National Hockey League lore
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National Hockey League lore is a collection of information regarding the National Hockey League that fans and personalities retain and share as memorable or otherwise notable during its history.
The NHL was formed on November 26, 1917 after several team owners in the National Hockey Association had a falling out with Toronto Blueshirts owner Eddie Livingstone due to certain business practices. Being unable to kick him out of the league due to NHA rules forbidding such practice, they formed the NHL instead, leaving Livingstone and his Blueshirts in a one-team league. At the time, the Stanley Cup was contended by league champions across several leagues; the NHL, the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, and the Western Canada Hockey League were among them. Once the PCHA and WCHL merged and ultimately folded in 1926, the NHL adopted the Stanley Cup as the de facto league championship. Over the next decade, a handful of teams would fold, leaving six teams, colloquially termed the Original Six: Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, and Chicago Blackhawks. The NHL would remain a six-team league until their first major expansion in 1967, which doubled the size of the league. From there, more teams would slowly trickle into the league, especially after the merger with the World Hockey Association in 1979. With a couple of more minor expansions in the 1990s, the NHL operates with 31 teams today.
During its history, the NHL has had many notable games, players, teams, goals, dynasties, and various other events which have become memorable and/or notable to fans. These have effectively established a culture of lore shared among them.
The following is a list of events deemed notable or memorable to the history of the National Hockey League:
- December 19, 1917: The First NHL Game: One and Done (Montreal Wanderers 10, Toronto Arenas 9)
- The Wanderers were established in 1903, and had garnered success in several hockey leagues (including the National Hockey Association) before joining the NHL in 1917. The Wanderers played the first overall game in NHL history against the Arenas. Dave Ritchie of the Wanderers scored the first goal in NHL history one minute into its first game. Then, his teammate Harry Hyland became the first NHL player to score five goals in one game. Another tally by Ritchie in the third period helped the Wanderers to a 10–9 win over the Torontos. On this same day, the Montreal Canadiens played the Ottawa Senators. In this game, Joe Malone would then match Hyland's feat, becoming the second player in NHL history to score five goals in a game in their 7–4 win over the Senators.
- The Canadiens went on to become the most successful team in NHL history in terms of both winning percentage and Stanley Cup championships. The Wanderers would not share the same success. They lost their next four games, and their home stadium of Montreal Arena then burned down on January 2, 1918. While the Canadiens also played at the Montreal Arena, they were able to move back to Jubilee Arena after the fire, whereas the floundering Wanderers had few options. Ultimately, the Wanderers had to disband. Their next two games were logged as defaults to their opponents, and the rest of their games were removed from the schedule. The Wanderers stand as both the winner of the first game in NHL history, and the only team to have only one win in the history of the league.
- April 1–5, 1919: Stanley Cup Finals Cancelled, Joe Hall Dies (Seattle Metropolitans vs. Montreal Canadiens)
- The Montreal Canadiens and Seattle Metropolitans were the league champions of the NHL and PCHA respectively. They met in the 1919 Stanley Cup Finals, where the Metropolitans were defending Cup champions. The series started on March 22, after five games was tied 2–2. Game 4 ended in a tie, which ultimately led to agreements to play later games until a winner was determined.
- The deciding game 6 was scheduled for April 1, but would not be played, as several players on both teams became seriously ill due to the outbreak of influenza, which was spread worldwide by this point. Stars such as Joe Hall, Newsy Lalonde, Billy Coutu, Louis Berlinguette, Jack McDonald, and manager George Kennedy of Montreal were among those hospitalized or otherwise immobile from sickness. Seattle, despite the same infliction, was still healthy enough at this point to ice a team for game 6. Canadiens manager George Kennedy decided to forfeit game 6 and the series to Seattle, but Seattle manager Pete Muldoon refused to accept the Cup in such a manner, as it was uncontrollable circumstance that caused Montreal to forfeit.
- On April 5, Joe Hall died of pneumonia induced by his bout with the flu. George Kennedy was left permanently weakened by the flu, leading to his death in 1921. The series remained incomplete, and no team was awarded the Stanley Cup in 1919. There was no engraving for the 1919 series until the Cup redesign in 1948, in which text denoting the opponents and incompletion of the series was added. Joe Hall was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961. This remains the only Stanley Cup Finals never to be completed, and is one of two times in NHL history in which the Cup was never awarded.
- January 10, 1920: "14–7" (Montreal Canadiens 14, Toronto St. Patricks 7)
- The Montreal Canadiens met the Toronto St. Patricks in a game which would ultimately become the highest scoring NHL game in history. The final score was 14–7 in favor of Montreal, with 21 goals being scored between the two teams.
- January 31, 1920: Joe Malone's 7 Goal Game (Quebec Bulldogs 10, Toronto St. Patricks 6)
- Early NHL superstar Joe Malone helped the Quebec Bulldogs to a 10–6 win over the Toronto St. Patricks by scoring an unprecedented 7 goals in the game. Malone was a prolific scorer, having already set the NHL record for most goals in a season during the 1917–18 season (44), and this was in fact not even his highest scoring career game. He scored 9 goals in game 1 of the 1913 Stanley Cup Finals against the Sydney Millionaires, which predated the NHL by five years. Nonetheless, his 7-goal mark on January 31 remains an NHL record to this day. He was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1950.
- March 3, 1920: "16–3" (Montreal Canadiens 16, Quebec Bulldogs 3)
- A few months after their marathon game against Toronto, the Montreal Canadiens would then set the record for most goals scored by a single team in a game. They defeated the Quebec Bulldogs by a final score of 16–3, setting a 13-goal differential between the winning and losing teams. This remains the most goals scored by a single team during a game in NHL history, though the margin-of-victory was surpassed in 1944.
