While playing with the New York Rangers on Novemnber 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. 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. 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. On November 2, 1957, Marcel Paille and the New York Rangers shut out Boston, 5-0. 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. Andre spent most of his hockey career with the AHL's Hershey Bears, but did play two seasons with the WHA's Chicago Cougars.
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 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 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. 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 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. Gosselin had a long and winding career in the League, mostly with Quebec.
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 tenure.
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 is now playing in Switzerland, after nearly leading the Oilers to the 2006 Stanley Cup.
Michael Leighton may have the most impressive performance 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 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 Dayton net.
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.
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).
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