Today in Hockey History: Oct. 21

Oct. 21 has seen plenty of memorable moments from some of the best players in National Hockey League history. This date has been big over the years for hockey fans in Quebec City, Detroit, and Pittsburgh. So, let’s climb aboard the THW time machine to revisit all the great memories.

Lafleur & Dionne Own the Day

Hockey Hall of Famers Guy Lafleur and Marcel Dionne began their connection to each other when they were the first two players picked in the 1971 NHL Amateur Draft. Lafleur was taken first overall by the Montreal Canadiens, with the Detroit Red Wings selecting Dionne at No. 2. They both had some big moments on this date, on their own and together.

Starting on Oct. 21, 1975, Lafleur scored two goals and added three assists to lead the Canadiens to a 7-1 win at the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Guy Lafleur
Lafleur built his Hall of Fame resume in Montreal. (THW Archives)

Dionne made history on Oct. 21, 1984, when he became the seventh player in NHL history to reach 800 assists in the Los Angeles Kings’ 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Fast forward to Oct. 21, 1988, and Lafleur and Dionne are now teammates on the New York Rangers. This was Dionne’s second season with the team, and Lafleur had just come out of retirement after walking away in 1984.

On this night, both players scored a goal in the same game for the first time. Lafleur scored his second goal with New York, while Dionne’s power-play goal was his first of the 1988-89 season as the Rangers beat the Washington Capitals 4-1.

Lafleur wasn’t done as he moved on to the Quebec Nordiques the following season. On Oct. 21, 1989, he picked up three assists in a 7-2 win over the Minnesota North Stars to make him only the ninth player in NHL history to score 1,300 career points.

A Big Day in Quebec

Lafleur’s 1,300th career point was not the only memorable moment to happen for the Nordiques on this date.

On Oct. 21, 1979, the Nordiques earned their first-ever shutout since joining the NHL after the World Hockey Association (WHA) folded. Goran Hogosta stopped all 21 shots he faced to beat the Blackhawks 3-0 at the old Chicago Stadium. This was Hogosta’s only shutout in his 22-game NHL career.

Dale Hunter scored a natural hat trick in the third period on Oct. 21, 1989, to beat his future team, the Capitals, 6-3. In addition to Hunter’s first hat trick, Quebec got two goals and two assists from Real Cloutier and four helpers from Jacques Richard.

Dale Hunter Quebec Nordiques
Hunter started his career in Quebec. (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)

One year later, on Oct. 21, 1982, Marian Stastny scored his first career hat trick and added an assist while his brother, Anton, had a goal and four assists in the Nordiques’ 8-4 win over the visiting Penguins.

Plenty of Motown Memories

The first Red Wings’ memory to happen on this date came in 1954, when Red Kelly became just the second defenseman in team history to score a hat trick. His big night helped the Red Wings beat the Boston Bruins 5-3 at the Olympia. His first goal came on a first-period power play before scoring a 5v5 and shorthanded goal in the third period.

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On Oct. 21, 1962, Bill Gadsby became only the second player in NHL history to play in 1,000 regular-season games as the Red Wings beat the Blackhawks 3-1. At the time, he and his teammate, Gordie Howe, were the only two players to reach this milestone.

Guy Charron scored his first career hat trick on Oct. 21, 1973, as the Red Wings blew out the Oakland Seals 11-2. Nick Libett added two goals and two assists, and Mickey Redmond had a goal and four assists to help lead the offense.

Hockey Hall of Famer Vaclav Nedomansky picked up three assists on Oct. 21, 1978, in Detroit’s 4-4 tie with the North Stars.

Related – Red Wings’ All-Time Greatest Lines

History was made when the Red Wings hosted the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 21, 1993, at the Joe Louis Arena. Paul Devorski refereed the game with his brother Greg being one of the two linesmen. This was the first NHL game in which a pair of brothers served as on-ice officials. The Red Wings beat the Jets 6-3.

On Oct. 21, 1996, goaltender Chris Osgood recorded his second shutout of the season and the 10th of his NHL career in a 3-0 win over the Kings. Brendan Shanahan scored his first two goals as a member of the Red Wings in the victory.

Brendan Shanahan #14 of the Detroit Red Wings
Shanahan scored his first two goals with the Red Wings on this date in 1996. (Tom Pidgeon /NHLI/Getty Images)

Finally, on Oct. 21, 2000, the Red Wings played their 5,000th game in franchise history and beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-4 in overtime. Nicklas Lidstrom had two assists in the win to become the first European-born defenseman to score 500 career points. The Blackhawks also played their 5,000th game on this night, as the two old rivals became the fourth and fifth teams to do so.

