For decades, the Detroit Red Wings played games on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Let’s look back on when holiday hockey was a thing in the NHL.
December 24, 1972: Detroit Red Wings 0 at New York Rangers 5
Future Red Wings netminder Ed Giacomin makes 24 saves to post his 40th shutout, tying Davey Kerr for the Rangers’ franchise record.
On this day in 1972, Ed Giacomin recorded his 40th career shutout, as the Rangers blanked the Red Wings 5-0 in the final Christmas Eve game for both teams #Hockey365 #LGRW #NYR pic.twitter.com/whD3mxRing
— Mike Commito (@mikecommito) December 24, 2021
December 25, 1971: Detroit 3 at Toronto Maple Leafs 5
Billy MacMillan paces the Toronto offense with a hat-trick. To Nick Libett goes the honor of scoring the most recent goal registered by a Detroit player on Christmas Day.
December 25, 1968: Detroit Red Wings 3 at Pittsburgh Penguins 6
Before just 2,420 fans at Civic Arena, the Red Wings open a 3-1. The Penguins score the next five goals to fashion the victory.
December 25, 1967: Toronto Maple Leafs 3 at Detroit Red Wings 1
Frank Mahovlich, who will be traded to Detroit later in the season, scores the winner and sets up Dave Keon’s insurance goal in a 51-second span early in the third period.
December 25, 1966: Montreal Canadiens 4 at Detroit 0
For the first time since 1926, the Wings are blanked on Christmas. The Canadiens pummel Detroit goalie Roger Crozier with 43 shots.
December 25, 1965: Detroit Red Wings 3 at Montreal Canadiens 4
Gordie Howe’s 15th goal of the season made it 3-3 in the third period. However, Henri Richard tallied the winner for Montreal with 2:11 to play.
December 25, 1964: Montreal Canadiens 2 at Detroit Red Wings 2
Gordie Howe netted both Detroit goals. His tally at 4:06 of the third period tied the game.
December 25, 1963: New York Rangers 3 at Detroit Red Wings 4
Gordie Howe’s second goal of the game at 9:03 of the third period snapped a 3-3 tie.
December 25, 1962: Toronto Maple Leafs 1 at Detroit Red Wings 2
Ending a five-game Christmas losing streak, the Wings moved into a tie for second place on goals by Bruce MacGregor and Norm Ullman.
December 25, 1961: New York Rangers 6 at Detroit Red Wings 4
Detroit led 1-0 and 2-1. Four goals in a span of 1:31 – three of them by the Rangers – decided matters. Backup goalie Hank Bassen was a last-minute starter for the Wings after Terry Sawchuk injured his hand in the warmup.
December 24, 1960: Detroit 4 at Toronto Maple Leafs 4
The lead changed hands four times. Gerry Melnyk’s second goal of the game at 10:10 of the third period forged the tie for Detroit.
December 25, 1960: Chicago Blackhawks 3 at Detroit 0
With Chicago minus Bobby Hull (knee injury), former Wing Glenn Hall made 30 saves to blank Detroit.
December 25, 1959: New York Rangers 5 at Detroit 2
Detroit led 2-1 in the second period before the Rangers exploded for four unanswered goals.
December 25, 1958: Toronto Maple Leafs 2 at Detroit 0
The Wings outshot the Maple Leafs 44-18 but couldn’t solve Toronto netminder Ed Chadwick.
December 25, 1957: Detroit Red Wings 1 at Boston Bruins 4
Jack McIntyre gave Detroit a 1-0 first-period lead but it was all Bruins after that. Boston scored a pair of shorthanded goals.
December 25, 1956: New York Rangers 1 at Detroit Red Wings 8
Gordie Howe enjoyed a career-high six-point night, netting a hat-trick to go with three assists. Al Arbour counted his first NHL goal as the Wings improved to 13-0-4 home ice.
On brilliant, charismatic Gump Worsley: his Christmas (and more) history with Mr. Hockey and a tiny slice of what made this late #NYR #GoHabsGo and North Stars goalie one of great characters of all time https://t.co/6MKCg4v4BZ via @NHLdotcom
— Dave Stubbs 🇨🇦 (@Dave_Stubbs) December 24, 2021
December 25, 1955: Toronto Maple Leafs 1 at Detroit Red Wings 1
Red Kelly’s seventh goal of the season on a Detroit power play fashioned the tie with Toronto.
December 25, 1954: Detroit Red Wings 3 at Toronto Maple Leafs 2
Bill Dineen scored twice as Detroit played a Christmas road game for the first time since 1926. The game featured a brawl that saw Detroit’s Marcel Bonin and Toronto’s Larry Cahan both leave their benches to join in the fisticuffs.
December 25, 1952: Chicago Blackhawks 3 at Detroit Red Wings 3
Gordie Howe scored a pair of third-period goals, rallying the Wings from a 3-1 deficit. Ralph (Red) Almas was in goal for the Wings, filling in for the injured Terry Sawchuk (broken instep).