- April 7, 1928: Lester Patrick: Coach, GM, Goaltender (New York Rangers 2, Montreal Maroons 1, Game 2, OT, Stanley Cup Finals)
- On April 7, 1928, game two of the 1928 Stanley Cup Finals was played against the New York Rangers and Montreal Maroons. At the time, New York trailed 1-0 in the series. This game was most remembered for the performance of Rangers' GM and coach, Lester Patrick. In the middle of the second period, starting goaltender Lorne Chabot sustained an eye injury after the puck had hit him. Back then, teams usually carried one goaltender and did not have any backup goalies. If that did happen, the game was halted until that goaltender was ready to continue. But then, Patrick decided to don the pads and become an emergency goaltender for the rest of the game. He then told his club, "Boys, don't let an old man down." His famous quote then inspired the Rangers to win 2-1 in overtime on a goal by Frank Boucher. In addition, Patrick became the oldest player to play in the Stanley Cup Finals at the age of 44. The Rangers would go on to win their first ever Stanley Cup in franchise history, winning the series in five games.
- April 10, 1934: Mush March's Overtime Stanley Cup Winner (Chicago Black Hawks 1, Detroit Red Wings 0, Game 4, 2OT, Stanley Cup Finals)
- In what was the first of many playoff matchups in what would become one of the NHL's most intense rivalries, these two midwest teams met in the 1934 Cup Finals. Both teams were vying for their first franchise Stanley Cup. Chicago won game 1 in double overtime 2–1, and the teams exchanged blowout victories in the next two games. Chicago took game two 4–1, and Detroit got their lone win of the series in game three, 5–2. Game 4 was the lowest scoring game of the series, with regulation ending deadlocked at 0–0. There would be no scoring until 10:05 of the second overtime, where Black Hawks forward Harold 'Mush' March scored the game and Cup winner for Chicago. This goal was the first overtime goal to win the Stanley Cup in NHL history.
- March 24–25, 1936: The Longest Game in NHL History (Detroit Red Wings 1, Montreal Maroons 0, Game 1, 6OT, Stanley Cup Semi-Finals)
- Three years after the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs played the longest game in NHL history at the time, the Red Wings and Maroons surpassed that mark. The two teams met each other during the best-of-five Semi-Finals. Game 1 was played at the Montreal Forum with a start time of March 24, 8:30 PM, and regulation ended in a 0–0 tie. It went on to six overtimes before a winner was declared, the second game in NHL history after the Bruins-Leafs game in 1933 to do so. Finally, at the 16:30 mark of the sixth overtime period, Red Wings forward Mud Bruneteau scored on Montreal goalie Lorne Chabot to end the game and take a 1–0 series lead for Detroit. The local time was March 25, 2:25 AM. The two teams played for 176:30, with 116:30 of that in overtime, almost three consecutive hockey games back-to-back-to-back. Lorne Chabot became notable for playing in the two longest NHL games ever played (he was in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs during their 1933 6OT win), with a 1–1 record between them. He made 66 saves in the game. Detroit goalie Normie Smith's 92 saves are still an NHL record. Detroit swept the series 3–0 and won their first franchise Stanley Cup. No NHL game has gone to six overtimes since.
- April 18, 1942: Toronto Pulls Off the Ultimate Comeback (Toronto Maple Leafs 3, Detroit Red Wings 1, Game 7, Stanley Cup Finals)
- The Maple Leafs and the Red Wings met in the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in 1942, with Detroit having won the 1936 matchup. The series began on April 4 in Toronto, where Detroit would win game one 3–2. They would then take game 2 by a 4–2 score, then would head back to Detroit and win game 3 at Olympia Stadium 5–2. Detroit was firmly in control of the series 3–0 at this point.
- With the Maple Leafs down three-games-to-none, the series began to shift dramatically. Toronto grinded away at Detroit, winning game 4 by a 4–3 score. They then scored 9 goals to Detroit's 3 in a game 5 blowout at Maple Leaf Gardens. Continuing the momentum that they had gained at this point, they blanked the Red Wings 3–0 in game 6 in Detroit, and became the second team in NHL history to even a best-of-seven series 3–3 after going into an 0–3 hole. This was also the first Stanley Cup Finals to reach seven games in history. Finally, Toronto closed out the series at home, with a 3–1 game 7 win, and had taken the 1942 Stanley Cup. This was the first comeback of this magnitude ever completed in North American professional sports, and to this date, the only one to have been accomplished during a championship round. Four other North American professional sports teams would replicate this feat: The 1975 New York Islanders, the 2004 Boston Red Sox (the only non-hockey team to pull this off), the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers, and the 2014 Los Angeles Kings. But the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs would go down in history as the first team to have ever done so.
- January 23, 1944: "15–0" (Detroit Red Wings 15, New York Rangers 0)
- World War II left many NHL teams depleted of talent, and the 1943–44 New York Rangers especially felt the effects. They started the season going 0-11, and didn't win their first game until December 12, where they had compiled a 1–14–1 record by that point. When they met the Red Wings for their sixth meeting of the season, the regular season series was 4–1 in Detroit's favor. New York had just come off of their sixth and what would be their final win of the season over the Toronto Maple Leafs 5–3 at Maple Leaf Gardens the night before. The game, played on January 23, 1944 in Detroit, would go on to make history. Detroit scored 15 goals in the game, and had blanked the Rangers 15–0. The final score remains the largest margin of victory for an NHL game in history. Detroit had scored five goals in the final six minutes of the game, running up the score after already having 10–0 lead. They had in fact almost ended the game 16–0, (which would have matched the 1920 Montreal Canadiens single-game tally), but the final shot had entered the Rangers net just after the final second ran off the clock. Red Wings forward Syd Howe had scored a hat trick in the final six minutes of the third period, and he continued to taunt the Rangers a week later on February 3, scoring another six goals in a 12–2 drubbing. The Rangers finished the season 6–35–5 with only 17 points, which was also an NHL record for fewest points by a team in a season under the scheduling of the era.
- March 18, 1945: Rocket Richard's 50 Goals in 50 Games (Montreal Canadiens 4, Boston Bruins 2)
- Maurice Richard emerged as an NHL superstar in the 1940s. He had an especially noteworthy campaign in the 1944–45 NHL season. Richard first broke Joe Malone's record for most goals in a season (44), which he set during the inaugural NHL season in 1917–18. Richard netted his 45th goal on February 25, 1945 in a 5–2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Malone was present at the game, and symbolically presented Richard with the record-breaking puck.
