WHICH GOALTENDERS HAVE RECORDED SHUTOUTS IN THEIR NHL/WHA DEBUT?
As of this writing, twenty-three National Hockey League goaltenders (and three World Hockey Association
goaltenders) have started their NHL/WHA careers with a bang, recording a shutout in their league
||November 16, 1926
||November 15, 1928
||January 30, 1937
||October 11, 1953
||December 17, 1955
||January 14, 1956
||November 2, 1957
||December 23, 1967
||October 15, 1972
||New York (WHA)
||January 14, 1973
||December 29, 1973
||October 11, 1974
||December 14, 1974
||San Diego (WHA)
||October 26, 1978
||March 6, 1979
||February 26, 1984
||November 1, 1985
||November 14, 1996
||November 28, 2001
||January 8, 2003
||October 12, 2005
||October 21, 2006
||April 1, 2009
||April 7, 2014
||November 16, 2014
||November 30, 2015
INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE NOTES:
- While playing with the New York Rangers on November 16, 1926,
Hal Winkler shut out the Montreal
Maroons, 1-0. Winkler gets an asterisk here, because he had played several years in the
big league WCHL/WHL with Edmonton and Calgary before moving to the National Hockey League.
- On November 15, 1928, Cecil "Tiny" Thompson
and the Boston Bruins shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates, 1-0. This was just the start of a great
career for Thompson, of course - a career that saw him inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame
in 1959 (after tallying eighty more regular-season NHL shutouts, and seven more in the postseason.
- Alfie Moore of the New York Americans
whitewashed the Montreal Canadiens, 4-0, on January 30, 1937. The thirty-one year old struggled
to stay in the NHL after that, playing just twenty-three more games in the League (including three
playoff games). He never did record another shutout (then again, one NHL shutout is far better than
most of us will ever do).
- Dave Gatherum filled in for an injured
Terry Sawchuk on October 11, 1953, and he
and the Detroit Red Wings blanked Toronto, 4-0, with Gatherum making 22 saves. Gatherum would carry the streak into his next game
(October 16), and his streak of 100 minutes, 21 seconds to start a National Hockey League career
without a goal was a League record until late 2011. Despite allowing just three goals on 88 shots in
his three-game fill-in assignment, Gatherum never played in the NHL again.
- Bob Perreault of the Montreal Canadiens
shut down the Chicago Black Hawks, 5-0, on December 17, 1955. Perreault made 18 saves. Twenty-four at the time, Perreault
popped up in the NHL every now and then, but enjoyed a long minor-league career before reappearing
with the WHA's Los Angeles Sharks for one game in 1972-73.
- Claude Pronovost may be best known for his
hockey-playing brothers, Jean (who played fourteen NHL seasons) and Marcel (who played twenty-one).
However, Pronovost has some history of his own - on January 14, 1956, Claude was loaned by the
Montreal Canadiens to the Boston Bruins. To return the favor, Pronovost and the Bruins shut out
Montreal, 2-0, with Pronovost making 31 saves.
- On November 2, 1957, Marcel Paille and the
New York Rangers shut out Boston, 5-0 (with 23 saves for Paille). Paille struggled to stay in the six-team NHL, but did
record a 207:27 shutout streak with the AHL's Springfield Indians in 1961-62.
- Andre Gill was brought up to the Boston Bruins
when both Boston netminders, Ed Johnston and
Gerry Cheevers, were felled with injuries.
On December 23, 1967, Andre recorded a 4-0 blanking of the New York Rangers, with Gill making an impressive 41 saves. Andre spent most of
his hockey career with the AHL's Hershey Bears, but did play two seasons with the WHA's Chicago
- Pete Donnelly is the first member of this
list to make his big league debut in the new World Hockey Association. Donnelly made his WHA debut
on October 15, 1972, and he and the New York Raiders shut down Philadelphia, 5-0.
- In Wayne Thomas' debut with the Montreal
Canadiens, he shut out (with 20 saves) Vancouver, 3-0, on January 14, 1973. Thomas was a 1970s fixture in the
NHL, with stops in Montreal, Toronto, and the New York Rangers.
- After a standout career at the University of Denver,
Ron Grahame joined the World Hockey
Association's Houston Aeros in December, 1973. On the 29th of December, Ron and the Aeros knocked
off the Chicago Cougars, 3-0. Ron would spend four seasons in Houston before jumping to the NHL
with Boston, Los Angeles, and Quebec.
- Gary Simmons and the California Seals
shut down (and shut out) the Atlanta Flames, 3-0, on October 11, 1974. Simmons made 24 saves for the victory. Simmons played five seasons
in the bigs.
- Bob Blanchet joined the World Hockey
Association's San Diego Mariners in time for their December 14, 1974 contest against the Indianapolis
Racers. Blanchet and San Diego shut down the Racers, 2-0.
- Mario Lessard received great goal support -
six goals - as he and the Los Angeles Kings shut out the Buffalo Sabres, 6-0, on October 26, 1978, with Lessard making 18 saves.
Lessard spent his entire six-season NHL career with the Kings.
- On March 6, 1979, the diminutive (five-foot-five) Robbie
Moore and the Philadelphia Flyers shut out (with 22 saves) the Colorado Rockies, 5-0. Moore spent much of his time
in the American Hockey League, after a standout collegiate career at the University of Michigan.
