This date in National Hockey League history included some big names in Montreal and Pittsburgh having huge nights. Plus, some impressive streaks were stopped and started, the league had a Russian invasion and a pair of innovative Hall of Famers were born. Let’s fire up the hockey time machine to take our daily trip throughout the years.
Legends Do Their Thing in Montreal
When they name the trophy given out to the best player at your position after you, then you know you had a tremendous career. Such is the case with Montreal Canadiens’ early goaltending star Georges Vezina. On Dec. 28, 1918, he became the first NHL goaltender to be credited with an assist in a 6-3 win over the Toronto Arenas. Newsy Lalonde scooped up the puck off a Vezina rebound and skated up the ice to deposit it into the opposing net. This was the one and only assist in his Hall of Fame career.
Dec. 28, 1944, was a very long day for Maurice Richard. After spending the day moving his family into a new home, he headed to the Forum to take on Detroit Red Wings. He didn’t let his physical exhaustion get to him as he set an NHL record for the most points in a single game.
After a goal and an assist in the opening frame, he scored three more times and picked up another helper in the second period. He ended the night with one more goal and an assist in the final 20 minutes of the game. His eight points were the most ever scored by one player as the Habs rolled to a 9-1 win. This record stood until Daryl Sittler of the Toronto Maple Leafs scored 10 points on Feb. 7, 1976.
The Rocket wasn’t done on this date. Two years later, on Dec. 28, 1946, he scored his ninth career hat trick and added an assist in an 8-2 victory over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks. Toe Blake chipped in with two goals and two helpers.
Richard was knocked down to third on the NHL’s all-time scoring list, on Dec. 28, 1967. Jean Beliveau recorded four assists in the Canadiens’ 6-2 win over the Minnesota North Stars. The big performance gives him 967 points to put him ahead of his former teammate.
Guy Lafleur scored a goal and added three assists, on Dec. 28, 1974, as the Canadiens won 7-2 over the Kansas City Scouts.
A Huge Date for the Penguins
Before there was Mario Lemieux or Sidney Crosby, Jean Pronovost was the big star for the Pittsburgh Penguins. On Dec. 28, 1974, he scored both goals in a 2-2 tie with the Washington Capitals.
Goaltender Greg Millen extended his personal unbeaten streak to nine games (4-0-5), on Dec. 28, 1979, by leading the Penguins to a 4-2 road victory at the Atlanta Flames.
Tom Barrasso made 27 saves, on Dec. 28, 1990, for a 5-0 shutout over the Red Wings at the Civic Arena. This was his first shutout with the Penguins and the 14th of his NHL career.
Lemieux had a five-point night, on Dec 28, 1995, by picking up a goal and four assists in Pittsburgh’s 9-4 win over the Hartford Whalers. Jaromir Jagr and Tomas Sandstrom each had two goals and two assists in the Penguins’ 900th all-time victory.
One year later, rookie netminder Patrick Lalime recorded his second shutout in three starts, and improved his lifetime record to 6-0-1, as the Penguins won 2-0 over the visiting Buffalo Sabres. Lemieux was the offensive hero by scoring one goal and assisting on the other.
We’re Going Streaking
Al MacInnis extended his team-record assist streak to nine consecutive games, on Dec. 28, 1986, in the Calgary Flames’ 4-1 win at the Sabres. The Hall of Fame defenseman recorded 16 assists during his streak, the longest in Calgary since Kent Nilsson in 1984.
Mats Sundin scored his 20th goal of the season and added an assist, on Dec. 28, 2001, in the Maple Leafs’ 5-4 loss at the Atlanta Thrashers. This marked the 12th straight season with at least 20 goals and gave him 900 points in his career. Ray Ferraro became the 66th player in NHL history to score 400 career goals for the victorious Thrashers.
On Dec. 28, 2010, the Vancouver Canucks beat the Philadelphia Flyers 6-3 at the Rogers Arena. This snapped the Flyers’ 14-game game unbeaten streak in Vancouver. Since Jan. 17, 1989, the Canucks went 0-9-5 when hosting Philadelphia.
