Ken Daneyko vividly can recall when Pittsburgh Penguins captain Mario Lemieux became the first -- and only -- NHL player to score goals five different ways against the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 31, 1988.
"He made a lot of defensemen look bad. You could be draped all over him and it didn't matter," said Daneyko, a former Devils defenseman. "He made your knees wobble when you saw him coming at you 1-on-1 because you didn't want to give him too much open ice. But he found it anyway."
Lemieux scored at even strength, on the power play, shorthanded, on a penalty shot and into an empty net to lead the Penguins to an 8-6 victory against the Devils at Civic Arena in Pittsburgh.
Lemieux's big night is one of 32 remaining in the Greatest NHL Moments Presented by Coors Light and Pepsi Zero Sugar. As part of the NHL's Centennial celebration, a blue-ribbon panel of broadcasters from NBC Sports Group, NHL Network, Sportsnet and TVA selected 64 moments. Fans, voting in a bracket-style tournament, have cut the field in half. Second-round voting runs through Oct. 31.
[RELATED: Gretzky, Lemieux in NHL's Greatest Moment clash | Vote for NHL's Greatest Moment]
Lemieux's feat, which won its first-round matchup against Peter and Anton Stastny with eight points each in a game, is facing off against Wayne Gretzky scoring his 802nd NHL goal to pass Gordie Howe for the all-time record March 23, 1994. The Greatest NHL Moment will be announced during the Scotiabank NHL100 Classic between the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa on Dec. 16.
"He had every element in his game, like a Jean Béliveau," Daneyko said. "He was graceful and his hands were incredible. It was one of those legendary-type performances for someone who eventually would become one of the greatest players to ever play the game. You know he's having a remarkable game but we're not happy about it. Now that I'm retired and can look back, it was as great a performance from any opponent I've ever played against."
Daneyko remembers the key storyline of the game even before the opening faceoff. It marked a battle between Lemieux, selected No. 1 in the 1984 NHL Draft, against Kirk Muller, whom the Devils chose No. 2 that year.
"Mario and Kirk were drafted the same year," Daneyko said. "Our consolation prize wasn't too bad … and Kirk went on to have a pretty good career. Just not as good as 'Super Mario.' "
Lemieux scored his even-strength, power-play and shorthanded goals in the first period. He scored on a penalty shot midway through the second and then beat the clock by hitting the empty net with one second remaining in the third. Lemieux assisted on Pittsburgh's other three goals, giving him an eight-point game.
Video: Mario Lemieux scored 100 points 10 different times
Lost in Lemieux's fantastic performance was Muller having five points (two goals, three assists) and a plus-3 rating.
"I just remember the top two picks putting on a show, but Mario stole the show on this night," Daneyko said.
Daneyko, who was paired with Craig Wolanin for much of the game, won't ever forget the offensive fireworks Lemieux displayed.
"Even the great forwards today on occasion beat defenders 1-on-1 over the course of a game, but Mario would beat them 50 percent of the time if it was a 1-on-1 matchup; that's what I remember," he said. "Look, we're all professionals and I'd try hard to defend him, but he'd beat you with regularity, and it was pretty sick."