Oct. 12 was another very busy date in National Hockey League history. The laundry list of milestones occurring on this date includes two teams getting their first-ever wins, a bunch of first goals, some great goaltending and the 100,000th goal ever scored in NHL play.
Two Teams Score First Victory
After losing their NHL debut to the Atlanta Flames, the New York Islanders were back at it, on Oct. 12, 1972, hosting the Los Angeles Kings. Germain Gagnon broke a 2-2 tie to give the Islanders a late lead. New York hung on for the final 69 seconds to earn their first-ever win in franchise history. Billy Harris, who was the first overall pick of the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft, had the first two goals for the Islanders.
The Columbus Blue Jackets had a rough start to their franchise history. They headed into their first-ever road game, on Oct. 12, 2000, at the Calgary Flames with an 0-2-0 record. They lost their first to games against the Chicago Blackhawks and Kings by a combined scored of 12-4.
Rostislav Klesla gave the Blue Jackets an early 1-0 before Kevyn Adams doubled the lead less than four minutes later. The Flames fought back to even up the score heading into the third period. Adams struck for his second goal of the night in the final frame to give Columbus their first win. Goaltender Ron Tugnutt made 19 saves to pick up a victory for the seventh different team in his career.
NHL Firsts are the Theme
On Oct. 12, 1974, Larry Sacharuk became the first defenseman in St. Louis Blues history to score a hat trick. It came in the Blues’ opening night 5-3 win at the Vancouver Canucks, which ended a team-record 16-game road winless streak (0-13-3), dating back to the previous season.
Buffalo Sabres’ forward Danny Gare scored the first hat trick of his NHL career, on Oct. 12, 1975. Don Luce also had a goal and three assists as the Sabres beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 8-3 win.
One of the all-time greats in Kings’ history, Dave Taylor, made his league debut on Oct. 12, 1977. He was held off the scoresheet, but Rogie Vachon recorded his 42nd career shutout in a 2-0 win over the Cleveland Barons.
On that same night, Johnny Wilson became the first man in league history to coach four different NHL teams when he made his debut behind the bench of the Pittsburgh Penguins. His first game with the Penguins was successful as they beat the Blues 4-2.
Future Hockey Hall of Famer Glenn Anderson scored his first NHL goal on Oct. 12, 1980. The memorable goal came in an Edmonton Oilers 3-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
On Oct. 12, 1985, Montreal Canadiens rookie Stephane Richer scored the first goal of his NHL career, in a 6-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Owen Nolan scored the first of his 422 career goals on Oct. 12, 1990. He helped lead the Quebec Nordiques beat the Sabres, in Buffalo, 4-2.
Alexei Kovalev made his NHL debut, on Oct. 12, 1992, for the New York Rangers. He scored his first career goal in a 6-2 win over the Hartford Whalers at Madison Square Garden.
There were two NHL firsts during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 7-4 victory at the Maple Leafs on Oct. 11, 1996. Chris Gratton scored his first career hat, helping goaltender Corey Schwab earn his first career win. Schwab picked up 11 wins in his 31 appearances for the Lightning during the 1996-97 season.
David Legwand scored his first career goal, on Oct. 12, 1999, and was the game-winner in the Nashville Predators’ 4-2 win over the Maple Leafs. Legwand went on to score 210 goals over his next 14 seasons with the Predators.
Auston Matthews had one of the most successful NHL debuts on Oct. 12, 2016. Not only did he score the first goal of his career, but he also added three more to become the first player in the modern era to score four goals in his first game. The performance was wasted as the Ottawa Senators came back to beat the Maple Leafs 5-4 in overtime.
On Oct. 12, 1955, Terry Sawchuk became the 10th goaltender in NHL history to record 200 career victories. Lorne Ferguson scored twice as the Boston Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 2-0. It was Sawchuk’s 58th career shutout and first with the Bruins.
Former Canadiens’ goaltending legend Jacques Plante made his first trip back to the Forum, in Montreal, on Oct. 12, 1963, as a member of the Rangers. His teammates in front of him did Plante no favors as he was peppered with 59 shots in a 6-2 loss to the Habs.
Five years later, On Oct. 12, 1968, Plante recorded his 64th career NHL shutout, and his first with the Blues, in a 6-0 win over the visiting Kings. In his two seasons in St. Louis, Plante earned 10 shutouts.
Tony Esposito recorded his 53rd career shutout, on Oct. 12, 1975, to lead the Blackhawks to a 3-0 win over the Canucks at the Chicago Stadium. It was the first of four shutouts during the 1975-76 season.
On Oct. 12, 1990, John Vanbiesbrouck made 41 saves for his eighth career shutout in the Rangers’ 3-0 win over the Canadiens, at Madison Square Garden. It was New York’s first shutout over Montreal in nearly 20 years. Mike Gartner led the scoring with two goals in the third period.
