Nov. 25 has been one heck of an eventful date in National Hockey League history. Two of the greatest goal-scorers to ever play the game had memorable hat tricks while numerous goaltenders stole the show. Also, fans and Detroit and Pittsburgh had plenty to cheer about and a hero made his emotional return to the Big Apple.
A Pair of Special Hat Tricks
Wayne Gretzky’s 1981-82 season was one for the ages as he went from being a star to becoming a legend. He scored 92 goals, 120 assists and 212 points, all of which were NHL records. He eventually broke his own assist and point records, but the 92-goal season is still the best in league history.
On Nov. 25, 1981, he scored four goals and added an assist in the Edmonton’s Oilers 11-4 beating of the Los Angeles Kings. This was Gretzky’s second hat trick of the season and eighth of his career. It gave him 28 goals through the first 24 games. He went on to set another NHL record with 10 hat tricks on the season. He broke the record of nine, set by Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders the previous season. Gretzky matched his own record when he scored another 10 hat tricks in 1983-84.
Another one of the NHL’s all-time greatest goal-scorers, Alex Ovechkin, had a very memorable hat trick on this date. Previous to the Washington Capitals’ game at the Toronto Maple Leafs, on Nov. 25, 2017, he met a big fan, 13-year-old cancer patient Alex Luey. He told the young man that if he scored a goal that night it would be for him.
Ovechkin not only scored a goal for his new friend; he scored his 20th career hat trick in a 4-2 win over the Maple Leafs. He had Luey come down to the visiting locker room after the victory to celebrate with the team.
In addition to making special memories for Luey and his family, Ovechkin became the 16th player in league history to score at least 20 career hat tricks. He also passed Bossy for 21st on the all-time goals list with 574.
A Great Day for Goaltending
There must have been something in the air on this date because there is a long list of great goaltenders who had memorable performances on it through the years.
Lorne Chabot picked up his third consecutive shutout, on Nov. 25, 1933, in the Montreal Canadiens’ 1-0 victory in Toronto. This was the 57th shutout of his career. He retired with 71, which are tied with Harry Lumley for the 12th-most in NHL history.
Turk Broda recorded his 43rd career shutout, on Nov. 25, 1958, in a 2-0 Maple Leafs’ win at the Canadiens. Bill Ezinicki scored a goal and added an assist to lead the offense. The game was a rather testy affair as the two teams set an NHL record with 10 combined major penalties assessed.
On Nov. 25, 1951, Chicago Blackhawks assistant trainer and former NHL goaltender, Moe Roberts, was called into action. He made his first appearance since he was a member of the New York Americans in the 1933-34 season after Lumley was injured and did not come out for the third period. He did not allow a goal in a 5-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Just three weeks shy of his 46th birthday, Roberts is still the oldest goaltender to play in an NHL game.
Two legendary netminders had big nights on this date in 1961. First, in Montreal, Henri Richard scored a goal and added two assists in a Canadiens 5-0 win over the Boston Bruins. Jacques Plante became the 12th goaltender to record 50 career shutouts.
Meanwhile, in Toronto, Johnny Bower recorded his 16th career shutout. Dave Keon was the offensive hero with two goals and two assists in a 6-0 victory over the visiting New York Rangers.
Ken Dryden earned his 22nd career shutout, on Nov. 25, 1975, to lead the Canadiens to a 4-0 win at the Atlanta Flames. He went on to tie his career-high with eight shutouts during the 1975-76 season. He set a new high mark when he posted 10 shutouts in 1976-77. He finished his Hall of Fame career with 46.
Nikolai Khabibulin made 41 saves, on Nov. 25, 2001, to record his second consecutive shutout, and 25th of his career, to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-0 road win at the Carolina Hurricanes. Pavel Kubina and Tim Taylor scored shorthanded goals just 57 seconds apart, during the first period, to get the offense going.
Tons of Red Wings History
This was a very eventful date for the Red Wings through their long and storied history as some of the biggest names in franchise history had grade-A performances.
On Nov. 25, 1944, Murray Armstrong scored twice within a span of 52 seconds in the third period. He also added an assist in the Red Wings’ 7-4 win over the visiting Blackhawks.
Terry Sawchuk got a shutout in his third straight, on Nov. 25, 1954, in a 2-0 win over the Maple Leafs. He earned his 54th career shutout after blanking the Blackhawks in back-to-back games before taking down Toronto.