December 25, 1951: New York Rangers 1 at Detroit Red Wings 2
A blizzard limited Olympia attendance to 7,246 as the Wings were extending their unbeaten run to 10 games and their lead atop the NHL standings to 13 points.
December 25, 1950: New York Rangers 1 at Detroit Red Wings 4
Ted Lindsay scored twice and assisted on another goal as the Wings handed the Rangers their first Christmas Day loss since 1928.
December 25, 1949: Montreal Canadiens 2 at Detroit Red Wings 4
Ending a three-year Christmas losing streak, the Production Line of Sid Abel, Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay combined for two goals and four assists. The Wings rallied from a 2-0 deficit for the win.
December 25, 1948: Toronto Maple Leafs 2 at Detroit Red Wings 1
Detroit went 0-for-5 on the power play in losing to the Leafs. Gerry Couture scored the Wings’only goal.
December 25, 1947: New York Rangers 2 at Detroit Red Wings 0
Rangers goalie Sugar Jim Henry posted his first NHL shutout in handing Detroit a Christmas whitewash.
December 25, 1946: Toronto Maple Leafs 2 at Detroit Red Wings 1
Detroit coach/GM Jack Adams protested the outcome of the game after Ted Lindsay’s third-period goal was ruled offside by referee Georges Gravel. Detroit fans were clearly lacking the Christmas spirit. Gravel needed a police escort out of Olympia Stadium after the game.
December 25, 1945: Toronto Maple Leafs 3 at Detroit Red Wings 6
Detroit won for the first time in six games while ending Toronto’s six-game unbeaten run. Syd Howe paced the Wings with two goals.
December 25, 1944: Toronto Maple Leafs 4 at Detroit Red Wings 6
Rookie Steve Wochy scored twice and set up another goal as the Wings improved to 4-0-1 against Toronto on the season.
December 25, 1942: New York Rangers 3 at Detroit 1
The Rangers ended a six-game losing skid, as well as Detroit’s 10-game unbeaten home run. Goalie Jimmy Franks, on loan from the Wings, got the win, Mud Bruneteau spoiling his shutout bid with 12 seconds to play.
December 25, 1941: Brooklyn Americans 2 at Detroit Red Wings 3 (OT)
The night saw Detroit’s Ken Kilrea and Joe Krol of the Amerks both potting their first NHL goals and Brooklyn goalie Charlie Rayner stopping Jack Stewart on a penalty shot. Sid Abel won it for the Wings with his tally 5:02 in OT.
December 25, 1940: Toronto Maple Leafs 2 at Detroit 3
Toronto led 2-1 after one period. Eddie Wares scoring once in each of the next two periods brought Detroit the win.
December 25, 1939: Montreal Canadiens 1 at Detroit 3
More accurately, the final was Syd Howe 3, Toe Blake 1. Howe was the hero of the game, netting a hat-trick to offset the one goal by Habs forward Blake.
December 25, 1936: Chicago Blackhawks 1 at Detroit Red Wings 1 (OT)
The Wings would again win the Cup and again fail to beat Chicago on Christmas. Marty Barry’s third-period goal earned a point for Detroit. Features of the game were a fight between Detroit’s Mud Bruneteau and Chicago’s Glenn Brydson and Detroit’s Johnny Sorrell missing on a penalty shot.
December 25, 1935: Chicago Blackhawks 2 at Detroit 0
The eventual Stanley Cup champion Wings lost for the first time all season on home ice. Howie Morenz would net the winner in the second period. Ex-Detroit farmhand Mike Karakas posted the shutout for Chicago.
December 25, 1934: Chicago Blackhawks 2 at Detroit 1
Called up for the game, forward Wally Kilrea ended up scoring the winner into his own net. After stripping the puck from Chicago’s Tommy Cook, Kilrea swatted a clearing attempt past Detroit goalie Normie Smith.
December 25, 1933: Ottawa Senators 6 at Detroit 3
A furture and former Detroit player led the Sens to victory. Bill Beveridge, Detroit’s goalie in 1929-30, made 37 saves. Earl Roche, who’d be a Red Wing in 1934-35, scored twice for Ottawa.
December 25, 1932: Chicago Blackhawks 0 at Detroit Red Wings 4
In their first holiday game as the Red Wings, three first-period goals were more than enough to secure victory. The night saw Goodfellow collecting a goal and assist and John Ross Roach posting the shutout.
December 25, 1930: Toronto Maple Leafs 1 at Detroit Falcons 10
Perhaps the greatest Christmas present the team ever gave its fan base, a whipping of the Maple Leafs. Ebbie Goodfellow led the assault with four goals on a night that saw Detroit reaching double digits in goals for the first time in franchise history. Hay and Lewis each scored twice.
December 24, 1929: Detroit Cougars 3 at New York Americans 5
An original with Detroit in 1926, Johnny Sheppard scores twice for the Amerks as the rally from a 2-1 deficit for the win. Herbie Lewis scored Detroit’s first holiday goal.
December 25, 1926: Detroit Cougars 0 at Chicago Blackhawks 2
Future Detroit forward George Hay netted the game winner for Chicago. Dick Irvin also scored, with Hugh Lehman posting the shutout