- Players became increasingly violent towards Richard in efforts to prevent him from scoring further. For a time, this seemed to work, as Richard would go through an eight-game stretch without scoring. However, by the final game of the regular season, Richard amassed 49 goals. This contest on March 18 against the Boston Bruins saw Richard, at the 2:05 mark of the third period, shoot one past Bruins goalie Harvey Bennett for his 50th goal in 50 games. Montreal defeated Boston 4–2, and Richard set a benchmark for outstanding offense which continues to this day.
- 50 goals in 50 games is a rare accomplishment in the NHL, even as the regular season had expanded to 82 games. Four other players would join Richard in the 50 in 50 club, but the first to do it after him wouldn't come until 35 years later when on January 24, 1981, Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders scored twice within the last five minutes of the 50th game of the season to match Richard's accomplishment. As with Joe Malone before him, Richard was on hand to congratulate Bossy. Maurice Richard was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961. Wayne Gretzky, on the other hand, would beat Bossy's record by scoring 50 goals in 39 games.
- April 23, 1950: Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals Goes to Overtime (Detroit Red Wings 4, New York Rangers 3, Game 7, 2OT, Stanley Cup Finals)
- Detroit and New York met in the 1950 Stanley Cup Finals, both teams seeking their respective franchise fourth Cup victory. The series started on April 11 in Detroit, and the teams would exchange lopsided victories with one another. Detroit won game one 4–1, New York won game two 3–1, Detroit won game three 4–0, New York won games 4 and 5 in overtime, 4–3 and 2–1 respectively on goals by Don Raleigh. Game 6 was a 5–4 Detroit win, and game 7 would take place at Olympia Stadium in Detroit.
- Game 7 regulation ended in a 3–3 tie, and the first overtime came and went with no winner. At the 8:31 mark of the second overtime period, Red Wings forward Pete Babando scored the game and Cup winning goal. He became the first NHL player to score a game-winning goal in overtime of game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. This remains the only Stanley Cup Finals game 7 to reach double overtime. This was also the first game in which the winning team paraded the Stanley Cup around the ice after victory. As Red Wings captain Ted Lindsay picked the Cup up off of the presentation table, lifted it over his head, and skated around Olympia rink with it. It would become an annual tradition from that point on.
- Four years later, game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals would reach overtime again. During the 1954 Stanley Cup Finals, the Red Wings and the Montreal Canadiens accomplished this, with Red Wings forward Tony Leswick scoring the game-winning goal off of Canadiens goalie Gerry McNeil off of a dump-in, a 2–1 win. McNeil remains the only goalie in NHL history to give up the overtime Stanley Cup winning goal twice (also having done so in game 5 of the 1951 Stanley Cup Finals). No game sevens of the Stanley Cup Finals have reached overtime since.
- April 8, 1952: Rocket Richard: "The Most Beautiful Goal in the World" (Montreal Canadiens 3, Boston Bruins 1, Game 7, Stanley Cup Semi-Finals)
- The Bruins-Canadiens rivalry is one of the biggest in North American sports history. The Habs had won 4 out of 6 playoff matchups between Boston from their first postseason meeting in 1929 to the 1952 semi-final. The series started on March 25 in Montreal, with the Canadiens winning the first two games lopsidedly. Boston then came back and won the next three games in the series, before Montreal took a double-overtime win in game 6 to even the series and send it back to Montreal.
- Game 7 was tied 1–1 going into the second period, where Canadiens forward Maurice Richard became significantly injured during a collision with Bruins defenders Hal Laycoe and Leo Labine. He was knocked unconscious and lay bleeding on the ice before regaining consciousness and being helped to the locker room. Against doctor's advice, he chose to come back into the game (even after briefly losing consciousness for a second time in the locker room). While the two teams were at 4-on-4 with offsetting penalties, he took a pass from Emile Bouchard and flew past two Bruins forwards and eluding a poke check. There still stood three Bruins in his way: Bill Quackenbush, Bob Armstrong, and goalie Jim Henry. Quackenbush tried to press Richard off into the corner, away from the Bruins' net, but Richard slipped past him with a one-handed push off, made his way to the net, faked Henry out with a fake shot (drawing him to the left post), before burying the puck far corner. Richard scored the game winner, with Billy Reay adding an empty net assurance goal later in the period.
- April 15, 1952: Legend of the Octopus-Detroit's Perfect Playoff Run (Detroit Red Wings 3, Montreal Canadiens 0, Game 4, Stanley Cup Finals)
- The 1950s Detroit Red Wings were an NHL dynasty, winning the Stanley Cup 4 times in 6 seasons. The 1952 Stanley Cup Playoffs became a famous example of the team's notoriety. They first swept the defending Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs in four games, marking the first time that defending Stanley Cup champions were swept in the first round. They then took on a Montreal Canadiens team coming off of a seven-game series against their rival Boston Bruins. The series began on April 10 and ended on April 15, with Detroit sweeping the series in four games. Terry Sawchuk only gave up two goals in the series (one a piece in games 1 and 2), blanking the Canadiens in both games at Detroit's Olympia Stadium. Detroit became the first team to go undefeated in the playoffs since the 1935 Montreal Maroons. They remain the only team to do so in a strictly "best of-N" playoff format (as opposed to a two-game total goals series like the 1935 Maroons had played in the first two rounds).
- Pete and Jerry Cusimano, brothers and store owners of Eastern Market were in attendance during the Cup-winning game 4. They threw an octopus onto the ice, the eight tentacles signifying the eight wins needed to win the Stanley Cup at the time. This idea proved popular with fans, with the Legend of the Octopus becoming popular lore with the Red Wings and the NHL. To this extent, Detroit's unofficial mascot became a purple octopus named Al, and fans would begin throwing octopi on the ice during Detroit's resurgence during the 1990s. This also inspired several shorter-lived traditions with other teams throwing objects onto the ice that reflected their history. However, the NHL eventually put bans on such practices in place to reduce the amount of game delay taking place due to cleanup.
