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.
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.
Dionne made history, on Oct. 21, 1984, when 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 has 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.
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 becomes 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 both a 5v5 and shorthanded goal in the third period.
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.
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.
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 early years of the franchise.
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 in between two tours of duty with the Anaheim Ducks.
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 2019-20 season, these two teams have played each other 274 times in the regular season. The Rangers lead the series with a 130-116-19-9 record.
Phil Esposito, on Oct. 21, 1979, while playing for the Rangers, scored a goal in a 6-3 win over the Penguins at Madison Square Garden. With the tally, Esposito joined Howe as the only two players in NHL history to score 1,500 points. Since then, 12 more players have accomplished this feat with the most recent being new Maple Leafs center, Joe Thornton.
Goaltender Wayne Stephenson picked up the 10th and final shutout of his career, on Oct. 21, 1980, as he led 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.
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.
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 the first 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.
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 his fourth team he coached after stints with the Lightning, where he won the Stanley Cup, Rangers and Vancouver Canucks. He has gone 209-140-42 since arriving in Columbus.
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 (86), Mike Keenan (71), Bill Berg (53), Alexander Burmistrov (29) and the late Carl Brewer.
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.