The two top players of their generation both had multiple big nights on this date in National Hockey League history. The Windy City saw plenty of big moments plus one of its greatest goaltenders had two big days before and after he played there. In addition, there were some rarities to occur, both on the ice and behind the bench.
A Dynamic Three-Year Run for Gretzky
For three straight years in the mid-1980s, Wayne Gretzky owned this date. Starting on Dec. 5, 1984, when he had a goal and four assists in the Edmonton Oilers’ beat the New York Islanders 6-4. Jari Kurri scored the 12th hat trick of his career and added two assists to complete a five-point night.
One year later, Gretzky picked up five assists as the Oilers skated to a 6-6 tie with his future team, the Los Angeles Kings.
Finally, on Dec. 5, 1986, the Great One picked up three assists, in the Oilers 4-2 road win at the Pittsburgh Penguins, to become the fifth player in NHL history to score 1,400 points. He was the fastest player to join the 1,400-point club, needing just 580 games. He needed just 40 games after this to hit the 1,500-point plateau.
Lemieux Goes Shark Hunting
In back-to-back years, Mario Lemieux absolutely owned the San Jose Sharks. He scored two goals and had four assists, on Dec. 5, 1991, in the Penguins’ 8-0 win at the Sharks. Kevin Stevens scored three goals for his fourth hat trick in the last 10 games. The Sharks had to use three different goaltenders in the loss. Starter Jeff Hackett and his backup, Arturs Irbe, both got injured so Brian Hayward had to come out of the stands to finish off the game.
Exactly one year later, the Penguins traveled west to San Jose to take on the Sharks again. Lemieux was an assist machine in a seven-point night with a goal and six helpers as Pittsburgh rolled to a 9-4 win. The Sharks only used one goaltender on this night as Hayward started and allowed all nine goals against.
A Banner Day for the Blackhawks
Glenn Hall became the first goaltender in Chicago Blackhawks’ history to record 150 wins, on Dec. 5, 1962, in a 5-4 victory against the visiting Boston Bruins. Ab McDonald led the offensive attack with two goals and an assist.
Three years later, on Dec. 5, 1965, Stan Mikita scored three goals and added an assist to lead the Blackhawks to a 6-2 win at the New York Rangers. This was the seventh hat trick of his career and his second within the last 24 hours as he scored three times the previous night in a 10-1 win over the Bruins.
Bobby Hull began a team-record 21 game point scoring streak, on Dec. 5, 1971, in the Blackhawks’ 7-0 win over the visiting Kings. This record stayed intact for almost 44 years until Patrick Kane tied it on Dec. 3, 2015.
The Blackhawks made one of the greatest trades in franchise history, on Dec. 5, 2005, when they sent Matt Ellison and a third-round draft pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for a relatively unknown forward named Patrick Sharp.
In his 10 seasons in Chicago, Sharp became a star and a very important contributor in three Stanley Cup championships. He scored 239 goals and 512 points in 679 games during his first stint with the Blackhawks. The Flyers got one assist in seven total games from Ellison. They traded the draft pick to the Montreal Canadiens, who used it to draft Ryan White, who, ironically, eventually played for the Flyers.
Ups & Downs for Esposito
Before goaltender Tony Esposito became a Hall of Famer with the Blackhawks, he played 13 games for the Canadiens during the 1968-69 season. On Dec. 5, 1968, he made his first NHL start and made 33 saves in a 3-3 draw with the Bruins. The only two goals allowed were by his older brother Phil, who spoiled the night by tying the game in the third period with his second tally of the night.
The news was not quite as good, on Dec. 5, 1989, when Esposito was fired as general manager of the Penguins, along with head coach Gene Ubriaco. The Penguins replaced them both with Craig Patrick. Esposito only held the job for about 20 months and the team had a winning record under his leadership. However, Patrick was responsible for putting together the teams around Lemieux that won the Stanly Cup in 1991 and 1992. He remained as general manager at the end of the 2005-06 season.
Rarities in Philadelphia
The Flyers completed a pair of rare goals on this date, over a decade apart. On Dec. 5, 1991, defenseman Terry Carkner scored a goal while on a two-man disadvantage in a 6-3 win over the Washington Capitals. This was the first time the Capitals ever gave up a goal while on a 5-on-3 power play.
On Dec. 6, 2002, Michal Handzus became just the second player in league history to score on a penalty shot in overtime. After being pulled down by Rangers defenseman Tom Poti, he beat goaltender Dan Blackburn to give the Flyers a 3-2 win.
The Fabulous 30s
George Hainsworth recorded his 63rd career shutout, on Dec. 5, 1931, as the Canadiens beat the visiting Detroit Falcons 4-0. This tied him with Alec Connell of the Ottawa Senators for the most shutouts in NHL history, at the time.
Another early Canadiens star, Aurel Joliat, became the third player in league history to score 250 career goals, on Dec. 5, 1936, in Montreal’s 4-3 win over the visiting Bruins.
Eddie Shore played in his final game for the Bruins, on Dec. 6, 1939, and scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory over the New York Americans. He was eventually traded to the Americans in January of 1940 and played his final 10 NHL games for them.
Odds & Ends
Dave Keon scored two goals and added four assists, on Dec. 5, 1964, to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 10-2 win against the visiting Red Wings. Eight years later, on Dec. 5, 1972, he became the first player in franchise history, and 17th in NHL history, to score 300 goals. The milestone came in a 5-2 win at the Vancouver Canucks.
Steve Vickers became the eighth player in Rangers’ franchise history to score 200 goals, on Dec. 5, 1979, in a 3-3 tie with the Blackhawks.
Two years later, on Dec. 5, 1981, 18-year-old rookie goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck made his NHL debut and led the Rangers’ to a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
American Hockey League goaltender Darcy Wakaluk shot and scored a goal into an empty net at 19:59 of the third period, on Dec. 5, 1987, to give the Rochester Americans a 5-2 win over the Utica Devils.
Steve Yzerman set a new team record with a goal in his ninth straight game, on Dec. 5, 1988, a 7-2 Red Wings’ loss in Montreal. He broke the team record of goals in eight straight games set by Gordie Howe in 1952.
Mike Vernon became the second goaltender in Calgary Flame’s history to record 150 wins, on Dec. 5, 1990, in a 4-1 victory over the Rangers. Theoren Fleury led the offense with the first hat trick of his career.
On Dec. 5, 1992, the Red Wings beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 9-7, in a crazy game. Yzerman scored two goals and added three assists while his teammate Steve Chiasson chipped in with four helpers. Brian Bradley scored his first-ever hat trick and added an assist in the losing effort.
Mike Keenan made his head coaching debut with the Florida Panthers, on Dec. 5, 2001, and led them to a 2-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. He became just the second head coach in NHL history to be behind the bench for seven different teams.
Veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar scored a goal, on Dec. 5, 2014, during the Canadiens’ 4-3 loss at the Blackhawks. The 40-year-old blueliner became the oldest player to ever score for Montreal in their long and storied history.
Happy Birthday to You
A total of 19 players who have skated in at least one NHL game have been born on this date. The most successful of the birthday boys are Kevin Haller (50), Olli Jokinen (42), Niklas Hagman (41), Cam Fowler (29), Nathan Beaulieu (28), Nick Ritchie (25) and Nic Hague (22).
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.