- February 2, 1954: The Prison Game (Detroit Red Wings 18, Marquette Prison Pirates 0)
- The idea for this game was derived in the summer of 1953 during a visit to Marquette Branch Prison in Marquette, Michigan. The trip was sponsored by Stroh Brewing Company, and attended by Red Wings general manager Jack Adams and team captain Ted Lindsay. Adams was then approached by incarcerated Purple Gang members Harry Keywell and Ray Bernstein (both Red Wings fans), who asked him about bringing the team in for an exhibition scrimmage. Adams and prison warden Emery Jacques accepted the idea. The inmates then organized a team, set up an outdoor rink, and Adams donated equipment for the inmates to use. The prison hired Leonard Brumm of the championship 1948 University of Michigan Wolverines ice hockey team as athletic director. The game was played on February 2, in what was reported as a good-hearted affair by all parties. The Red Wings jumped out to an 18–0 lead in the first period, and the subsequent score was not kept for the duration of the game. In the remaining two periods, the teams were split up, with Red Wings players playing on the Pirates, and vice versa. The game was the first Red Wings game to be played outdoors. The Pirates also proved to be a mainstay under Brumm, playing in organized hockey seasons afterward. After the game, the Red Wings received hand-made gifts from the inmates, and then played a later exhibition game against the Marquette Sentinels of the United States Hockey League before heading back home.
- March 17, 1955: Richard Riot
- St. Patrick's Day in 1955 saw a notable riot in protest of Montreal Canadiens star Maurice Richard being suspended for the season by NHL president Clarence Campbell.
- The gears were set in motion during an especially violent game between Montreal and their rival Boston Bruins on March 13. Richard was high-sticked by Bruins defensemen Hal Laycoe, in which he required five stitches. Richard became enraged, and attacked Laycoe, refusing to lay off even as linesmen attempted to restrain him. This led to Richard being corralled by linesman Cliff Thompson, who when he broke away, punched Thompson twice in the face. This triggered a match penalty, and eventually Richard's suspension for the remainder of the season.
- Montreal fans were enraged, considering the punishment too strict, although many others from around the league felt it justified. On March 17, the Canadiens met the Detroit Red Wings in a game in Montreal that saw protestors standing outside the Montreal Forum. The Red Wings built up a speedy 4–1 lead. NHL president Clarence Campbell was in attendance, and he was soon pelted with fruits, vegetables, and garbage by the irate Habs fans. Campbell was then assaulted by a fan with both a slap and a punch, and a tear gas bomb went off not far from where he was sitting. Campbell then forced the Canadiens to forfeit the game to the Red Wings, and close the Forum down for the night, proving costly in a tight race for first place in the league.
- The departing Forum crowd joined the protestors outside, and a riot ensued into the night. An estimated $7,000 (61,064 in 2014 dollars) damage was done, and an estimated 41–100 people were arrested. The suspension ultimately cost Richard the scoring title for the season, and was deemed a significant drawback to the team during that year's Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost to the Red Wings in seven games. The Richard Riot is often cited as a demonstration of greater social issues in Canada which transcended sporting events, with the French-Canadien population feeling they were unfairly treated in the predominantly anglophone Canadian culture.
- November 1, 1959: Plante Covers His Face (Montreal Canadiens 3, New York Rangers 1)
- Jacques Plante was a future hall of fame goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, who were in the midst of a dynasty. Plante had occasionally worn a mask during practice because of sinusitis, but had never worn one during a game.
- This changed on November 1, when during a game against the New York Rangers, Plante was hit in the face by a puck shot by Andy Bathgate. The game was halted, as he went to the dressing room to receive stitches. When he returned, Plante was wearing his crude, homemade mask much to the ire of Montreal coach Toe Blake. Since the Canadiens had no backup goalie at the time, and Plante refused to return without it, Blake had no choice but to play Plante on the condition that the mask come off once the cut healed. Ultimately, the Canadiens won that game, then went on an 18-game unbeaten streak, resulting in Blake simmering down over the issue. He did however, request Plante remove the mask during a December 8 game against the Detroit Red Wings. Plante did so, but Montreal was shut out 3–0. After that, Plante's mask came back for good, including during that season's finals, their fifth straight Stanley Cup win. Plante faced some goading from fans and NHL figures alike for his perceived cowardice, but he ended up kicking off a major change in NHL player safety.
- With that, Jacques Plante became the first NHL goaltender to permanently wear a mask in-game. Clint Benedict was the first to officially wear one in 1930, but this was a temporary fixture while Benedict was healing from a broken nose. The NHL has never officially implemented a rule forcing goalies to wear masks (unlike the helmet bylaw for skaters), but the mask-less goalie disappeared by the end of the 1973–74 season, with Andy Brown's move to the World Hockey Association.
- April 23, 1964: Sudden Return, Sudden Goal (Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Detroit Red Wings 3, Game 6, OT, Stanley Cup Finals)
Game six of the 1964 Stanley Cup Finals took place at Detroit's Olympia Stadium. But it was most remembered for the heroic performance of Maple Leaf defenseman Bobby Baun. At the time, Detroit lead the series 3-2. During the game, Baun blocked a shot from Gordie Howe, which hit his ankle. He was taken off by the medical staff and was treated for the injury. By the overtime period, Baun returned and scored the game-winning goal at 1:43, forcing a game seven.
The Maple Leafs went on to win the Stanley Cup the next game; their third straight championship at the time.
- March 12, 1966: Bobby Hull: The first member of the 50+ Goal Club (Chicago Blackhawks 4, New York Rangers 2)
On March 12, 1966, the Chicago Blackhawks faced the New York Rangers. That game was most remembered for Bobby Hull's performance because he was the first player to score more than 50 goals in a season. After overcoming a 2–1 deficit, Hull took a blistering slapshot from 50 feet away and scored to tie the game at two goals apiece. The crowd reacted with triumph as they tossed hats onto the ice and his teammates celebrated. At the time, it was Hull's 51st goal of the season. The Blackhawks went on to win the game, 4–2. Hull finished the season with 54 goals and had the most goals in a season by any player during the Original Six era.
