Today in Hockey History: Nov. 4

Two Hockey Hall of Famers tried to be only the second player ever to accomplish a very impressive feat in the same game. Also, there were numerous National Hockey League greats who hit personal milestones. Plus, there were many great memories in New York, Anaheim and for both teams in Pennsylvania.

Gretzky Wins the Race to 1,000

When the Edmonton Oilers hosted the New York Rangers, on Nov. 4, 1987, two of the greatest offensive players in the history of the game were chasing the same milestone. Both Wayne Gretzky and Marcel Dionne entered the night with 998 career assists.

Gretzky scored a hat trick and picked up two helpers to become just the second player in NHL history to record 1,000 assists. The five-point performance led the Oilers to a 7-2 victory. Dionne had an assist on one of the Rangers’ goals and joined Gretzky and Gordie Howe in the 1,000-assist club three nights later.

Multiple Hits on Broadway

Nov. 4 has been a memorable date for the Rangers. On this date in 1977, Phil Esposito joined Howe and Bobby Hull as the only players to ever score 600 NHL goals. He reached this milestone with a power-play goal in a 5-1 victory at the Vancouver Canucks. Greg Polis scored two shorthanded goals to set a Rangers’ team record in the win.

On Nov. 4, 1991, goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck recorded his 11th career shutout to lead the Rangers to a 4-0 win over the Calgary Flames. This was New York’s first shutout of the Flames in nearly 19 years. Their previous one came back on Feb. 4, 1973, when the Flames were still in Atlanta.

Theoren Fleury became the 60th player in NHL history to score 400 career goals, on Nov. 4, 2000, as the Rangers earned a 5-2 road win at the Montreal Canadiens. Fleury scored 69 of his 455 career goals in a Rangers uniform.

Mark Messier scored a pair of goals, on Nov. 4, 2003, in a 3-0 win over the Dallas Stars at Madison Square Garden. These two goals gave him 1,851 points, moving him past Howe for second place, behind Gretzky, on the NHL’s all-time scoring list.

A Plethora of Personal Achievements

On Nov. 4, 1962, veteran Bill Gadsby picked up an assist to help the Detroit Red Wings beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1. He became the first defenseman in the history of the league to score 500 points. In the 58 years since 69 more NHL blueliners have scored at least 500 career points.

Gadsby started his Hall of Fame career with the Blackhawks. (THW Archives)

Wayne Cashman scored two power-play goals, including the 200th goal of his NHL career, on Nov. 4, 1978, in a 7-3 Boston Bruins’ loss to the visiting Philadelphia Flyers. He scored a total of 277 goals during his 17-season career with the Bruins.

Dionne may not have picked up his 1,000th career assist on this date, but, on Nov. 4, 1979, he scored a hat trick to become the second player to ever score 200 goals for the Los Angeles Kings. He also added a pair of assists in a 5-3 win at the Blackhawks. Dave Taylor assisted on all five Los Angeles goals.  

Denis Potvin picked up his 684th career assist, on Nov. 4, 1986, making him the all-time assist leader for NHL defensemen, surpassing the mark held by Brad Park. He broke the record in the New York Islanders’ 7-1 blowout of the visiting Washington Capitals.

Denis Potvin New York Islanders
Potvin was one of the greatest blueliners of all time. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Cam Neely scored his ninth career hat trick, on Nov. 4, 1993, to give him 300 NHL goals. He also became the ninth player to score 250 goals as a member of the Bruins. His milestones came in a 6-3 victory versus the Flames.

On Nov. 4, 1995, Pierre Turgeon picked up his 700th career point with an assist. Rookie Saku Koivu had a goal and two assists, as the Canadiens beat the Bruins 4-1, at the Forum.

Dino Ciccarelli scored twice, on Nov. 5, 1996, to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning past the Rangers 5-3. This gave him 561 career goals, moving him ahead of Canadiens’ Hall of Famer Guy LaFleur for 10th all-time. Ciccarelli retired with 608 goals, which are currently the 19th-most in league history.

Adam Oates picked up his 800th career assist, on Nov. 4, 1998, in the Capitals’ 5-2 loss to the Lightning. He finished his career with 1,079 assists, which has him eighth on the all-time helpers list. He was passed by Joe Thornton during the 2019-20 season.

