The greatest player to ever skate in the National Hockey League added to his remarkable personal record book three times, with three different teams, on this date. Oct. 26 has been a good day for numerous Hockey Hall of Famers and has seen plenty of memories in Buffalo, as well.
Gretzky Sets the Bar Even Higher
You can randomly point to any date on the calendar and we could come up with something Wayne Gretzky did on it. The Great One had a handful of memorable moments on Oct. 26 throughout his career, including doing something that had never been done before or again since.
Staring on Oct. 26, 1984, when Gretzky picked up four assists in the second period, as the Edmonton Oilers beat the Los Angeles Kings, 8-2. The four assists in one period were one short of the NHL record held by Dale Hawerchuk. Jari Kurri also scored twice and added three assists in that same period. His five points in one period were one shy of Bryan Trottier’s NHL record.
On Oct. 26, 1990, now with the Kings, Gretzky became the first and still the only player to ever score 2,000 points in league history. The milestone came with an assist in a 6-2 loss at the Winnipeg Jets. The most remarkable thing about reaching 2,000 points was how fast he was able to do it. Gretzky needed just 857 games to hit this plateau, scoring 684 goals and racking up 1,316 assists.
Finally, on Oct. 26, 1997, Gretzky picked up a pair of assists in the New York Rangers’ 3-3 tie with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. The two helpers, the 1,850th and 1,851st of his career, gave Gretzky more assists than any other player in NHL history had points, passing Gordie Howe’s point total of 1,850. This might be the most incredible stat of Gretzky’s career. It still holds true to this day, though Jaromir Jagr gave it a run for his money but his 1,921 career points still did not surpass No. 99’s 1,963 total assists.
More Hall of Fame Moments
Gretzky was far from the only member of the Hockey Hall of Fame to excel on this date. On Oct. 26, 1969, Bernie Parent and Jacques Plante both earned shutouts as the Philadelphia Flyers and St. Louis Blues skated to a 0-0 tie. It was the 69th career shutout for Plante and seventh of Parent’s career. Nine years later, on Oct. 26, 1978, Parent earned career shutout number 51 in a 5-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Luc Robitaille had two assists, on Oct. 26, 1991, to become the fifth player in Kings’ franchise history to score 500 points with the team. The milestone came in a 4-2 win at the New York Islanders.
Mike Gartner scored two goals, on Oct. 26, 1992, to lead the New York Rangers to an 8-4 victory over the visiting Flyers. These were the 544th and 545th goals of his career, moving Gartner ahead of Montreal Canadiens’ legend Maurice Richard for ninth place on the NHL’s all-time goals list. When Richard retired 32 years earlier, in 1960, his 544 goals were the most ever scored in the league.
On Oct. 26, 1993, goaltender Patrick Roy recorded his 21st career shutout to lead the Canadiens to a 2-0 win at the New Jersey Devils.
Mario Lemieux scored a hat trick, on Oct. 26, 1995, to become the 20th player in NHL history to score 500 career goals. The memorable moment came in his 605th game, a 7-5 victory at the Islanders. Gretzky is the only player to score 500 goals faster than Lemieux.
Steve Yzerman became the longest-serving captain in NHL history, on Oct. 26, 1997. His tenure of 11 seasons and 12 games broke the old record held by fellow Hall of Famer and Detroit Red Wing Alex Delvecchio. The Red Wings beat the Vancouver Canucks, 5-1, improving to 6-0-0 in road games to start the 1997-98 season.
Scott Stevens picked up an assist, on Oct. 26, 2002, to become the first defenseman in Devils’ team history to score 400 points, during a 5-1 victory over the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.
Upstate New York Memories
The Buffalo Sabres can look back fondly on this date over the years. On Oct. 26, 1975, they beat the California Golden Seals, 3-2, to set an NHL record with their eighth consecutive win to start the season. They held onto that record until the 1993-94 Maple Leafs started the season 10-0-0. The Sabres tied Toronto’s record, appropriately enough on Oct. 26, 2006, when they beat the Islanders for their 10th win in a row to kick-off 2006-07. Goaltender Ryan Miller made 29 saves to earn the 3-0 shutout.