- May 10, 1970: The Flying Bobby Orr and the Most Famous Goal in NHL History (Boston Bruins 4, St. Louis Blues 3, Game 4, OT, Stanley Cup Finals)
- The Boston Bruins met the St. Louis Blues in the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals. The Blues were swept in consecutive Cup Finals the previous two years, and this year would be no different. The Bruins were in firm control after three games, having blown out the Blues in each game, with a combined goal differential of 16–4. Game 4 in Boston was tied 3–3 at the end of regulation. Just 40 seconds into the first overtime, Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr took a pass from Derek Sanderson and skated on Blues goalie Glenn Hall, who opened the crease and his legs to prepare for Orr's impending shot. Orr shot it directly through Hall's five-hole (between the legs), and once seeing it go through, jumped in elation. This also caused him to be tripped by Blues defensemen Noel Picard. Orr went flying through the air in a directly horizontal manner, about four feet off of the ice in a Superman-esque pose. The Bruins won their first Stanley Cup since 1941. This goal also served as the first of two Stanley Cup clinching goals that Orr would score in his career (the other coming in game 6 of the 1972 Stanley Cup Finals), which also helped him to his first of two Conn Smythe Trophies for playoff MVP. From there, the goal, and its associated picture (with Orr celebrating in mid-air surrounded by a cheering Boston crowd), became arguably the most famous in NHL history. Orr was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979, with a record eight consecutive Norris Trophy wins, and two Conn Smythe Trophies punctuating his career.
- April 26, 1975: New York Pulls Off the Ultimate Comeback (New York Islanders 1, Pittsburgh Penguins 0, Game 7, Quarterfinals)
- The New York Islanders were competing in their first Stanley Cup playoffs since their inception in 1972. They defeated their in-state rivals the New York Rangers in the best-of-three preliminary round 2–1, then went on to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the best-of-seven conference quarterfinals.
- New York remained reasonably competitive in the first three games. The series started on April 13 in Pittsburgh, with the Penguins taking game one 5–4. Game 2 was won again by Pittsburgh 3–1, and they also parlayed that into a 6–4 victory in game 3 when the series shifted back to New York. From here, the Islanders were down 0–3 in the series, an almost-impossible to overcome deficit in the best-of-seven series.
- The Islanders fortunes began to turn around after game 3. They staved off elimination in game 4 with a 3–1 win. Back in Pittsburgh, they took game 5 by a 4–2 score, and comfortably defeated the Penguins in game six 4–1 in New York. From this point, they managed to become the fourth NHL team to tie a best-of-seven series 3–3 after trailing 3 games-to-none. With a 1–0 shutout win in game 7 on April 26 in Pittsburgh, they then became the second North American professional sports team to complete a comeback of such proportions, joining the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs for such an accomplishment.
- The Islanders had in fact almost repeated the same feat in the very next round. During the conference finals, they faced the defending Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers, and yet again battled back from a 3-games-to-none deficit to ties the series 3–3. Philadelphia however, soundly defeated the Islanders 4–1 in game 7, preserving the series victory.
- May 20, 1975: The Fog Game (Buffalo Sabres 5, Philadelphia Flyers 4, Game 3, OT, Stanley Cup Finals)
- The 1975 Cup Finals was the first one to be played with two non-Original Six teams in the seven years since the expansion. It was also the only Stanley Cup Finals between 1965 and 1979 not to feature either the Boston Bruins or the Montreal Canadiens. The Flyers won the first two games at home, and the series shifted to Buffalo for game 3. Buffalo Memorial Auditorium (also known as "The Aud"), didn't have air conditioning at the time, and the unusual temperatures in Buffalo on this May day proved problematic for the game. The heat and humidity caused a fog to rise up from the ice and fill the arena. It became so thick that many in attendance couldn't see the on-ice action, and Aud employees periodically skated around the ice during stoppages of play with bed sheets to fan the fog off of the ice. The officials for the game also stopped play five times, and ordered players from both teams to skate in circles to attempt to dissipate the fog as well. Another notable event in the game featured the death of a bat. Apparently, the bat lived in the arena, and perhaps due to the strange temperatures, was driven away from its usual perch, and started flying around the arena. Eventually, the bat started inching closer and closer to the on-ice level (likely in an attempt to cool off), and distracted several players. At one point in the first period, the bat hovered just above an ensuing face off, where Sabres forward Jim Lorentz struck it with his stick out of mid-air, and killed it. This was considered a bad omen by many superstitious Sabres fans, and Lorentz was criticized by animal rights groups over the incident. The Sabres would ultimately go on to win the Fog Game 5–4 in overtime off of a Rene Robert tally, but lost the series in six games.
- January 11, 1976: Flyers vs. Red Army (Philadelphia Flyers 4, Red Army 1)
- Part of the Super Series '76, in which Soviet hockey teams from the Soviet Championship League traveled to North America to play National Hockey League teams. The Flyers were the NHL's defending Stanley Cup Champions, having won their second consecutive Cup in 1975. They faced off against HC CSKA Moscow, also known as the "Red Army Team". Relations between the Soviets and the West were strained, as this was the height of the Cold War. The Soviet team was aware of the Flyers' reputation as a ferocious, hard-hitting team, and their nickname the "Broad Street Bullies". Negotiations to kick the series off were also contentious, adding to the air of uneasiness which ruled over the series as a whole.
- The game kicked off, and while in a still scoreless first period, Flyers star Ed Van Impe returned to the ice after serving a penalty. He then laid a hard elbow hit to the head on Red Army star Valeri Kharlamov. Kharlamov was toppled, and lay prone on the ice for about a minute. The officials refused to call a penalty, citing it a clean hit, and Red Army coach Konstantin Loktev removed his team from the ice in protest. The situation deteriorated further when Flyers owner Ed Snider got into a shouting match with the president of the Soviet Hockey Federation, citing that they would not get paid if the game was not completed. The Soviets continued to delay the game, arguing that the referees should cancel an impending delay of game penalty which they were facing. Eventually, they relented, accepted the penalty, and returned to the ice.
- May 10, 1979: Too Many Men (Montreal Canadiens 5, Boston Bruins 4, Game 7, OT, Semi-Finals)
- In the height of a bitter rivalry, these two teams met each other for the 18th time in Stanley Cup playoff history in the 1979 Semi-Finals, with Montreal having won the previous 13 matchups for a 15–3 head-to-head series record all-time. The Canadiens were in the middle of a dynasty, working on their fourth Stanley Cup in as many years. The Bruins were perennial playoff contenders under coach Don Cherry, his so-called "Lunch Pail Gang". But they fell just short in recent years behind teams like the Flyers and Canadiens, who between them, had won every Cup since 1974.