The Red Wings set a league record, on Nov. 25, 1983, when they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2. A total of 21,019 fans showed up at the Joe Louis Arena, which, at the time, was the largest crowd ever at an NHL game. Kelly Kisio sent the huge crowd home happy with a goal and two assists on the night
Steve Yzerman had an assist, on Nov. 25, 1987, in a 10-8 victory over the visiting Winnipeg Jets. This began a 22-game point streak for Yzerman, setting a new team record. He was finally held off the scoresheet by the Rangers, on Jan. 13, 1982. He had 20 goals and 50 points during his scoring streak.
Goaltender Tim Cheveldae extended his personal unbeaten streak to 10 games (8-0-2), on Nov. 25, 1991, with a 5-4 win over the Capitals. Paul Ysebaert led the charge offensively with two goals and an assist.
On Nov. 25, 1992, the Red Wings beat the St. Louis Blues 11-6, after beating the Lightning 10-5 two nights earlier. This marked the first time in franchise history where they scored double-digit goals in back-to-back games. Dino Ciccarelli was the offensive star on this night with two goals and two assists.
Steel Town Memories
The Penguins and Islanders met for the very first time, on Nov. 25, 1972. Greg Polis scored both Pittsburgh goals in a 2-2 tie.
Mario Lemieux spearheaded a major comeback, on Nov. 25, 1987, with a 6-4 win over the Quebec Nordiques. The Penguins found themselves down 4-0 midway through the second period. Lemieux scored two goals and added two assists as Pittsburgh scored the final six goals of the night.
During their long and bitter rivalry, the Penguins and Capitals have played their fair share of crazy games. On Nov. 25, 1988, the Penguins won 5-3 in a game where all eight goals were scored on special teams. Pittsburgh scored four goals on the power play and added one shorthanded tally, while Washington had three power-play strikes.
Big Nights for Robitaille & Linden
Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille scored his 11th career hat trick with four goals, on Nov. 25, 1993, in the Kings’ 8-6 loss at the Nordiques. Quebec captain led the home squad with two goals and two assists.
Trevor Linden had two assists, on Nov. 25, 1998, to hit the 600-plateau in his career. Goaltender Tommy Salo stopped all 44 shots he faced in the Islanders’ 2-0 shutout of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Both players hit major milestones, on Nov. 25, 2002. Robitaille, now a member of the Red Wings, became the 22nd player in league history to score 1,300 career points. He hit this mark with a goal in a 5-4 loss to the Oilers.
Linden scored a goal in the Vancouver Canucks’ 2-1 victory at the Minnesota Wild to become the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. The goal was his 263rd with the team, passing Stan Smyl. He retired with 318 goals, which are the third-most in team history behind Daniel Sedin (393) and Markus Naslund (346).
Odds & Ends
The Philadelphia Quakers found the win column for the first time ever, on Nov. 25, 1930, by beating the Maple Leafs 2-1. This was something that only happened four times as they finished their one and only NHL season with a 4-36-4 record.
On Nov. 25, 1954, Bill Mosienko became the first player in Blackhawks’ history, and the sixth in NHL history, to score 250 goals. His milestone came during a 3-2 loss to the visiting Canadiens.
After being kept off the scoresheet on the opening night of the 1981-82 season, Kings’ forward Dave Taylor picked up at least one point in the next 20 games. He extended his team-record 21-game point streak, on Nov. 25, 1981, with three assists in the 11-4 loss to the Oilers mentioned earlier. His streak came to an end the following night in a 7-1 loss to the Calgary Flames.
Mark Messier made his return to Madison Square Garden, on Nov. 25, 1997, since signing with the Canucks the previous July. The tough veteran was brought to tears on the bench during a touching video tribute. He later scored a breakaway goal and was named the First Star of the night in Vancouver’s 4-2 win over the Rangers.
Scott Stevens made history, on Nov. 25, 2003, in the Devils 4-0 win at the Kings. This was his 1,615th career NHL game, tying him with former King, Larry Murphy, for the most played by a defenseman.
Happy Birthday to You
A group of 18 current and former NHL players have been born on this date. The best of the bunch are Bob Kelly (70), Mike O’ Connell (65), Jeff Norton (55), Magnus Arvedson (49), John Michael Liles (40), Philipp Grubauer (29), Marcus Hogberg (26) and the late Hall of Famer Eddie Shore.
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.