Tanner Pearson's empty-net goal in the Vancouver Canucks' 5-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken last night (December 1) might not have been a decisive marker.
But it did mark one of the rare occasions when a Canuck achieved what hockey fans call a Gordie Howe hat trick: a goal, an assist, and a fight in the same game.
(For thoe not familiar with hockey terminology, the term hat trick normally denotes the scoring of three goals in a single game; a so-called natural hat trick has a player scoring three consecutive goals in the same game.)
The veteran left winger's first-ever Howe milestone came after he fought the Kraken's towering defenceman Carson Soucy at the start of the game, assisted on Conor Garland's third-period goal, then netted his team's closer.
Speaking to the media after the game, Pearson, who has never scored a regular hat trick in his 10-year NHL career, had this to say of his accomplishment: "Yeah, actually, I think it's pretty cool. Starting my career off, I probbaly would have put more money on myself to get a hat trick before a Gordie Howe...to say you did it is, I think, pretty cool."
(A lack of reliable records for Gordie Howe hat tricks means the following account of Canuck players who have reached that plateau may be incomplete. Please feel free to set the record straight in the comments section below this story.)
Canuck captain Bo Horvat earned the unofficial accomplishment in a February 2020 9-3 rout against Vancouver nemesis Boston, fighting Charlie Coyle. And beloved former captain Trevor Linden did the same in December 1991 during a loss to the Maple Leafs when he took on Gary Leeman.
Former Canuck defenseman Kevin Bieksa also did the deed in a 2011 playoff game against the San Jose Sharks by giving Patrick Marleau a lesson in chucking knuckles, and Travis Hamonic dropped the gloves with Alex Chiasson in a 6-3 win over the Oilers last May to hit for the hockey cycle.
Forward Denis Pederson also netted the trifecta for Vancouver in October 2000.
The feat—allegedly given its name by a New York City sportswriter in the 1950s—is named after legendary NHL Hall of Famer Gordie Howe, who was noted for both his hockey skills and his abrasive style of play.
Howe himself, who played in the NHL for a record 26 seasons and scored a total of 1,850 points, only managed the feat twice, both times in the 1953-'54 season and both against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The record for the most ever Gordie Howe hat tricks in the NHL (which does not officially track the statistic) belongs to former player Rick Tocchet, with 18. Former league director of player safety Brendan Shanahan is next, with 17.
One of Howe's two hockey-pro sons, Marty, told sportswriter Luke Fox that the name given his dad's double accomplishment might have missed the mark.
“Yeah, he’s only had a couple of them," he said. "I don’t know who called it that. The Gordie Howe hat trick should really be a goal, an assist, and a cross-check to the face. That might be more accurate.”