Today in Hockey History: Dec. 23

New York was the site of a ton of great memories, both on Long Island and in Buffalo, on this date in National Hockey League history. With this being the final day of hockey before the Christmas break for nearly the last 50 years, there has plenty of big moments. Buckle up and enjoy our daily trip through the decades.

All About the Islanders

Denis Potvin scored a goal and had two assists, on Dec. 23, 1977, in the New York Islanders’ 7-5 loss at the Montreal Canadiens. He became the first defenseman in franchise history to score 100 goals. He retired with 310 career goals, the fifth-most in NHL history by a blueliner.

One year later, on Dec. 23, 1978, Bryan Trottier had a record-setting night during the Islanders’ 9-4 victory over the New York Rangers. After scoring the opening goal of the contest, he scored three goals and assisted on three others in the Islanders’ seven-goal explosion during the second period. His six points in the middle frame set a league record for the most in a single period. He finished his huge evening with five goals and three assists. The Isles took a 16-game unbeaten streak (12-0-4) into the Christmas break.

Islanders Dynasty
Trottier lifted the Stanley Cup four times with the Islanders. (THW Archives)

Mike Bossy picked up two assists and scored in overtime, on Dec. 23, 1986, to give New York a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. This was his 22nd goal of the season and 557th of his career, putting him ahead of Boston Bruins legend Johnny Bucyk for fifth all-time.

Pat Flatley scored his second career hat trick, including the game-winning goal in overtime, on Dec 23, 1990, as the Islanders earned another 4-3 victory against the Penguins.

Mike Sillinger scored his 10th goal of the season, on Dec. 23, 2006, to help the Islanders beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0. He became the first player in the history of the league to have double-digit goal seasons with nine different teams.

Let’s Go, Buffalo

Ted Sator became just the third man in NHL history to coach two teams in one season, on Dec. 23, 1986, when he led the Buffalo Sabres to a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. He took over for Craig Ramsay after being fired by the Rangers a month earlier.

Tom Barrasso became the third goaltender in franchise history to record 100 victories, on Dec. 23, 1987, as the Sabres beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-2. At 22 years, 9 months and 23 days old, he became the youngest goalie to win 100 NHL games.

Goalie Tom Barrasso
Barrasso began is long and successful career in Buffalo. (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)

Phil Housley picked up his 300th career NHL assist, on Dec. 23, 1988, as the Sabres won 5-2 over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs. One year later, he was back at with a goal and five assists in a 6-5 road victory at the Quebec Nordiques.

Alexander Mogilny scored three second-period goals for his fifth career hat trick, on Dec. 23, 1992, as the Sabres won 4-1 over the Washington Capitals.

Dominik Hasek was the star of the night, on Dec. 23, 1996, as he led Buffalo to a 5-0 win versus the Canadiens. He tied a team record with his fifth shutout of the season and became the first goaltender in the modern to record four shutouts in the same month.

Three years later, on Dec. 23, 1996, Hasek battled another future Hall of Famer, Martin Brodeur to a 0-0 tie. Both legendary goaltenders stopped 37 shot in the scoreless draw between the Sabres and New Jersey Devils.

Milestones on the Blue Line

Larry Murphy became the eighth defenseman in NHL history to record 600 career assists, on Dec. 23, 1992, in the Penguins’ 4-0 win over the Flyers.

Murphy’s former teammate, Paul Coffey, had an assist, on Dec. 23, 1999, in the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators. His helper made him the first defenseman in league history, and eighth player overall, to record 1,500 career points.

Al MacInnis had three assists, on Dec. 23, 2002, in the St. Louis Blues’ 5-0 win over the visiting Los Angeles Kings. This gave him 900 assists in his career, just the fourth blueliner to ever accomplish this feat. Goaltender Brent Johnson picked up the 11th shutout of his career.

A Pair of First Hat Tricks

Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman scored his first career hat trick, and added an assist, on Dec. 23, 1983, in the Red Wings’ 9-2 win over the Maple Leafs. John Ogrodnick chipped in with his fourth career hat trick and two assists. Yzerman had 22 hat tricks during his 22-season career, 18 in the regular season and four in the playoffs.  

