This date in National Hockey League history has seen a little bit of everything. There were a handful of firsts throughout the league, from first goals to first overtime wins. Some all-time greats racked up hat tricks while some others reached personal milestones and set new records.
A Historic Date in Boston
Just two days after making their NHL debut, the Boston Bruins played their first road game in team history, on Dec. 3, 1924, a 5-3 loss at the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Five years later, on Dec. 3, 1929, the Bruins beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 to start a pair of record-breaking winning streaks. This was both their first of 14 straight wins and 22 wins in a row on home ice. Their 14-game overall winning streak was the NHL record until the New York Islanders won 15 games in a row during their championship season of 1981-82. The 22-game home winning stayed intact un 2011-12 when the Detroit Red Wings won 23 consecutive games at the Joe Louis Arena
Fans who were in attendance at the Boston Garden, on Dec. 3, 1987, were treated to a moment they should never forget. The team retired Phil Esposito’s No. 7 during a pregame ceremony. Defenseman Ray Bourque, who had worn No. 7 since his rookie season, skated to center ice. He then removed his jersey to reveal he had switched to No. 77. He went on to pick an assist in a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers, who Esposito was the general manager of at the time.
A decade later, on Dec. 3, 1997, Joe Thornton, who was the first overall pick of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, scored his first career goal in a 3-0 win at the Philadelphia Flyers Goaltender Byron Dafoe earned the fourth shutout of his career.
Stevie Y’s Huge Day
Red Wings legend and longtime captain, Steve Yzerman, loved playing on this date during his career. On Dec. 3, 1988, he scored a goal for the eighth straight game to tie the team record set by Gordie Howe during the 1951-52 season. The goal helped Detroit beat the Quebec Nordiques 6-4.
The following year, on Dec. 3, 1989, Yzerman became the fifth player in franchise history to score 600 points with two power-play goals and an assist in a 4-3 win at the Chicago Blackhawks.
Finally, on Dec. 3, 1991, Yzerman scored his 13th NHL hat trick and added an assist in a Red Wings’ 5-2 victory over the Calgary Flames. Ray Sheppard also scored his 100th career goal in the winning effort.
Throw Your Hats
On Dec. 3, 1982, Steve Tambellini scored the first hat trick in New Jersey Devils’ franchise history since relocating from Colorado. His first NHL hat track led the Devils to a 5-4 home win over the Hartford Whalers.
Dave Andreychuk scored the 100th hat trick in Buffalo Sabres team history, on Dec. 3, 1987, in a 6-3 win versus the Nordiques at the Memorial Auditorium. This was the second of his 11 regular-season hat tricks during his 23-season NHL career.
Pavel Bure lit the lamp three times, on Dec. 3. 2002, to lead the Rangers to a 5-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. This was the 20th and final regular-season hat trick for Bure and his only one the Blue Shirts.
Three years later, on Dec. 2005, another future Hall of Famer scored his only hat trick for the Rangers. Brendan Shanahan scored three goals in a 7-4 loss to the Islanders. He scored 18 hat tricks during his 21-season career.
Odds & Ends
George Armstrong made his Maple Leafs debut, on Dec. 3, 1949, starting his 21-season career in Toronto. He played in a team-record 1,188 games, scoring 296 goals and 713 points before retiring in 1971. He was the captain of the four championship teams of the 1960s.
Frank Mahovlich scored a power-play goal, on Dec. 3, 1970, during the Red Wings’ 4-4 tie with the Los Angeles Kings. His tally made him the sixth player in NHL history to score 400 career goals.
Bobby Clarke became the second player ever to score 350 goals as a member of the Flyers, on Dec. 3, 1983, in a 6-3 win at the rival Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Islanders beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-4, on Dec. 3, 1984, to earn their 500th win in franchise history. The milestone win came in their 980th game. The only team to win 500 games faster were the Bruins, who needed 976 games to accomplish this feat.
On Dec. 3, 1991, Brian Mullen’s goal in extra time gave the San Jose Sharks their first-ever overtime victory. The 3-2 win over the Kings extended their unbeaten streak to four games (3-0-1).
Mats Sundin scored a goal and an assist in the first period for his 500th career point, on Dec. 3, 1996, when the Maple Leafs beat the visiting St. Louis Blues 2-0. Rookie goaltender Marcel Cousineau and Felix Potvin shared the shutout.
Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists, on Dec. 3, 2015, in the Blackhawks’ 4-3 overtime loss at the Ottawa Senators. This was the 21st game in a row with at least one point for Kane, tying Bobby Hull for the longest point streak in team history.
Happy Birthday to You
A total of 14 current and former NHL players have been born on this date. The most notable names of this small group are Bob MacMillan (68), Mike Ramsey (60), Igor Larionov (60), Tom Preissing (42), Julius Honka (25) and Rasmus Asplund (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.