Penguins Leave Their Mark

The Penguins had some pretty good success on this date, especially in the franchise’s early years.

During their inaugural season, on Oct. 21, 1967, the Penguins hosted the Blackhawks at the Civic Arena for the first-ever matchup between these two teams. Ken Schinkel scored his first career hat trick, as well as the first in franchise history, as the Penguins won 4-2.

On Oct. 21, 1978, defenseman Randy Carlyle had three assists to lead the Penguins to a 5-1 win over the Capitals. Of course, Carlyle went on to a long career behind the bench which saw his tenure as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs sandwiched between two tours of duty with the Anaheim Ducks.

Head coach Randy Carlyle
Carlyle spent six seasons with the Penguins during his playing career. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

One year later, on Oct. 21, 1979, future Penguins’ head coach, Rick Kehoe, became the third player in franchise history to score 150 goals. The milestone came in a 6-3 road loss at the Rangers.

In some more recent history, on Oct. 21, 2006, Jordan Staal scored two shorthanded goals in a 5-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. He became the first player in 24 years to have the first three goals of his career to come while his team was shorthanded.

Odds & Ends

On Oct. 21, 1972, the Nassau Coliseum hosted the first-ever meeting between the New York Islanders and the Rangers. The Blue Shirts struck first in the rivalry with a 2-1 victory. Through the end of the 2020-21 season, these two teams have played each other 274 times in the regular season. The Rangers lead the series with a 132-121-19-10 record.

On Oct. 21, 1979, Phil Esposito, while playing for the Rangers, scored a goal in a 6-3 win over the Penguins at Madison Square Garden. He joined Howe as the only two players in NHL history to score 1,500 points with the tally. Since then, 12 more players have accomplished this feat with the most recent being Florida Panthers center Joe Thornton.

Goaltender Wayne Stephenson picked up the 10th and final shutout of his career on Oct. 21, 1980, leading the Capitals to a 2-0 victory over the Blackhawks. This was the first shutout for the Capitals in their franchise history after joining the league in the 1974-75 season.

Rookie goaltender Grant Fuhr earned his first NHL win, on Oct. 21, 1981, in an Edmonton Oilers’ 5-2 victory over the Hartford Whalers. After losing his first career start, this began a 23-game unbeaten streak which saw him go 15-0-8.

Grant Fuhr, Edmonton Oilers
Fuhr earned the first of 403 wins on this date in 1981. (

History was made when the Sabres beat the North Stars 8-6 on Oct. 21, 1984. Gilbert Perreault had two goals and a pair of assists in the win. The performance moved him ahead of Bobby Hull for 12th place on the NHL’s all-time scoring list. He also tied Alex Delvecchio for 14th place on the goals list with 456.

Mark Messier played in his 500th NHL game on Oct. 21, 1986. He scored a goal and added two assists in the Oilers’ 9-1 blowout of the Blackhawks.

Related – All-Time Alberta-Born Lineup

On Oct. 21, 1987, the Turgeon brothers faced each other for the first time in an NHL regular-season game. Sabres’ rookie Pierre scored his first two NHL goals, but Sylvain’s Whalers went on to a 5-3 win.

Speaking of the Sabres, Rob Ray scored a goal in his first NHL shift and later added an assist on Oct. 21, 1989, to lead them to a 4-1 win in Pittsburgh. This was the first time goaltender Tom Barrasso faced the Sabres, who he spent five-plus seasons with to start his career.

Eric Lindros scored his 200th career goal and added four assists on Oct. 21, 1997, to lead the Philadelphia Flyers past the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-1. He needed just 307 games to score 200 goals. Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux and Brett Hull are the only players in league history to accomplish this feat in fewer games.

Eric Lindros
Lindros was the fifth-fastest player to score 200 goals. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Blue Jackets hired head coach John Tortorella as their ninth head coach in franchise history, on Oct. 15, 2015, replacing Todd Richards. This was the fourth team he coached after stints with the Lightning, where he won the Stanley Cup, Rangers, and Vancouver Canucks. He has gone 227-166-54 before being relieved of his duties following the 2020-21 season.

On Oct. 21, 2018, the Lightning beat the Blackhawks 6-3 at the United Center. They set an NHL record with 33 shots on goal during the second period. The Bolts finished the night with 55 shots on goal, the most in franchise history.

Happy Birthday to You

Only 11 players to ever skate in the NHL were born on this date, as well as a memorable and controversial head coach. This group includes Hall of Fame builder Brian Kilrea (87), Mike Keenan (72), Bill Berg (54), Alexander Burmistrov (30) and the late Carl Brewer.

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