Speaking of the Capitals, on Nov. 4, 2014, Alex Ovechkin recorded to assists to become the franchise’s all-time scoring leader with 827 points. He broke the old record held by Peter Bondra in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Flames.

Franchise Firsts in Pennsylvania

Both of the NHL’s teams in Pennsylvania did something for the very first time on this date in 1967, the inaugural season for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Flyers.

The Penguins were on the west coast that night as they took on the Oakland Seals. Goaltender Lee Brinkley stopped all 31 shots he faced to earn the first shutout in franchise history. Billy Dea scored the only goal in a 1-0 Penguins’ road win.

In Montreal, Leon Rochefort scored his first career hat trick, as well as, the first in Flyers’ history, in a 4-1 win over the Canadiens. Future Hall of Fame goaltender Bernie Parent earned his first win as a member of the Flyers.

Ducks Fly High

On Nov. 4, 2001, goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere recorded his fifth career shutout in the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim’s 5-0 win over the Atlanta Thrashers. Future Stanley Cup-winning head coach, Dan Bylsma, had his first career two-game goal, including the first game-winning goal he ever scored in the NHL.

Andrew Cogliano became just the fourth player in NHL history to play in 800 consecutive games, on Nov. 4, 2017, in the Ducks’ 2-1 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks. He is just the second player to have such a streak to start his career. The other was Doug Jarvis, who has the longest “ironman” streak ever with 964 straight games played. Cogliano played in 30 more games before his streak was forced to come to an end after earning a two-game suspension.

Andrew Cogliano, Anaheim Ducks
Cogliano started his career with 830 straight games. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Exactly one year later, Cam Fowler scored his first career hat trick when he scored in overtime to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2. He became just the seventh defenseman in league history to score a regular-season hat trick that included an overtime tally. The was the third member of the Ducks to accomplish this feat, joining Lubomir Visnovksky (2011) and Hampus Lindholm (2017).

Odds & Ends

The Kings traded Dale Hoganson, Dennis DeJordy, Noel Price and Doug Robinson, on Nov. 4, 1971, to the Canadiens in exchange for goaltender Rogie Vachon. The high price was worth it as Vachon played in 389 games for the Kings over the next seven seasons. His 171 wins are the second-most in franchise history behind Jonathan Quick.

Later that night, Bruins’ rookie Reggie Leach scored the first two goals of his NHL career in a 6-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. He went on to score 381 goals with the Bruins, Seals, Flyers and Red Wings over 13 seasons.

Ken Dryden against Reggie Leach
Leach had much of his success with the Flyers. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

One year later, Leach’s future teammate in Philadelphia, Bill Barber, scored his first career goal and added three assists to lead the Flyers to a 5-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. He spent his entire 12-season career with the Flyers and his 420 goals are still the most in team history.

On Nov. 04, 1983, the Canadiens traded defenseman Robert Picard to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a third-round pick in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft. Montreal used that pick to select legendary goaltender Patrick Roy. Picard had 20 goals and 63 points in his 160 games for the Jets before he was traded to the Quebec Nordiques in 1985.

Patrick Roy of the Montreal Canadiens
Canadiens made one of their best trades in team history on this date in 1983. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Following their seventh straight loss, on Nov. 4, 1997, the Canucks fired general manager Pat Quinn. He had held the job since June 1, 1987. No replacement was named at first, but head coach Mike Keenan was named as acting general manager 10 days later. He had that job title until Brian Burke was hired following the season.

Mike Vernon stopped all 21 shots he faced, on Nov. 4, 1998, to lead the Sharks to a 4-0 win over the Stars. San Jose scored four goals and just nine shots, which were the fewest ever totaled by a winning team since shots on goal were officially counted start in the 1955-56 season.

The Blue Jackets beat the Canadiens 10-0, on Nov. 4, 2016, to hit double digits in goals for the first time in franchise history. Cam Atkinson, Nick Foligno and Scott Hartnell each netted a pair of goals in the route. This was the fourth time Montreal had been defeated 10-0 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 best of this crop are three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Howie Meeker (97), goaltender Corey Schwab (50) and two-time Stanley Cup winner Dustin Brown (36).


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