Today in Hockey History: Jan. 20

Two of the greatest players who ever skated in the National Hockey League had memorable performances on this date. Plus, the number 1,000 was a reoccurring theme, a shortened season began and a dynamic duo in Chicago hit a pair of personal milestones. Let’s take our daily trip back through time and relive the best hockey moments from Jan. 20.

Gretzky & Lemieux Make More History

Nowadays, fans have plenty of players to debate about when it comes to who is the best player in the NHL. Is it Connor McDavid? Is it Nathan MacKinnon? Is it Auston Matthews? Back in the late 80s and early 90s, there were only two players in this discussion; Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

Gretzky scored three goals and added two assists, on Jan. 20, 1982, to lead the Edmonton Oilers to an 8-6 win over the visiting St. Louis Blues. This was his sixth hat trick of the season and 12th of his career. He became the first player in league history to score 12 hat tricks before his 21st birthday.

Wayne Gretzky #99 of the Edmonton Oilers
Gretzky loved to score in bunches. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Lemieux had his big night, on Jan. 20, 1989, as he scored his 50th goal of the season in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 7-3 loss at the Winnipeg Jets. He needed just 44 games to hit this plateau, joining Gretzky as the only player to score 50 goals in less than 50 games. The Great One did it three times in his career.

The goal was also Lemieux’s 637th career point, putting him ahead of Rick Kehoe for the most points in franchise history. He needed just 336 games to break Kehoe’s record, which he set in 722 games. Lemieux finished the 1988-89 season with 85 goals and 199 points. The 85 goals are still the fourth-most for a single season in league history and his 199-point season is the highest ever by a player not named Gretzky.

A Grand Ole Day

The number 1,000 came up big for three current members of the Hockey Hall of Fame and one player who will be joining them soon.

Starting on Jan. 20, 1983, when Darryl Sittler became the 17th player in league history to score 1,000 career points. He scored a goal and added an assist to help the Philadelphia Flyers to a 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames. This milestone came exactly one year after he was traded to the Flyers by the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team he scored the first 916 points of his career with.

Steve Yzerman became the ninth NHL player to ever record 1,000 career assists, as Mathieu Dandenault scored in overtime to give the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 victory against the Ottawa Senators.

Patrick Roy became the first goaltender in league history to play in 1,000 regular-season games, on Jan. 20, 2003, as the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars tied 1-1. He is third all-time with 1,044 games played as he was passed up by Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo.

Henrik Sedin’s goal was the difference-maker, on Jan. 20, 2017, in the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 win over the visiting Florida Panthers. This made him the 85th player in the history of the league to rack up 1,000 career points. He was the 35th player to score 1,000 points with one team and the fourth Swedish-born player to accomplish this feat.

Kane & Toews Do Their Thing

The United Center currently has statues of Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita outside of its entrance. It will likely have to make some more room for the duo of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews after they hang up their skates.

Kane factored into all of the Chicago Blackhawk offense, on Jan. 20, 2018, in their 7-3 loss to the New York Islanders. His two goals and an assist gave him 800 points in his career, becoming just the fifth player to hit this milestone with the team.

Patrick Kane Jonathan Toews Blackhawks
Kane & Toews are two of the best ever in Chicago. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Exactly one year later, Toews scored his sixth career hat trick as the Blackhawks beat the Washington Capitals 8-5. His three-goal night made him the 12th player in league history to score at least 20 in each of his first 12 seasons in the league. He is the fourth player in team history to do this, along with Kane, Hull and Mikita. He capped off his huge game with two assists for his third five-point NHL game.

1994-95 Season Finally Begins

After an extended lockout over labor disputes, the 48-game 1994-95 regular season finally got underway on Jan. 20, 1995.

Head coach Mike Keenan, who led the New York Rangers to the 1994 Stanley Cup, made his debut behind the bench for the St. Louis Blues. Brett Hull was one of two players with four points as he scored two goals and picked up two assists. The other was Adam Creighton who had a goal and three helpers in the Blues’ 5-2 win at the San Jose Sharks.

Brett Hull
Hull helped Keenan get his first win in St. Louis. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Future Hall of Famer Paul Kariya made his NHL debut for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim on this night. He was held off the scoresheet in a 2-1 loss at the Oilers. He scored 18 goals and 39 points in 47 games and finished second to Peter Forsberg in Calder Trophy voting, for the rookie of the year award.

All-Star Game Moments

Gordie Howe scored his record 10th and final All-Star Game goal, on Jan. 20, 1970, as the Eastern Conference beat the Western Conference 4-1, in St. Louis. Bobby Hull was named the game’s most valuable player with a goal and an assist.

Bobby Hull Gordie Howe
Hull & Howe played in a lot of All-Star Games together. (THW Archives)

The Spectrum in Philadelphia was the host of the NHL All-Star Game, on this date in 1976. Pete Mahovlich, of the Montreal Canadiens, scored a goal and added three assists to earn MVP honors in a 7-5 Wales Conference win over the Campbell Conference.

Boston Bruins’ defenseman Ray Bourque scored with 37.3 seconds remaining in regulation, on Jan. 20, 1996, to give the East a 5-4 win over the West. The goal thrilled the hometown crowd as Boston’s brand new FleetCenter hosted the 46th edition of the All-Star Game. Bourque took home MVP honors for his late-game heroics.

Odds & Ends

A record crowd of 19,749 packed the Chicago Stadium, on Jan. 20, 1946, as the Blackhawks hosted the New York Rangers. They were treated to a 9-1 blowout win for the home team thanks, in part, to Max Bentley’s fourth career hat trick.

Brothers Johnny and Larry Wilson faced each other from behind the bench, on Jan. 20, 1977, as the Red Wings hosted the Colorado Rockies. This was just the third time in league history where a pair of brothers coached against one another. Johnny’s Rockies came out ahead with a 3-1 road victory over Larry’s Red Wings.

Clark Gillies scored his 200th career goal and added two assists, on Jan. 20, 1981, as the Islanders beat the Calgary Flames 5-0. Goaltender Glenn Resch earned the 25th shutout of his career. Gillies joined Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier as the only players to score 200 goals in an Islanders uniform.

The Los Angeles Kings traded Bernie Nicholls to the Rangers, on Jan. 20, 1990, in exchange for Tomas Sandstrom and Tony Granato. Nicholls played the first 602 games of his career with the Kings, scoring 327 goals and 758 points.

Mike Modano was credited with an assist for his 700th NHL point, on Jan. 20, 1999, in the Stars’ 6-4 loss to the visiting Maple Leafs.

On that same night, Pavel Bure scored twice in his Panthers debut as Florida won 5-2 at the Islanders. Two years later, on Jan. 20, 2001, Bure scored twice to give him 350 career goals as the Panthers lost 5-3 at the Philadelphia Flyers.

Scott Clemmensen became the 16th goalie in modern history to record a shutout in his first career start, on Jan. 20, 2004, as the New Jersey Devils beat the Penguins 3-0. Turner Stevenson scored two of the goals and assisted on the third, which was the 200th of Jeff Friesen’s career.

Happy Birthday to You

A total of 27 current and former NHL players share a Jan. 20 birthday. The most notable of this bunch are Dick Tarnstrom (46), Ryan Reaves (34), Sean Kuraly (28), Anthony Stolarz (27), Hampus Lindholm (27), and the late Lou Fontinato.

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