Steve Yzerman Red Wings
Yzerman scored his first hat trick on this date in 1983. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Rookie Jeremy Roenick scored his first career hat trick, on Dec. 23, 1989, to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 7-5 win in Toronto. He had 10 regular-season hat tricks in his career, six with the Blackhawks and four with the Phoenix Coyotes.

A Busy Night in 2000

Brett Hull kicked off an eventful evening, on Dec. 23, 2000, when he scored twice in the Dallas Stars route of the Penguins in Pittsburgh. This was his 20th goal of the campaign, giving him 14 straight seasons with at least 20 goals.

In Montreal, goaltender Curtis Joseph recorded his 300th career victory in the Maple Leafs 5-2 win over the Canadiens. He retired with 454 victories, for six different teams, which are still the seventh-most in NHL history.

After picking up an assist on Kimmo Timonen’s second-period goal, David Legwand scored on a penalty shot in overtime to give the Nashville Predators a 3-2 win at the Rangers. This was the first penalty-shot overtime goal in league history.

Odds & Ends

Two early stars in Montreal history hit personal milestones, on Dec. 23, 1933, in the Canadiens 3-0 win over the Red Wings. Howie Morenz scored his 249th career goal to pass Cy Denneny as the NHL’s all-time leader. Aurel Joliat found the back of the net, as well, to join Morenz as the only players in franchise history to score 200 goals.

Rookie netminder Wayne Rutledge earned the first shutout in franchise history, on Dec. 23, 1967, leading the Kings to a 4-0 win over the Blues. Bryan Campbell led the offense with two goals in the final game played at the Los Angeles Sports Arena before the team began playing their home games at the Forum.

The Winnipeg Jets put an end to the lowest point of their history, on Dec. 23, 1980, when they beat the Colorado Rockies 5-4. This snapped their 30-game winless streak which saw them go 0-23-7 since beating the Blackhawks on Oct. 17, 1980. The team went through three different coaches in between victories.

Wayne Gretzky scored a pair of empty-net goals and added two assists, on Dec. 23, 1988, to seal the Kings’ 5-2 victory against the Vancouver Canucks. The two goals gave him 611 in his career, putting him ahead of Bobby Hull for fourth place on the all-time list.

A pair of personal milestones were reached, on Dec. 23, 1995, in the Maple Leafs 6-1 win over the visiting Oilers. On the ice, Doug Gilmour recorded two assists to become the 44th player in NHL history to score 1,000 points. Behind the bench, head coach Pat Burns earned the 300th win of his career, improving his record to 300-192-79.

Doug Gilmour Toronto Maple Leafs
Gilmour joined the 1,000-point club on this date. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)

Joe Sakic scored his 300th NHL goal, on Dec. 23, 1996, and added an assist to lead the Colorado Avalanche to a 4-3 win against the Calgary Flames. This began a 12-game undefeated streak (9-0-3) for the reigning Stanley Cup champions.

One year later, on Dec. 23, 1997, Jarri Kurri scored his 600th career goal as the Avalanche beat his former team, the Kings, 5-1.

Shane Doan hit two big milestones, on Dec. 23, 2016, in the Coyotes 4-1 loss to the Maple Leafs. While playing in his 1,500th game, all for the Jets/Coyotes franchise, he scored his 400th career goal.

Brock Boeser had the Canucks’ lone goal, on Dec. 23, 2017, in their 3-1 home loss to the Blues. This was his 20th goal of the season, in just 34 games, becoming the fastest rookie in team history to score 20 goals. He finished the season with 29 goals and was second in Calder Trophy voting, losing out on the rookie of the year award to the Islanders’ Mathew Barzal.

Happy Birthday to You

A pair of late Hall of Famers, Denneny and Woody Dumart, headline a group of 20 current and former NHL players born on this date. Other notable names from this bunch are Petr Klima (56), Mikael Samuelsson (44), Brett Clark (44), Ales Kotalik (42), Scott Gomez (41), Johan Franzen (41), Zbynek Michalek (38), T.J. Oshie (34) and Jori Lehtera (33).


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