Contributed by resident historian, Tilt’d Toledo
1973: February 7th; The Nordiques recorded their first shutout, 3-0 over the Philadelphia Blazers, in the inaugural WHA season. Serge Aubry collected one more, finishing the season 25-22-3 for the 10th place Nords (33-40-5), in the 12-team league. Despite the strong showing, Aubry would go on to lose his starting job the following season to his young backup, Richard Brodeur. Before carrying the Vancouver Canucks to the 1982 Stanley Cup Finals, Brodeur would guide Québec to two AVCO Cup Finals, winning one in 1977.
1974: February 6th; Aubry recorded his third and final career shutout for the Nords (3-0 over the New England Whalers), before being shipped to Cincinnati 16 months later. The Québec crease was becoming crowded with two youngsters taking time away from the elder Aubry, who finished the season 11-11-2 for the 7th place Nordiques. In spite of their winning record, the team once again missed the playoffs due to finishing 5th in the Eastern Division.
1977: February 4th; The Nords were beaten 7-0 in Birmingham by the Bulls, marking the worst shutout that they had suffered in their five-year existence. A loss two nights earlier had sent Québec spiralling on a 4-8 run that put a damper on their 31-16-1 start. After finishing second in the division the previous season with 104 points, the Nordiques ran away with their second Canadian Division title in three years, with only 97 points (47-31-3), before heading into the new playoff alignment. The Nords won their only AVCO Cup by defeating the reigning Canadian Division champs (and defending Cup champs), the Winnipeg Jets, who had been moved to the Western Division at the start of the season.
1981: February 7th; The Nordiques beat the Flyers 5-3, establishing the franchise’s first 4-game winning streak in the NHL. Former Los Angeles Kings’ coach Robbie Ftorek opened the scoring for Québec on a feed from current Kings’ coach, Terry Murray. The WHA’s all-time leading scorer, Marc Tardif, made it 2-0 with a power play marker assisted by Peter Stastny and former 75-goal scorer, Réal Cloutier. Bobby Clarke got Philly on the board with a pass from former Conn Smythe winner, Reggie Leach. In the second period, Leach tied it up with assists going to the Ottawa Senators’ first modern day GM, Mel Bridgman, and former Flyers’ GM, Clarke. Anton Stastny regained the lead for the Nords on the power play, with another helper going to Cloutier, the 1977 AVCO Cup hero. Peter Stastny then scored what turned out to be the game winner on a 4-on-3 power play, with Ken Linesman and Brian Propp in the box. Anton added an insurance goal, with help from Ftorek and Michel Goulet. Québec’s fourth power play goal came after current Flyers’ GM, Paul Holmgren, was serving a high-sticking major. In all, there were 89 minutes in penalties handed out, which seems about right for a Flyers game. Peter Stastny recorded the game’s only Gordie Howe hat trick.
1983: February 1st; The Nordiques beat the Hartford Whalers 12-2, establishing the franchise record for most goals in a game. The feat was equalled on October 20th, 1984 as the Nords won in Toronto 12-3 and again on December 5th, 1995 as Colorado beat San Jose 12-2. The victory over the Whalers marked their seventh win in eight games for the Québec team that would struggle down the stretch and fall to .500 (34-34-12), which was only good for 4th place in the Adams Division. A first round exit awaited the Nordiques, at the hands of the President’s Trophy winners, the Boston Bruins.
1990: February 6th; The tables were turned on the Nords, who lost 12-2 in Washington, establishing the franchise record for most goals allowed in a game. The humiliating loss came towards the end of a record 11-game losing streak (a record that would be beaten the following season), as well as coming near the beginning of a franchise record 18-game road-losing streak (a record that stands to this day). As miserable as their season had been up until that point (.226 Win %), they would actually get worse down the stretch on their way to the Owen Nolan sweepstakes. They closed the season going a sickening 3-31-1, despite Sakic’s first 100-point campaign.
1995: February 2nd; Québec suffered their first loss of the season, before regrouping and winning the next seven games. I’ll just let that sink in for a second. Yes the Nordiques lost their first game of the season on Groundhog Day. Who cares if the season only began at the would-be All-Star break? The 5-0 start was the best in nine years, which was impressive even for a team that lost their season-opener only once since the 70s. Their eventual 12-1 start a couple of weeks later still stands as their highest recorded season-to-date Win %, excluding all of the early October 1.000 marks, of course. Two and a half months later, the Nords were no more. Victims of the strike, and the resulting lack of a salary cap or revenue sharing, the team that finished first in the Eastern Conference was forced to move west.
1999: February 7th; The Avalanche shutout the Stars in Dallas 3-0, extending their winning streak to twelve games, a new franchise record. Their previous record was eight wins in a row. The win also established a new franchise record for the longest road-winning streak at seven games, as well as equalled a two-year old franchise record for the longest undefeated streak. It was Patrick Roy’s third shutout in ten games and fifth of the season. Dallas would have their revenge, however, beating the Avs in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals.
2003: February 3rd; Colorado acquired Chris McAllister from the Flyers for a 2003 sixth round pick, which Philly used to draft a guy named Ville Hostikka, who remains in Finland to this day. McAllister went on to play 14 games for the Avalanche that Spring and 34 games the following season, before being traded to the Rangers for Matthew Barnaby. It is because of shrewd little deals like these two trades, that Pierre Lacroix has been so successful in building a strong franchise.
2006: February 7th; David Aebischer celebrated his 28th birthday by defeating the Oilers 5-2 in Colorado. A week later, he was off to Torino to represent Switzerland at the Olympics, where he went undefeated in four appearances. He beat a star-studded Czech Republic team that featured Hejduk and Rucinsky, along with Jagr, Hemsky, Elias, Prospal, Erat, Lang, Straka, Vokoun and Hasek, to name a few. Switzerland finished second in Group A, ahead of Canada. With Martin Gerber in net, they lost in the Quarterfinals to the eventual gold medallists from Sweden. The Swiss finished in 6th place, ahead of both Canada and the United States, while Aebischer tied for second in the tournament with a .940 Save %. Budaj finished in 4th place, also ahead of Brodeur. Two weeks later, Aebischer was on the Habs.
2009: February 7th; The Avs failed to beat the lowly St. Louis Blues, making me want to toss my cookies.