- The series started in Montreal on April 26, and each home team had won every game in the series up to that point. The most infamous moment however, came in game 7 in Montreal.
- Boston held a one-goal lead late into the third period thanks to Rick Middleton, and it looked as if the Bruins might knock the defending champs out of the semi-final. However, with 2:34 left in the third period, the Bruins were nailed with a too many men penalty during a sloppy line change. The ensuing power play saw Canadiens' coach Scotty Bowman put his power play special teams unit on the ice, all men who are currently in the hall of fame: Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard, Steve Shutt and Jacques Lemaire. Lemaire dropped the puck back to Lafleur, who then buried it home on Bruins' goalie Gilles Gilbert, tying the game, and sending it into overtime. Halfway through the overtime period, Lemaire intercepted Rick Middleton, who gave it to Rejean Houle, then to Mario Tremblay, then to Yvon Lambert. Lambert then scored off of what he deemed a "perfect pass", ending the game 5–4 and the series, and sending the Canadiens back to the Finals.
- December 23, 1979: The Shoe Massacre (Boston Bruins 4, New York Rangers 3)
On December 23, 1979, the Boston Bruins defeated the New York Rangers by a comeback score of 4–3 after being down 3–1 in the second period. In the final seconds, Phil Esposito attempted to tie the game up, but he was stopped by Gerry Cheevers. As the buzzer sounded, the Bruins celebrated while a frustrated Esposito smashed his stick and went straight to the dressing room. Suddenly, both teams started pushing and shoving each other. It wasn't long before the scuffle became a full-blown brawl, and then a fist fight with the fans. Terry O'Reilly went into the stands and attacked a Rangers fan. Some more Bruins players (including Peter McNab) followed shortly after, attacking more Rangers fans. Mike Milbury had already gone into the visitor's locker room, but came right back to join his teammates in the brawl. Milbury caught one of the unruly spectators and beat him with one of his shoes. In the end, O'Reilly was suspended for eight games and McNab and Milbury for six, each being fined $500.
- February 26, 1981: Bruins–North Stars Brawl (Boston Bruins 5, Minnesota North Stars 1)
- Inspired by coach Glen Sonmor to become more physical despite never having won at Boston Garden, the North Stars set off a record-breaking violent game. The first fight had started just seven seconds after the opening faceoff, with Boston's Steve Kasper and Minnesota's Bobby Smith coming to blows. Fights continued to break out throughout the period, which eventually led to a major brawl at 8:58 of the first period. The scrum was actually started in the runway up to the Bruins bench. Here, several ejected North Stars players started fighting with the Bruins, and a bench-clearing brawl began on ice as well. The period lasted for one and a half hours due to the melee. After the game, Sonmor and Bruins coach Gerry Cheevers got into a heated verbal altercation over the aggressive play as well. Sonmor acknowledged that he had told the team to play tough, but because he considered the Bruins as dirty players in previous games, and that the North Stars had to prove that they could stand up for themselves. A total of 406 penalty minutes were assessed, and twelve players were ejected. The total penalty minutes broke the record set by the Philadelphia Flyers and Los Angeles Kings on March 11, 1979, and would stand until the Flyers–Senators Brawl in 2004. Minnesota set a single-team record in PIM with 209, breaking the Flyers record of 188 in that game. The 81 penalties assessed broke the record set by the Philadelphia Flyers and Vancouver Canucks on February 22, 1980. And the 61 penalties in the first period broke the single-period record set in the Flyers–Canucks game as well. This game caused the NHL to change how runways in the arena were set up, so that players would not walk up to the opposing team's bench between the ice and the locker room.
- April 10, 1982: Miracle on Manchester (Los Angeles Kings 6, Edmonton Oilers 5, Game 3, OT, Smythe Division Semifinals)
- The pre-dynasty Oilers met the struggling Kings in the 1982 semifinals. Game 1 was a high-scoring affair, with the underdog Kings coming away with a 10–8 win in Edmonton, despite a weak road record throughout the season. Game 2 was much lower scoring, and the Oilers evened the series with a 3–2 overtime victory.
- In game 3, the Oilers built up a 5–0 lead coming into the third period in front of a quiet crowd at The Forum. During the second intermission, the Kings had discussed remaining determined to salvage some pride and send a message for game 4. At 4-on-4 to start the period, Jay Wells shot the puck from 30ft out in front of screened Oilers goalie Grant Fuhr to make the score 5–1. About three minutes later, the Kings were on another power play, and Doug Smith caught an obscured rebound and put it past Fuhr again to cut the Oilers lead to 5–2. Offsetting penalties put both teams at 4 skaters aside again, and Charlie Simmer scored a goal off of an inadvertent tap in by Oilers defensemen Randy Gregg. By this point, the Forum crowd started coming back to life, maintaining hope of a comeback.
- With five minutes left in the third, both teams were 4 aside due to offsetting penalties. Steve Bozek and Mark Hardy teamed up for another Kings goal, pulling to within one. The Kings pulled their goalie for an extra attacker, and Steve Bozek then scored the equalizer with five seconds left to play. The Forum erupted in cheers as the Kings celebrated in a heap of yellow jerseys on the ice. In overtime, the Kings then shook off a terrible misplay which almost led to Mark Messier scoring the game winner for Edmonton, and rookie Daryl Evans shot high on Fuhr off of the face-off, scoring at 2:35 into the overtime period, and winning the game.
- April 20, 1984: Good Friday Massacre (Montreal Canadiens 5, Quebec Nordiques 3, Game 6, Adams Division Finals)
- These provincial rivals met each other in the 1984 playoffs. By the time of the infamous game 6 on Good Friday, Montreal led the series 3–2, and looked to close out the Nordiques on home ice in Montreal. The game's first fight took place 23 seconds after the opening face-off, setting the tone for the night. Quebec started off the scoring in the first period 1–0, and that score carried on into the third period. Things began to really intensify towards the end of the second period, culminating in a bench-clearing brawl. This delayed the start of the third period, with officials needing to sort out penalties. The third period didn't see a cooling, as another major brawl broke out. This even involving players ejected during the second-period scrum, but referee Bruce Hood had been backed up, and had not yet notified them. This period saw the Canadiens take control, scoring five goals, and winning the game 5–3 to take the series. Fourteen fights had taken place, 252 total penalty minutes were issued, and 10 players were ejected from the game. Hood was criticized for his handling of the game, and many speculate that it led to his decision to retire in the following offseason.
