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On This Date in Sports December 28, 1944: Eight Point Rocket

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Maurice Richard becomes the first player in NHL history to have eight points in one game as he scores five goals and has three assists. The eight points spur the Montreal Canadiens to a 9-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings at the Montreal Forum. It was part of a historic season for Rocket Richard as he became the first player to score 50 goals in a season.

No player cast a more imposing shadow over his city than Maurice “Rocket” Richard, who was born and raised in Montreal and became the unquestioned idle for anyone living in the French-Speaking city and rooting for the Canadiens. Born August 4, 1921, Richard was known for his speed on the ice, though his career sputtered at the start as he battled injuries in his first season. After a solid second season, Maurice Richard set new standards in scoring in the 1944/45 season as he became the first player to score 50 goals in a season, doing so in a 50-game season.

It was a busy day for Maurice Richard, as he moved his family into a new apartment earlier in the day and arrived tired at the Montreal Forum as the Canadiens hosted the Detroit Red Wings. Coached by Dick Irvin, the Canadiens were flying high in December atop the six-team standings at 14-4-2, while Detroit was holding steady at 13-5-3 under Jack Adams.

Maurice Richard had a goal and an assist in the first period. In the second period, he demonstrated his explosiveness with two goals in eight seconds to accomplish the hat trick. Richard added another goal, an assist in the second period, and a six-point night as the third period began. Maurice Richard gets a fifth goal midway through the third and makes history by assisting on Elmer Lach’s goal with 13 seconds left to complete the eight-point night. When the fans learned that Richard had set a record, the Montreal Forum erupted with a long ovation.

Since Maurice Richard’s eight-point night 15, others have accomplished the feat. The second player to do it was Bert Olmstead, a member of the Canadiens, in 1954. Darryl Sittler of the Toronto Maple Leafs is the only player to top eight points, scoring ten points in a 1976 game. The 1980s was the golden age of the goal scorer as ten players had eight-point nights. Wayne Gretzky did it twice with the Edmonton Oilers, while Mario Lemieux had three eight-point games with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Only one player, Sam Gagner of the Edmonton Oilers, has done it since the 80s, accomplishing eight points in a 2012 game.