The date was November 2nd. That night in 1975, two American hockey teams faced off, and in 2016, two Canadian teams did. For both games, the winning team wore red and the opposing blue, and both winning goalies, wearing No. 31, had 42 saves.
Ed Giacomin came into the 1975 game at Madison Square Gardens after ten seasons playing for the New York Rangers. He became popular with Rangers fans for his acrobatic and wandering (outside the crease) style. Giacomin imitated Jacques Plante’s style of stopping the puck behind the net, but he was one of the last to use a mask like Plante. When New York placed him on waivers Halloween night in 1975, he already had the franchise’s records for career wins (267) and shutouts (49). With that kind of record, the Detroit Red Wings immediately snapped him up, and instead of No. 1, he began wearing No. 31. Giacomin felt “such an empty feeling” because he “really loved being a Ranger and being in New York” and “never felt like I was a Red Wing.” His first game with the Red Wings, on November 2, happened to be back in New York. The fans welcomed him home cheering “Eddie” loud enough to drown out the national anthem, and his old teammates apologized whenever they scored on him, which amounted to four goals. Giacomin’s 42 saves in 46 shots on goal gave him a save percentage of .913 compared to his replacement, John Davidson, who only saved 24 in 30 shots for a percentage of .800. The Red Wings defeated the Rangers 6-4, and the Rangers missed the playoffs for the first time since Giacomin began starting in their net. Unfortunately, Giacomin only spent three seasons as the backup goalie for Detroit before they let him go on January 16, 1978.
Carey Price, in his tenth season with the Montreal Canadiens in 2016, minded the net at his home arena, the Bell Centre. Price’s teammate, Torrey Mitchell, told reporters, “I’ve been on other teams, and every time you come in to Montreal you’ve got that, I don’t want to call it a block, but you know you’re trying to score on Carey Price, best goalie in the world. It’s not easy. It’s definitely in the back of your mind before the game.” The visiting Vancouver Canucks must have been intimidated because despite outshooting the Canadiens by quite a lot, they could not score on Price. He earned his first shutout of the season, his 37th overall, with the final score of 3-0. The win meant that the Canadiens had the best 10-game start in their own history (9-0-1) and were the only NHL team without a regulation loss to that point in the season. They had bested their previous season record by one point, and the best 10-game start before that was back in 1943-44 (8-0-2). Price explained that their disappointment with the previous season’s finish led them to want to “get off to a hot start” to prove themselves. For having succeeded, he said, “For sure we’re proud of it.”
At the end of his career, Giacomin had a save percentage of .902, a 2.82 goals against average, and 54 shutouts. Still an active player, Price currently has a save percentage of .918, a GAA of 2.46, and 41 shutouts.
- Arpon Basu, “Carey Price, Canadiens shut out Canucks,” NHL.com, November 3rd, 2016, https://www.nhl.com/news/vancouver-canucks-montreal-canadiens-game-recap/c-283355976.