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New York Americans (not Rangers) played Canadiens in MSG opener in 1925

The Canadiens were back at Madison Square Garden for a big game Saturday night, the latest chapter in the famed franchise’s long history with the building.

In fact, the Habs played in the first NHL game in the history of the Garden — on Dec. 15, 1925.

The historical wrinkle is that the Rangers did not join them that night. The New York Americans were the Canadiens’ first Garden opponent. The Rangers franchise came along a year later.

That night also served as the official, gala opening of the then-new Garden on Eighth Avenue, the one that would be used until the current one opened in 1968.

The Canadiens would win, 3-1, but the real story was the spectacle of an event that attracted sports fans as well as the elite of New York society, with many women arriving wearing furs and jewels.

The event’s proceeds benefited the Neurological Institute Society, but many people came mostly to be seen, and also out of curiosity over a sport The New York Times called “jaded New York’s newest plaything.”

Hockey has been a Garden fixture ever since.

“No pastime in New York’s long list of pastimes has ever been launched under such favorable circumstances,” the Times’ Harry Cross wrote that night.

“New York is going to like its hockey and like it immensely,” Cross later added. “Much water will flow under the Brooklyn Bridge before New York witnesses so much fuss and ostentation as that which attended the Garden’s gala opening and the introduction of pro hockey in Gotham.”

New York Sports