- April 30, 1986: Steve Smith: The Own Goal (Calgary Flames 3, Edmonton Oilers 2, Game 7, Smythe Division Finals)
- The Edmonton Oilers were approaching dynasty status, attempting their third consecutive Stanley Cup championship in 1986. They maintained a heated rivalry with their provincial rivals the Calgary Flames, defeating them in the two playoff series the teams played against each other in 1983 and 1984. The 1986 series went to seven games, with the Oilers hosting the Flames in Edmonton. Calgary got on the board first with two consecutive goals in the second period. However, Edmonton came back and scored twice before the period was over to tie the game.
- At 14:46 of the third period with the score holding at 2–2, rookie Oilers defenseman Steve Smith (on his 23rd birthday at the time) scooped up a dump-in by Flames centre Perry Berezan, which was stopped and left for retrieval by Edmonton goalie Grant Fuhr. In an attempt to clear the puck up the ice, Smith shot the puck from a bad angle, where it managed to bounce off of Fuhr's skate, and drift backwards into the Oilers goal. Smith then immediately fell to the ice and covered his head while the Flames celebrated. Berezan was credited with the goal as the last member of the Flames to touch it. The Oilers were unable to even the game up before time ran out, and the Flames went on to win the series and go to the Conference Finals. For the first time since 1982, the Oilers would not make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. As well, this series remains the only playoff matchup in the Battle of Alberta in which Calgary won. After the game, when Smith finished the handshake line, he was in tears and banged his stick on the bench boards when making his way towards the locker room.
- A year later, in 1987, the Oilers captured their third Stanley Cup by defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in the series 4 games to 3. After Wayne Gretzky hoisted the Stanley Cup, he immediately handed it off to Smith as a way to redeem himself for the fans.
- May 12, 1986: The Monday Night Miracle (St. Louis Blues 6, Calgary Flames 5, Game 6, OT, Campbell Conference Finals)
- The second-seeded Flames met the third-seeded Blues after their upset win over the Edmonton Oilers in the previous round. The Flames led the series 3–2 before game 6 in St. Louis. The Flames were in control throughout most of the game, leading by a 5–2 margin around the 8-minute mark of the third period. St. Louis began to rally, starting with a Brian Sutter goal off of a deflection. Greg Paslawski then narrowed the gap further around the 12-minute mark of the period, making the score 5–4. Time winded down even further, until suddenly, there was just over a minute left. With 1:14 remaining, Paslawski stealthy intercepted the puck from Flames defensemen Jamie Macoun, caught goalie Mike Vernon on a bad angle, and scored. This tied the game 5–5, and the crowd erupted in cheers.
- April 18–19, 1987: Easter Epic (New York Islanders 3, Washington Capitals 2, Game 7, 4OT, Patrick Division Semifinals)
- The Capitals and Islanders finished in second and third place in the Wales Conference respectively. The 1987 playoffs marked the fifth consecutive time that the teams met in the playoffs, marking the height of a deep rivalry. New York fell behind 3–1 in the series, before coming back to win games 5 and 6, setting up for the seventh game in Washington.
- The game began at 7:30 pm EST on April 18, the Saturday before Easter Sunday. After 19 minutes of a scoreless tie, Mike Gartner put the Capitals ahead 1–0 before the end of the first period. Midway through the second period, Patrick Flatley evened the score for the Islanders, but Grant Martin responded, making the score 2–1 for Washington. With roughly five minutes left in regulation, the Islanders legend Bryan Trottier scored the equalizer, and the third period would end in a 2–2 tie.
- Strong goaltending prevailed in overtime, with the Islanders Kelly Hrudey and the Capitals Bob Mason, neutralizing many scoring attempts. The first, second, and third overtimes came and went, with Saturday the 18th rolling over into Easter Sunday the 19th. For the first time since 1951, an NHL game was headed to its fourth overtime period. Here, at around eight minutes into the fourth OT, Islanders forward Pat LaFontaine caught a deflected shot from Gord Dineen, and shot it past a screened Bob Mason for the game and series winner for the Islanders. It was 1:58 AM local time, and the teams had played 128:47 of hockey that night. Kelly Hrudey made 73 saves in the win.
- December 8, 1987: Ron Hextall Scores a Goal (Philadelphia Flyers 5, Boston Bruins 2)
- Billy Smith was the first NHL goaltender to be credited with a goal. However, this was due to an own goal committed by Rob Ramage, and Smith was the last member of the opposing team to touch the puck. Hextall had openly talked about wanting to become the first goalie to score a goal before this, and he saw his wish come true a year after making the suggestion. In a game against the Boston Bruins in December 1987, the Bruins were trailing 4–2 late in the third period. They pulled goalie Reggie Lemelin for an extra attacker. Hextall picked up a dump-in while alone in the Flyers zone, and shot the puck down the length of the ice, where it rolled into the open Boston net. With this, he became the first goaltender in NHL history to score a goal in a game. Hextall remarked after the game "I don't mean to sound cocky, but I knew it was just a matter of time before I flipped one in."
- He would in fact repeat this feat two years later in a game against the Washington Capitals. And for almost ten years, he would stand alone as the only NHL goalie to score a goal until Chris Osgood in 1996.