- The highly-touted Mario Gosselin made his
Quebec Nordiques debut on February 26, 1984 (shortly after the Winter Olympics), and he and the
Nordiques shut out St. Louis, 4-0 (with Gosselin making 26 saves). Gosselin had a long and winding career in the League, mostly
- Daren Puppa's National Hockey League debut,
on November 1, 1985, was a daunting one, in Edmonton against the two-time defending Stanley Cup
champion Oilers. Puppa stopped thirty-seven Edmonton shots in a 2-0 win. Puppa had a long NHL
career in Buffalo, Toronto, and Tampa Bay, playing the star role with the Lightning late in his
- Not only did Mike Fountain shut out the
home town New Jersey Devils, 3-0, on November 14, 1996, the Vancouver rookie nearly scored on an
empty New Jersey net. Fountain stopped forty Devil shots in the win.
- After playing multiple seasons in Finland, Jussi
Markkanen joined the Edmonton Oilers, and received his first start on November 28, 2001. Markkanen
started off strong, stopping twenty-seven Mighty Ducks of Anaheim shots in a 2-0 victory. He finished his career in Europe recently, with his most notable NHL performance being his role in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals.
- Michael Leighton may have the most impressive
performance in his first National Hockey League game. On January 8, 2003, Leighton and the Chicago Blackhawks
duelled Zac Bierk and the Phoenix Coyotes,
with both squads putting up shutouts in a 0-0 draw. Leighton stopped 31 shots.
- Twenty-four year old Yann Danis became
the third Montreal Canadiens netminder to record a shutout in his debut on October 12, 2005. Facing
the Atlanta Thrashers, Danis stopped thirty-two shots in a 2-0 win.
- Mike Smith has a unique feat on the list - Mike
made his National Hockey League debut on October 21, 2006, with Smith and the Dallas Stars shutting out
the hometown Phoenix Coyotes, 4-0, with Smith making twenty-two saves. Three years earlier, Smith not only recorded
a shutout in his professional debut (with Lexington of the ECHL), he also scored a goal into the
- Highly regarded in the 2004 NHL draft, Al
Montoya took a few years to make the big leagues, but Montoya made the best of his first
opportunity. With his Phoenix Coyotes in Denver to play the Colorado Avalanche on April 1, 2009,
Montoya stopped twenty-three Avalanche shots to earn a 3-0 victory.
- John Gibson's league debut was much anticipated, and Gibson was up to the task.
On April 7, 2014, Gibson and the Anaheim Ducks shut out the hometown Vancouver Canucks, 3-0, with Gibson stopping 18 shots.
At 20 years, 297 days, Gibson became the youngest since Puppa to record
a shutout in his league debut. On May 10, Gibson also recorded a shutout in his playoff debut, knocking off the Los Angeles Kings in a 2-0, 28-save
performance. Gibson became the first goaltender since Thompson to record shutouts in both their regular-season and postseason NHL debuts.
- Troy Grosenick set a (known) National Hockey League record for saves in an NHL debut shutout, turning aside 45 Carolina shots in a 2-0 San Jose victory on November 16, 2014. The undrafted goaltender out of Union College stopped nearly as many shots in the first period (sixteen) as his counterpart did all game.
- Garret Sparks turned aside twenty-four Edmonton Oiler shots in a 3-0 Toronto victory
on November 30, 2015. Sparks held the game scoreless in the first period, as the Oilers outshot the Maple Leafs, 8-3.
WHO IS NOT ON THIS LIST (AND WHY)?
- Earl Robertson and the New York Americans shut out the Chicago
Black Hawks by a 3-0 margin on November 4, 1937, Robertson's regular-season National Hockey League debut. However, Robertson
made his official league debut in the Stanley Cup playoffs the previous spring, replacing an injured Norm Smith
for the Detroit Red Wings. Robertson won the Cup with the Red Wings, which precludes his appearance on this list (although if one counts strictly
regular season debuts, he should be included).
- On March 27, 1986, Sam St. Laurent of the New Jersey
Devils stopped twenty-four shots, blanking Rick Wamsley and
the St. Louis Blues by a razor-thin 1-0 margin. Although this was St. Laurent's first NHL start, the twenty-seven year old
appeared in relief of Chico Resch earlier in the 1985-86 campaign.
- In his first National Hockey League start for the San Jose Sharks,
Evgeni Nabokov stopped 39 of 39 shots
in a scoreless tie against hometown Colorado and
Patrick Roy (on January 19, 2000). However, Nabokov had previously
played twice for the Sharks in relief of Steve
Shields, and Nabokov gave up one goal on nineteen shots in those appearances.
- The Minnesota Wild's Matt Hackett broke
Gatherum's National Hockey League record on December 8, 2011, going the first 102:48 of his career
prior to allowing a goal to Dustin Penner of the Los Angeles Kings. However, in Hackett's
NHL debut, he replaced Josh Harding (upper-body
injury) 1:11 into the game. Consequently, Hackett did not earn a shutout in his NHL debut (and as of this
writing, he still does not have a National Hockey League shutout to his name).
- There are no goaltenders who recorded shutouts in their first National Hockey League game following prior World Hockey Association experience. It is possible that the reverse
has occured (goaltenders with past NHL experience who recorded shutouts in their WHA debut). I have none listed above, and believe there to be none, but would love to hear evidence
to the contrary.
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