On October 26, 1980, John Van Boxmeer, Lindy Ruff and Craig Ramsay all scored in a span of 41 seconds, setting a new team record for the fastest three goals, as the Sabres beat the Islanders 5-2, at the Memorial Auditorium.
Mike Foligno scored the 100th goal of his NHL career, on Oct. 26, 1982, in the Sabres’ 7-7 draw in Montreal. The two teams scored a combined 10 goals in the first period, five for each side, before settling for a tie.
Goaltender Dominik Hasek picked up his 100th career victory, on Oct. 26, 2006. in a 6-3 win over the visiting Hartford Whalers. He became the first-ever European-born netminder to win 100 games in the NHL.
A Big Night in 1980
Oct. 26, 1980, proved to be quite the eventful evening on the NHL schedule. 40 years ago, today, Peter Stastny scored his first NHL goal, in the Quebec Nordiques’ 7-4 loss at the Chicago Blackhawks. This was the first of his 450 career goals.
Darryl Sittler set a Maple Leafs’ modern-era record with his 15th career hat trick, in an 8-5 road loss at the Canucks. This was his second hat trick within 24 hours as he scored three goals the night before at the Kings. Sittler still holds the overall franchise record with 18 career hat tricks.
A year and one day after signing his first NHL contract, Tim Kerr scored the first goal of his NHL career, in the Flyers’ 6-1 win over the visiting Whalers. He went on to score 303 goals during his time in Philadelphia.
This was a huge night for Anders Hedberg, as he scored four goals and added two assists in the Rangers’ 7-6 victory against the Red Wings.
Finally, Boston Bruins’ forward Don Marcotte scored twice, including the 200th goal of his NHL career, in a 7-7 tie with the Jets. This was the highest-scoring draw in franchise history.
Odds & Ends
On Oct. 26, 1978, Mario Lessard made his NHL debut and led the Kings to a 6-0 victory in Buffalo. He became the 14th goaltender in league history to earn a shutout in his first game. He went on to record four of his nine career shutouts during his rookie season.
On year later, on Oct. 26, 1979, the Islanders earned a 2-1 victory at the Whalers for the 100th road win in franchise history.
The Canadiens retired Doug Harvey’s No. 2, on Oct. 26, 1985, in a pregame ceremony before a 5-3 win over the Whalers. The Hall of Fame defenseman played 890 games in Montreal, where he won six Norris Trophies, for being the league’s top blueliner, and six Stanley Cups.
Sergei Mylnikov made history for the Nordiques, on Oct. 26, 1989, when he became the first goaltender born in the Soviet Union to play in the NHL. His debut was spoiled in a 4-2 loss at the Bruins. He appeared in just 10 career games during the 1989-90 season, winning just once.
Teammates Jeremy Roenick and Keith Tkachuk hit personal milestones, on Oct. 26, 1997, in the Phoenix Coyotes’ 6-1 beating of the Sabres. Roenick scored twice to reach 300 career goals, while Tkachuk found the back of the net for the 200th goal of his career. Cliff Ronning earned First Star of the Game honors by picking four assists in the win.
On Oct. 26, 2001, the Islanders became just the fourth team in NHL history to win each of their first six road games to start the season. Mariusz Czerkawski was the hero with the game-winning goal in overtime to beat the Carolina Hurricanes, 3-2.
The Blues became the first NHL team to ever with four straight games with four different goaltenders, on Oct. 26, 2002. After winning games with Reinhard Divis, Curtis Sanford and Cody Rudkowsky, Fred Brathwaite made 18 saves in a 4-3 overtime win against the Calgary Flames.
On that same night, Justin Williams and Michal Handzus set a Flyers’ record by scoring two goals in the first 31 seconds of a 6-2 win at the Islanders. At the time, it was the third-fastest pair of goals scored at the start of a game in NHL history.
Happy Birthday to You
Oct. 26 has been the birth date of 14 players who have skated in at least one NHL game. The best of this bunch are Miikka Kiprusoff (44), Joseph Cramarossa (28), Adam Clendening (28) and the late Hall of Famer Harry Oliver.
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.