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Top 5 NHL Holiday Moments

From Christmas Day games to bouts with the Soviets, the end-of-year Holiday period has had no shortage of historic hockey battles. Here's a look at five of the most memorable moments.
Gritty as Santa Claus

Although we don't typically see NHL hockey on Christmas Day, the NHL does have a long-standing history with the end-of-year holiday period.

Let's take a look at five of the best moments that the league has produced while the stockings were hung up with care:

Gordie Howe's six-point night on Christmas Day 

Christmas Day 1956: a day that Red Wings fans will never forget. 

In a game against the New York Rangers, Gordie Howe put up a career-high six points in an 8-1 victory over the Rangers. 

Howe's leading evening would lead to his 12th hat-trick in a career that would continue long after the league ended the yearly tradition of games on Dec. 25. 

The Canadiens and Red Army's New Years Eve Thriller

From the mid-1970s to the early 1990s, NHL teams would square off in exhibition games against visiting teams from the Soviet Union. 

The most famous clash between a Soviet team and an NHL side came in 1975 when the legendary Red Army took on the Montreal Canadiens in the Montreal Forum. The game was full of rosters containing future hockey Hall of Famers in it, with the likes of Guy LaFleur, Vladislav Tretiak, Ken Dryden, and Valeri Kharlamov taking center stage.

The Red Army battled back from two separate deficits and make the most of their 13 shots on Dryden in a 3-3 tie. Many fans consider it to be one of the most exciting battles in hockey history, and it was an incredible way to finish the calendar year. 

The Last Christmas Goal

A Christmas Day game hasn't been played in 50 years, with the last match coming back in 1971. That day, the New York Rangers played the Minnesota North Stars, with the late game pitting the Los Angeles Kings against local rivals, the California Golden Seals. 

The Seals took a 3-1 victory on the road, but who scored the final goal to end a decades-long tradition? Stan Gilbertson's empty netter would bring down the curtain on the Christmas day games. Gilbertson's career would only span six NHL seasons but he'll always be linked to an interesting piece of hockey trivia. 

The Christmas Eve Stalemate

Goals were almost always a guaranteed sight for games on the biggest holiday week of the year, but in 1949, the only thing anyone saw was two goaltenders having a Christmas Eve duel. 

The New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens battled to a 0-0 tie, the only scoreless game in NHL history on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Montreal's Bill Durnan and New York's Chuck Rayner stood tall in net for both teams in what was considered one of the greatest games of the 1949-50 season. 

The Soviets Take On The Young Oilers 

On Dec. 29, 1982, the always-strong Soviets would take on the powerhouse Edmonton Oilers - a match that couldn't have been much better.

A sold-out Northlands Coliseum crowd was in attendance to watch their young dynamic squad beat the Soviets 4-3 on the strength of two power-play goals from Wayne Gretzky and 32 saves from Andy Moog in the victory. 

Even though this game was an exhibition, the USSR-Oilers game saw plenty of the big names taking part in this one. The Soviets had to play without the legendary Vladislav Tretiak, but had most of the team's usual stars.

The Oilers impressed the Russians and showed many that Edmonton was on the upswing as the next contender for titles. 

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