David Perron’s overtime goal, on Dec. 29, 2017, gave the Vegas Golden Knights a 3-2 road victory at the Los Angeles Kings. This was the Golden Knights’ sixth win in a row and extended their point streak to 11 straight games. Both streaks were new records for an expansion franchise in their first season.
The Russians Are Coming
The New York Rangers became the first NHL club to play a team from the Soviet Union, on Dec. 28, 1975. The Soviet Red Army national team began its “Super Series” four-game tour through the NHL in front of a full house at Madison Square Garden. The Russians showed their muscle with a 7-3 win over the Rangers. Three nights later, they tied with the Canadiens before wrapping up their visit to the United States by beating the Boston Bruins and losing to the Flyers.
Curt Ridley became the first NHL goaltender to shut out a touring Soviet team, on Dec. 28, 1977, when the Canucks beat Moscow Spartak 2-0. Rick Blight scored both goals for Vancouver.
Igor Larionov scored his second career hat trick in the second period, on Dec 28, 1991, to lead the Canucks to a 3-2 win at the San Jose Sharks. Before coming to the NHL, he spent eight seasons playing professionally in Russia, as well, as suiting up for the national team.
Odds & Ends
Metro Prystai scored two goals and two assists, on Dec. 28, 1950, in the Red Wings’ 8-1 win over the Canadiens. The legendary Gordie Howe had five assists in the big victory.
Dennis Hull became the fifth player to score 250 goals as a member of the Blackhawks, on Dec. 28, 1974, in a 2-1 win over the Flyers.
Marcel Dionne scored his 200th NHL goal, on Dec. 28, 1976, in the Kings’ 8-3 road loss at the North Stars.
On Dec.28, 1981, rookie Tim Hunter became the first Calgary native to play in a game for the Flames. He picked up seven penalty minutes in his NHL debut, a 7-4 home loss to the Flyers. He and Glen Cochrane had minors in the second and majors in the final period.
Paul MacLean scored his 300th NHL goal, on Dec. 28, 1989, in the St. Louis Blues’ 3-2 defeat at the New York Islanders.
John MacLean, no relation to Paul, became the New Jersey Devils all-time scoring leader, on Dec. 28, 1993, with a third-period goal in a 4-2 win over the visiting Hartford Whalers. His goal gave him 258 goals and 263 assists for 521 career points, one more than Kirk Muller.
On that same night, Kevin Dineen scored a goal and added his 300th NHL assist during the Flyers’ 4-4 tie with the rival Penguins.
Scott Niedermayer became just the second defenseman in league history to score seven regular-season overtime goals, on Dec. 28, 2002, in the Devils’ 2-1 win over the visiting Capitals. He tied the record of Rangers’ blueliner Brian Leetch. He scored six more overtime goals before he retired.
Happy Birthday to You
A group of 21 current and former NHL players born on this date is headlined by two high-profile members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Goaltender Terry Sawchuk was born, on Dec. 28, 1929, in Winnipeg. He played 21 NHL seasons with the Red Wings, Bruins, Maple Leafs, Kings and Rangers. He retired after the 1969-70 season with 445 wins and 103 shutouts, both of which were league records at the time. He won three Stanley Cups in Detroit and a fourth one with Toronto in 1967. He died shortly after his retirement after injuries suffered in an accidental fall during a scuffle with a former teammate. The Hall of Fame waived the mandatory three-year waiting period and inducted him in 1971.
Ray Bourque was born in Montreal on this date in 1960. The offensive-minded defenseman won the Calder Trophy for being the rookie of the year in 1980. He won five Norris Trophies with the Bruins for being voted the best blueliner in the league.
After 1,518 games with Boston, he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche in 2000. He finally got to raise the Stanley Cup in 2001 in the final game of his 22-season career. He is still the all-time leader among NHL defensemen with 410 goals, 1,169 assists and 1,579 points.
Other notable Dec. 28 birthday boys are Rob Niedermayer (46), Dave Moss (39), Curtis Glencross (38), Tomas Jurco (28) and the late Hall of Famer Harry Howell.