Jan. 6 has not been the busiest of dates in the history of the National Hockey League, but there is still plenty of moments to look back on. The number 1,000 was big on this date and the men between the pipes dominated. Let’s fire up the hockey time machine and begin our daily journey through the decades.
A Grand Ole Time
George Armstrong played in the 1,000th game of his NHL career, on Jan. 6, 1968, and picked up an assist in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 3-3 tie with the Boston Bruins. He became the 12th player in league history to appear in 1,000 games and the second to do so with the Maple Leafs. The Hall of Fame winger retired in 1971 after 1,188 games, which are still the most in franchise history.
On Jan. 6, 1993, Wayne Gretzky made his season debut for the Los Angeles Kings after missing the first 38 games due to a herniated disk in his back. He picked up an assist in a 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, in his 1,000th career game. Despite missing nearly half the season, he finished with 16 goals and 65 points in 45 games. He had a magical run in the 1993 postseason, scoring 15 goals and 40 points in 24 games, leading the Kings to their first-ever Stanley Cup Final appearance.
Patrik Elias hit a pair of personal milestones, on Jan. 6, 2015, while helping the New Jersey Devils beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1. He picked up his 600th career assist which made him the 82nd NHL player to score 1,000 career points.
Great Feats in Goaltending
Johnny Bower became the fourth goaltender in Maple Leafs franchise history to win 100 games, on Jan. 6, 1962, with a 6-3 victory over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks. His 219 wins with the team are still the second-most on Toronto’s all-time list behind Turk Broda’s 304.
One year later, Jacques Plante became the first goaltender to win 300 games with the Montreal Canadiens with a 6-0 shutout over the New York Rangers He was just the fourth netminder to join the 300-win club.
Rookie goalie Ron Hextall recorded his first career shutout, on Jan. 6, 1987, as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Devils 4-0, at the Spectrum. He finished his career with 23 shutouts, 18 of which came with the Flyers.
Curtis Joseph became the second netminder in St. Louis Blues’ history to win 100 games, on Jan. 6, 1994. His milestone came with a 2-1 victory over the Hartford Whalers, in a neutral-site game played in Cleveland, OH.
In his first game in his former home arena, on Jan. 6, 2002, Nikolai Khabibulin led the Lightning to a 3-0 win over the Phoenix Coyotes. This was his sixth shutout of the season, setting a new franchise record. He broke the old record of five shutouts set by Daren Puppa during the 1995-96 season.
On that same night, Patrick Lalime became the first goaltender to win 100 games as a member of the Ottawa Senators, in a 5-2 road victory at the Rangers. His 146 wins are still the second-most in team history, behind the 202 by Craig Anderson.
Semyon Varlamov bailed out his teammates, on Jan. 6, 2015, in the Colorado Avalanche’s 2-0 win at the Blackhawks. The home team put 54 shots on goal, but the Russian-born netminder kept them all out of his net. The 54 saves were the most made in a regular-season road shutout since the NHL began counting shots on goal at the start of the 1955-56 season.
Henrik Lundqvist came up big, on Jan. 6, 2018, as the Rangers beat the Coyotes 5-4 in a shootout. He made 37 saves in regulation and overtime before stopping all three shootout attempts for the 424th NHL win of his career. This put him ahead of the legendary Tony Esposito for eighth place on the league’s all-time wins list.
Odds & Ends
Ted Kennedy came out of retirement, on Jan. 6, 1957, and returned to the Maple Leafs after hanging up his skates following the 1954-55 season. He went on the score six goals and 22 points in the final 30 games of his NHL career.
Vic Hadfield became the fifth player to score 250 goals as a member of the Rangers, on Jan. 6, 1974, in a 5-2 win over the visiting Atlanta Flames. Since this date, two more players have joined the 250-goal club in New York.
Bill Barber and Rick MacLeish scored in the third period, on Jan. 6, 1980, to give the Flyers a 4-2 win at the Sabres. The victory extended the team’s NHL-record 35-game unbeaten streak which saw them go 25-0-10.
One year later, on Jan. 6, 1981, John Tonelli scored five goals to tie a team record in the New York Islanders’ 6-3 defeat of the Maple Leafs. Mike Bossy, who spent most of his career scoring goals, embraced the role of playmaker on this night. He assisted on all six Islanders’ goals, setting a new team record for the most helpers in one game.
Rookie and future Hall of Famer, Guy Carbonneau, scored his first career hat trick, on Jan. 6, 1983, as the Canadiens beat the Kings 11-3. This was just one of two hat tricks he had during his 19-season NHL career.
Ray Bourque scored a goal and added three assists on the Bruins’ first four goals, on Jan. 6, 1994, to lead them to a 5-4 win over the Winnipeg Jets. After assisting on all five goals in Boston’s previous game, this gave him points on nine straight goals for this team.
Larry Murphy had a pair of assists, on Jan. 6, 2000, in the Detroit Red Wings’ 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators. This made him just the third defenseman in league history to record 900 career assists. Steve Yzerman led the scoring with a goal and three assists.
Rob Blake scored his 100th career power-play goal, on Jan. 6, 2004, in the Avalanche’s 6-0 victory over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets. Goaltender David Aebischer made 35 saves to earn the ninth shutout of his career.
Happy Birthday to You
A total of 28 current and former NHL players were born on this date, headlined by the late Hall of Famers Carl Voss and Dickie Moore. Other notable Jan. 6 birthday boys are Keith Crowder (62), Paul Reinhart (61), Richard Zednik (45), Adam Burish (38), Brett Kulak (27) and Will Butcher (26).