Dallas Stars goaltender Andy Moog played in his 500th career NHL game, on Oct. 12, 1993, a 3-3 tie with the Blackhawks. Moog played in 213 more games before calling it a career in 1998.
Roberto Luongo made 37 saves, on Oct. 12, 2017, as his Florida Panthers beat the Blues 5-2.
This was the 454th win in his career, tying him with Curtis Joseph for the fourth-most in NHL history. He is currently third all-time with 489 wins, only behind Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur.
A Busy Day in Vancouver
Greg Adams scored his second career hat trick and added an assist, on Oct. 12, 1988, leading the Canucks to a 6-2 win at the Edmonton Oilers. The victory snapped a 27-game winless streak for versus the Oilers (0-24-3).
Two years later, on Oct. 12, 1990, Dan Quinn scored his 200th career goal, while goaltender Troy Gamble picked up his only NHL shutout in the Canucks’ 4-0 win over the visiting Blues.
Pavel Bure scored four goals and added an assist, on Oct. 12, 1992, to lead the Canucks to an 8-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
Bure scored his first career hat trick with three goals in the second period. Two of his four goals came while shorthanded on the penalty kill.
Finally, on Oct. 12, 1995, Trevor Linden became the third player in franchise history to score 200 goals with the team. The milestone goal, along with two assists, came in a 7-7 tie with the Kings, in Los Angeles.
A Big Date in DC
Washington Capitals center Dale Hunter made NHL history on Oct. 12, 1996. He scored the 300th goal of this career in a 4-3 loss to the Kings, becoming the first player in league history to rack up 300 goals and 3,000 penalty minutes.
Peter Bondra scored three goals, Oct. 12, 1999, including the tying and winning goals 58 seconds apart late in the third period, as the Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4. His 14th career hat trick made Bondra the team’s all-time leader, passing Gartner.
On Oct. 12, 2005, rookie Alex Ovechkin scored a goal in the Capitals’ 7-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. His tally made him the first player in franchise history to have at least one point in each of his first five games with the team.
Odds & Ends
The brand-new Buffalo Memorial Auditorium opened its doors to hockey for the first time, on Oct. 12, 1940, with a game featuring the Buffalo Bisons of the American Hockey League. The building later became the home for the Sabres in 1971.
Claude Ruel made his debut as Canadiens’ head coach, on Oct. 12, 1968, succeeding Toe Blake, as Montreal tied 1-1 with the Penguins. Ruel’s first season with the Canadiens ended with a Stanley Cup championship.
On Oct. 12, 1976, Don Murdoch of the Rangers had a huge night with five goals in a 10-4 victory over the Minnesota North Stars. His five goals tied a league record for the most goals in a game by a rookie, tying Howie Meeker, who first accomplished this feat for the Maple Leafs in 1948.
The Canadiens beat the North Stars 7-3, on Oct. 12, 1977, to extend their unbeaten streak in season-opening games to 15. Guy Lapointe had a goal in two assists as Montreal improved to 11-0-4 in season openers since 1963.
Wilf Paiement of the Maple Leafs made history, on Oct. 12, 1980, by scoring the 100,000th all-time goal in the NHL. It was one of the easiest of all those goals as he scored into an empty net to wrap up a 4-2 win over the Flyers.
Steve Yzerman scored a shorthanded goal, on Oct. 12. 1990, for his 700th career NHL point, in the Red Wings’ win over the Hartford Whalers. He finished the night with two goals and an assist.
Yzerman’s eventual teammate, Nicklas Lidstrom had two assists, on Oct. 12, 2001, in the Red Wings’ 4-2 win over the Sabres. His two helpers gave him 571 points making him the highest-scoring defenseman in team history, passing Reed Larson.
On Oct. 12, 2003, Keith Tkachuk scored twice to become the 74th player to score 400 NHL goals. Goaltender Chris Osgood made 39 saves as the Blues won 2-1 at the Colorado Avalanche.
Whenever you break a record of Wayne Gretzky’s, you have really accomplished something. On Oct. 12, 2006, Ryan Smyth scored three goals in a span of 2:01, breaking Gretzky’s record for the fastest hat trick in NHL history by 17 seconds. The milestone came in the Oilers’ 6-4 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
Happy Birthday to You
A total of 18 current and former NHL players were born on Oct 12. The most notable of this lot are Dave Brown (58), Randy Wood (57), Todd Krygier (55), J.J. Daigneault (55), Dwayne Roloson (51), Randy Robitaille (45), Marcel Hossa (39), Carl Soderberg (35), Mike Green (35), Adam McQuaid (34), Jake McCabe (27) and Sean Monahan (26).