NHL 100: A look back at some NHL games to remember over 100 years

NHL 100: A weekly look at 100 years of hockey

From Day 1 of the NHL to the four-goal debut of Auston Matthews, there is no shortage of memorable NHL games over the past 100 years.

In the latest edition of NHL 100, a weekly series from The Canadian Press, we look at just a few of the all-time great games.

  

CURTAIN RAISER

Only four teams were in the NHL on Dec. 19, 1917, when the fledgling league began play with a pair of games.

The Ottawa Senators welcomed the Montreal Canadiens in a battle of Hall of Fame goaltenders at Dey’s Arena.

Clint Benedict was in net for the home side against Montreal’s Georges Vezina. Neither netminder was in top form. 

Vezina gave up a hat trick to Cy Denneny and Benedict allowed five goals to Joe Malone as Montreal posted a 7-4 victory.

Montreal’s other team also opened with a win that night. The Wanderers outscored the Toronto Arenas 10-9 at the Montreal Arena.

 

GREAT ONE

Few expected Wayne Gretzky’s 50th goal of the 1981-82 NHL season to come in a Dec. 30 game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Edmonton Oilers superstar delivered one of the greatest performances of his career to reach the milestone in his 39th game of the campaign. 

The Great One entered play with 45 goals. He had a hat trick before the game’s midway point, added a fourth goal early in the third period and capped his five-goal effort with an empty-netter to hit the 50 mark.

Only Mike Bossy and Maurice (Rocket) Richard had previously accomplished the 50-in-50 feat. Gretzky’s incredible 50-in-39 accomplishment was a jaw dropper.

He went on to establish a new league record with 92 goals that season.

 

ROCKET RIOT

It didn’t take long for a game between the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings to become an afterthought on March 17, 1955.

Some fans at the Montreal Forum, upset at a suspension levied against Habs star Maurice (Rocket) Richard, threw trash at NHL president Clarence Campbell when he sat down at his seat.

Things got ugly after teargas was released near ice level. Fans spilled out on the streets and the ensuing riot lasted several hours.

Richard later took to the airwaves and successfully appealed for calm.

Detroit won the game via forfeit. 

 

HERITAGE MOMENT

It was a doubleheader to remember.

Some 57,000 fans braved -20 C temperatures at Commonwealth Stadium on Nov. 22, 2003, to watch the Edmonton Oilers take on the Montreal Canadiens in the first-ever regular-season outdoor NHL game.

Beforehand, New York Rangers forward Mark Messier donned his old Oilers jersey and reunited with former teammates Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr and others for an alumni game against the Habs.

The regular NHL game followed with tuque-wearing netminder Jose Theodore helping the Canadiens to a 4-3 victory.

The league has since gone outdoors on several occasions. One notable game was the 2014 New Year’s Day Winter Classic between Toronto and Detroit, which drew an NHL record 105,591 fans to the Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich.  

 

AWESOME AUSTON

Talk about making a great first impression.

On Oct. 12, 2016, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews became the first player in the modern era to score four goals in his first NHL game.

The first overall draft pick completed his hat trick early in the second period at Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre and reached the four-goal mark near the end of the frame.

Matthews flashed a variety of skills on his second goal.

He took possession at the blue line, slid the puck between the legs of two opponents, chipped it in the zone, stole the puck from defenceman Erik Karlsson and then beat goalie Craig Anderson.

Kyle Turris spoiled the evening for the Maple Leafs with the overtime winner in a 5-4 Senators’ victory.

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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press