed 242 games to score 200 goals.
Denis Potvin had a goal and an assist, on Dec. 2, 1986, in a 3-3 tie at the Flames. With the helper, he became the first defenseman in NHL history to record 700 career assists. He retired with 742 assists, still good for 10th place on the all-time list for blueliners.
Odds & Ends
The National Hockey Association, the predecessor of the NHL, was officially founded on Dec. 2, 1909. The first season of the league featured the Cobalt Silver Kings, Haileybury Comets, Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Shamrocks, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators and Renfrew Creamery Kings. The Wanderers took home the first-ever NHA championship.
On Dec. 2, 1925, the New York Americans played their first NHL game, a 2-1 overtime victory versus the Pittsburgh Pirates. Charlie Langlois scored in overtime after Billy Burch scored the first goal in franchise history during regulation.
Two new teams were introduced, on Dec. 2, 1969, as the NHL Board of Governors announced that expansion franchises were awarded to Buffalo and the Vancouver. Both the Sabres and Canucks began league play at the start of the 1970-71 season.
Dionne scored a goal and added three assists, on Dec. 2, 1972, to lead the Red Wings to a 4-1 win over the Islanders. This was the first game ever played between these two teams.
Hall of Famer Denis Savard recorded his 500th NHL assist, on Dec. 2, 1987, in the Blackhawks’ 5-1 loss at the Blues.
Glenn Anderson scored his 20th career hat trick and added two assists, on Dec. 2, 1989, as the Oilers beat the Minnesota North Stars 6-1. This extended their home undefeated streak against the North Stars to 14 games (11-0-3).
Alex Ovechkin hit a pair of milestones, on Dec. 2, 2017, with his power-play goal in the Capitals’ 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The goal was the 577th of his career, which tied him with Mark Recchi for 20th place on the all-time goals list. Also, it was his 218th NHL power-play goal, jumping him ahead of both Jaromir Jagr and Mike Gartner for 10th all-time.
Happy Birthday to You
A very talented group of 24 current and former NHL players have been born on this date. The most notable of the Dec. 2 birthday boys are Val Fonteyne (87), Paul Holmgren (65), Rich and Ron Sutter (57), Kelly Buchberger (54), Sergei Zholtok (48), Joel Ward (40), Jesper Fast (29) and Elias Lindholm (26).