Dec. 14 has been a very eventful and unique day in National Hockey League history. Among the more memorable moments are a pair of Hall of Fame blueliners scoring their first hat tricks, some major personal milestones and big-time performances out of a handful of former number one overall picks. Let’s fire up the hockey time machine and start our daily trip throughout the decades.
First Hat Tricks
Ed Westfall and Bobby Orr both had huge games, on Dec. 14, 1968, as the Boston Bruins doubled up the Chicago Blackhawks 10-5. Orr scored the first hat trick of his legendary career with the primary assist on all three goals going to Westfall. The Hall of Fame defenseman added a pair of assists on the evening too, including one on Westfall’s goal in the third period. The duo combined for four goals and nine points.
Over three decades later, on Dec. 14, 2000, Rob Blake was the second Hall of Fame blueliner to score his first career hat trick on this date. He added a pair of assists to his three goals for the first five-point night of his long career. He factored in on all of the Los Angeles Kings’ goals in a 5-5 tie with the visiting New York Rangers.
New Early Leaders
Howie Morenz scored a goal, on Dec. 14, 1933, to help lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 2-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The goal was the 247th of his career, putting him ahead of Cy Denneny for the most in NHL history at the time. Goaltender Lorne Chabot picked up the shutout in a penalty-free contest between these two rivals.
Exactly 10 years later, on Dec. 14, 1943, Bill Cowley scored a goal and assisted on two others in the Bruins’ 4-3 win over the Blackhawks. The two helpers gave him 258 in his career, one for than Frank Boucher of the New York Rangers, for the most in league history.
Major Personal Milestones
Gordie Howe scored two goals, on Dec. 14, 1974, to help the Houston Aeros a 5-3 victory of the Winnipeg Jets in World Hockey Association (WHA) action. These were the 900th and 901st goals of his professional career, both regular-season and playoffs in the NHL and WHA>
On Dec. 14, 1982, Marcel Dionne became the ninth player in NHL history to score 500 career goals. He entered the night with 498 goals before scoring both Kings’ goals in a 7-2 loss to the visiting Washington Capitals.
Mike Gartner scored twice, on Dec. 14, 1997, in the Phoenix Coyotes’ 3-3 tie with the Detroit Red Wings. This made him just the fifth player ever to score 700 goals. Also, Teppo Numminen picked up the 250th assist of his career, the most by any defenseman in franchise history. His 426 assists are still the most for blueliners and the fourth-most by any player in Jets/Coyotes’ history.
Another member of the Coyotes hit a big milestone, on Dec. 14, 2000, when Claude Lemieux scored two goals and added an assist to give 700 points in his career. He was the driving force in a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, in just his third game with the team.
No. 1 Picks Leading the Way
Dale Hawerchuk, the first pick of the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, had a big night for the Jets on this date in 1983. He tied a team record for the most points in a single game with three goals and three assists in an 8-4 win at the Maple Leafs. This was already the sixth hat trick of his young career.
Marc-Andre Fleury got to face the Pittsburgh Penguins, who drafted him first overall at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, for the first time, on Dec. 14, 2017. Now a member of the Vegas Golden Knights, he made 24 saves in a 2-1 win over his former mates. This gave the Golden Knights a 20-9-2 record, which set an NHL record for the fewest number of games an expansion team needed to earn 20 victories.
One year later, the first overall pick of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Alex Ovechkin, scored three goals for his second hat trick in as many games. The 22nd hat trick of his career extended his personal point streak to 13 straight games and helped the Capitals beat the Carolina Hurricanes 6-5 in a shootout.
On the same night, Nico Hischier, who went number one at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, scored his first career overtime goal to give the New Jersey Devils a 5-4 victory over the Golden Knights. The win snapped a 19-game winless streak for goaltender Cory Schneider who went 0-15-3 in his previous 18 starts.
Odds & Ends
Tony Esposito posted his first NHL shutout, on Dec. 14, 1968, by making 25 saves to lead the Canadiens to a 1-0 victory at the Philadelphia Flyers. This was one of his five career victories in Montreal before he was lost to the Blackhawks in the 1969 intraleague draft.
Rick Martin became the first player in Buffalo Sabres’ history to score 200 goals, on Dec. 14, 1975, in a 7-4 loss to the visiting Atlanta Flames. Exactly one year later, he became the first player in Buffalo to score 250 goals. He also added an assist in the Sabres’ 6-3 win at the Vancouver Canucks.
Rick MacLeish became the second player to score 300 goals as a member of the Flyers, on Dec. 14, 1980, in a 5-4 win against the visiting St. Louis Blues.
The Quebec Nordiques had a huge offensive explosion, on Dec. 14, 1985, in a 9-3 blowout of the Devils. Michel Goulet led the way with four goals and an assist. Peter Stastny matched his five points with a goal and four helpers. Brent Ashton chipped in with the third hat trick of his career.
On that same night in Minnesota, Ron Wicks referees a 6-6 tie between the North Stars and Maple Leafs. This was the 1,034th NHL game he officiated, the most in NHL history. He broke the previous record held by Bruce Hood.
Stan Smyl scored his sixth career hat trick, on Dec. 14, 1986, to lead the Canucks to a 7-3 win in Chicago. His third goal was the 551st point of his career and moved him past Thomas Gradin as Vancouver’s all-time leading scorer.
Theo Fleury became the first player to ever score 350 goals as a member of the Calgary Flames, on Dec. 14, 1998, in a 5-2 loss at the Rangers.
Markus Naslund lit the lamp four times, on Dec. 14, 2002, to lead the Canucks to a 6-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers. He became the first player to score 20 goals in the 2002-03 season and the fifth player net 200 goals in a Canucks uniform.
The Lundqvist brothers faced each other for the first in the NHL, on Dec. 14, 2006, as the Dallas Stars hosted the Rangers. Goaltender Henrik made 43 saves to lead the Rangers to a 5-2 victory over his twin brother Joel, who was held off the scoresheet. This was the first time twin brothers were on opposite benches since Ron and Rich Sutter played against each other during the 1993-94 season.
Happy Birthday to You
A talented group of 17 current and former NHL players call Dec. 14 their birthdays. The most notable of the bunch are Frank St. Marseille (81), Patrik Sundstrom (59), Peter Sundstrom (59), Chris Dahlquist (58), Bill Ranford (54), Chris Therien (49), Mike Santorelli (35), Cory Conacher (31), and Ivan Barbashev (35).