Dec. 31 NHL History
1975: In what many consider the greatest game ever played, the Montreal Canadiens and Soviet Central Red Army play to a 3-3 tie at the Forum. Goals by Steve Shutt and Yvon Lambert give the Canadiens a 2-0 lead after one period.
After Boris Mikhailov scores on the Soviets’ first shot of the second period, Montreal’s Yvan Cournoyer makes it 3-1 near the midway point of the period. Goals by Valeri Kharlamov late in the second period and Boris Alexandrov (the youngest player on the roster) early in the third get the Soviets even at 3-3. Goaltender Vladislav Tretiak survives a 16-shot barrage by the Canadiens in the third to earn the tie. Montreal finishes the game with a 38-13 advantage in shots on goal.
1988: Mario Lemieux puts on a show the likes of which no one had seen in an NHL game.
Lemieux becomes the first player to score goals in five ways during the same game. Before a crowd of 16,025 at Civic Arena, Lemieux scores at even strength, on the power play, shorthanded, on a penalty shot and into an empty net. The five goals carry the Pittsburgh Penguins to an 8-6 victory against the New Jersey Devils.
The even-strength, power-play and shorthanded goals come in the first period. Lemieux scores on a penalty shot midway through the second and beats the clock by hitting the empty net with one second remaining in the third.
Lemieux assists on Pittsburgh’s other three goals, giving him an eight-point game.
1997: Dominik Hasek makes 36 saves in the Buffalo Sabres’ 3-0 victory against the Ottawa Senators at Marine Midland Arena. It’s the 27th shutout of Hasek’s NHL career and his sixth in the month of December, making him the first goalie since George Hainsworth in 1928-29 to have six shutouts in a single month.
2003: Maxim Afinogenov has his first NHL hat trick and Miroslav Satan gets his fifth hat trick in the Sabres’ 7-1 win against the visiting Washington Capitals. It’s the first time in 11 years that two Sabres score three goals in the same game.