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This Date in NHL History

Jan. 2: Howe plays in fifth decade

Plus: Bossy scores 500th NHL goal; Rangers defeat Flyers in Winter Classic

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / Managing Editor


1980: Gordie Howe, age 51, becomes the first NHL player to play in five decades when he takes the ice for the Hartford Whalers in a 3-3 tie against the Edmonton Oilers at Northlands Coliseum.

The game comes more than 33 years after Howe's first NHL appearance. He's 18 when he skates for the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 16, 1946

Howe doesn't get a point in the game, but an 18-year-old who idolizes him does. Wayne Gretzky, who later breaks Howe's scoring records, has an assist on a first-period power-play goal by Blair MacDonald.

Howe takes a regular shift that night and plays all 80 games for the Whalers; the last four come after he celebrates his 52nd birthday.

Video: Gordie Howe, 'Mr. Hockey,' enjoyed five-decade career



1986: Mike Bossy becomes the 11th NHL player to score 500 goals, and the first to do so with the New York Islanders. Goal No. 500 comes when he scores into an empty net with 17 seconds remaining to clinch a 7-5 victory against the Boston Bruins at Nassau Coliseum. He scores his 499th goal with 2:22 remaining, breaking a 5-5 tie. Bossy scores 500 goals in 647 games, fewer than anyone in NHL history at that time (Wayne Gretzky later does it in 575 games).


1992: In one of the biggest trades in NHL history, the Toronto Maple Leafs send Gary Leeman, Michel Petit, Craig Berube, Jeff Reese and Alexander Godynyuk to the Calgary Flames for Doug Gilmour, Ric Nattress, Jamie Macoun, Rick Wamsley and Kent Manderville. The big prize turns out to be Gilmour, who helps Toronto advance to the conference final in 1993 and 1994.


1999: Damian Rhodes of the Ottawa Senators becomes the first NHL goalie to score a goal and get a shutout in the same game. He makes 30 saves in a 6-0 win against the visiting New Jersey Devils and is credited with a first-period goal when he is the last Senators player to touch the puck before Devils defenseman Lyle Odelein inadvertently shoots it into his own net during a delayed penalty.

Exactly two years later, Jose Theodore of the Montreal Canadiens matches Rhodes' accomplishment in a 3-0 win against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. Theodore makes 32 saves and backhands the puck down the ice and into an empty net with nine seconds remaining in the third period after the Islanders pull goalie John Vanbiesbrouck.


2002: Ron Francis reaches two milestones on the same night. Francis plays in his 1,000th game with the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes franchise and scores his 500th NHL goal in Carolina's 6-3 loss to the visiting Bruins. Francis joins Gretzky, Howe, Mark Messier and Marcel Dionne as the only NHL players with 500 goals and 1,000 assists.


2012: The New York Rangers defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist makes 34 saves, the biggest of which comes when he stops Daniel Briere on a penalty shot with 19.8 seconds remaining in the third period.

Video: 2012 Winter Classic: Hank denies penalty shot


2018: Alex Ovechkin extends his NHL record for overtime goals to 22 when he scores at 1:57 of OT to give the Washington Capitals a 5-4 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. Ovechkin also becomes the ninth player in NHL history to score 100 game-winning goals.

On the same night, Marc-Andre Fleury makes 29 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights defeat the Nashville Predators 3-0 at T-Mobile Arena. The Golden Knights extend their winning streak to eight games and their point streak to 13 (12-0-1), the longest such runs in NHL history by a team in its inaugural season.


2019: Elias Pettersson scores three goals, helping the Vancouver Canucks defeat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in overtime at Canadian Tire Centre. The Sweden-born center completes his first NHL hat trick when he scores ta 1:38 of overtime. He goes on to win the Calder Trophy as the League's top rookie.

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