- April 16, 1988: Dale Hunter's Overtime Epic (Washington Capitals 5, Philadelphia Flyers 4, Game 7, OT, Patrick Division Semifinals)
- The Capitals were perennial playoff contenders during the 1980s, although they had become known for struggling in the postseason. Even with a three-game sweep against the New York Islanders in 1986, They dropped two playoff series to them after leading by two games (1985 and the 1987 Easter Epic finale) within two years. In 1988 against Philadelphia, they squandered a 4–1 lead in an overtime loss in game 4 that set them down in the series 3–1. From here, the Capitals began to rally, winning games 5 and 6 in lopsided fashion. Game 7 in Washington however, saw the Caps again fall behind 3–0. Dale Hunter preceded to rally the team, setting up the Caps' first goal by a feed to Gary Galley. Hunter later contributed a goal, helping the team to rally back and see them tie the game 4–4 by the end of regulation. For the second consecutive playoff series, the Capitals were going to overtime in game 7. Hunter then scored what is often considered the "Biggest Goal in Capitals History". He took a pass from Larry Murphy. and proceeded in on a breakaway towards Flyers goalie Ron Hextall. He deked Hextall out, slipping the puck past his right blocker at 5:57 of overtime. The Capitals had won the series, and the Washington crowd erupted in cheers, which would not calm even throughout the handshake line.
- May 6, 1988: "Have Another Donut!" (Boston Bruins 6, New Jersey Devils 1, Game 3, Wales Conference Finals)
- After the Devils suffered a 6–1 blowout loss at the hands of the Bruins in game 3, Devils coach Jim Schoenfeld proceeded to go after referee Don Koharski, being very displeased with Koharski's performance during the game. Schoenfeld confronted Koharski as he walked off of the ice, and the two quickly proceeded to get into a shouting match. Koharski seemed to fall, where he then accused Schoenfeld of tripping him, and the following exchange took place:
- Koharski: "Oh, you're gone now! You're gone. You won't coach another..."
- Schoenfeld: "You fell and you know it. You know you fell. I didn't touch you. You're crazy, you're crazy!"
- Koharski: "You're gone! You're gone! And I hope it's on tape!" (believing that the cameras present would vindicate him)
- Schoenfeld: "Good, because you fell, you fat pig! Have another donut! Have another donut!"
- The two were finally separated for good, and Schoenfeld was later suspended for game 4 due to his remarks.
- New Jersey successfully sought a legal injunction, granting them a stay of Schoenfeld's suspension, allowing him to coach in game 4. Before the start of the game, the officials that night decided to boycott the game to show solidarity with Koharski in response to Schoenfeld's presence behind the bench. The game had to be played with replacement officials, with Schoenfeld serving out his suspension during game 5.
- May 24, 1988: The night the lights went out in Massachusetts (Boston Bruins 3, Edmonton Oilers 3, Game 4, Stanley Cup Finals)
- During the game, a fog interrupted play, and eventually a power failure caused a blackout in the Boston Garden, midway through the second period with the score tied 3–3. The game was immediately suspended and subsequently replayed from the start two days later (May 26) in Edmonton. As the Oilers were scheduled to host Game five, if necessary, on that date anyway, the replayed Game four was reclassified as Game five. The Oilers won that game, sweeping the series and winning their fourth Stanley Cup in five years.
- Incidentally, Edmonton right winger Glenn Anderson had broken a record in the original Game four in Boston, for quickest goal to start a Finals game, when he scored ten seconds into that contest. Despite the fact that the game was suspended and replayed, Anderson's record is still official. Coincidentally, that record was matched two years later in the Game three of the 1990 Stanley Cup Finals, when the Bruins and Oilers again met for the Cup. This time, it was John Byce of the Bruins who scored the record-tying goal against the Oilers.
- August 9, 1988: The Trade
- Wayne Gretzky was captain of the Edmonton Oilers during the 1980s, and had won four Stanley Cup championships over the course of five seasons with the team. He had also developed into an NHL superstar, and became a cultural icon in Canada.
- On May 26, just hours after the Oilers' fourth Cup win in 1988, Gretzky learned from his father that Oilers owner Peter Pocklington was planning to trade him. Pocklington was facing financial hardship, as his other business ventures were struggling. Gretzky initially didn't want to leave Edmonton, but a phone call from Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall caused him to reconsider. Gretzky negotiated a trade so long as he could bring a couple of teammates with him. McNall and Pocklington then finalized the deal.
- On August 9, Gretzky, Marty McSorley, and Mike Krushelnyski were traded to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, $15 million in cash, and the Kings first round draft picks for 1989, 1991, and 1993. "The Trade" was met with much discourse in Canada, with Oilers fans burning Pocklington in effigy, and house leader Nelson Riis petitioning for government intervention to block it. Gretzky was further referred to as a "traitor" by many Canadian hockey fans. Although despite this, he received a warm welcome in his first game in Edmonton as a King.
- December 31, 1988: Mario Lemieux: 5 Goals in 5 Different Ways (Pittsburgh Penguins 8, New Jersey Devils 6)
- Mario Lemieux was an emerging NHL superstar. On New Year's Eve in 1988, he scored five goals in a single game in five different ways.
- He started off by netting three goals in the first period alone. At 4:57, he scored an even strength goal. A few minutes later, he added a short-handed goal at the 7:50 mark. Just a couple of minutes later, he netted a power play goal at 10:50. In the second period at 11:14, he added a rare penalty shot tally. Finally, late in the third period with the score 7–6 in favor of the Penguins, the Devils pulled their goalie. Lemieux capped off the game with an empty-net goal with 1 second remaining in the third period. Lemieux had scored a goal in every way possible in an NHL game: Even strength, short-handed, power play, penalty shot, and empty net. This was the first and only time such a feat has been accomplished in NHL history.
- March 22, 1989: Clint Malarchuk's Throat Slashing (St. Louis Blues 2, Buffalo Sabres 1)
- The Sabres played the Blues in Buffalo, Malarchuk was in goal. While chasing the puck, Blues forward Steve Tuttle and Sabres defensemen Uwe Krupp collided and flew speedily towards Malarchuk, bowling in to him. Tuttle's skate caught Malarchuk in the neck, severing his carotid artery. Malarchuk started spraying blood rapidly on the ice from the wound. Athletic trainer Jim Pizzutelli helped him into the dressing room. Pizzutelli used his experience as an Army medic in Vietnam, and pinched the severed artery, hold it long enough for doctors to assist him, and then employed methods to reduce Malarchuk's cardiac output and his blood flow by kneeling on his collarbone. Malarchuk was saved at the hospital, coming very close to becoming the second NHL player (after Bill Masterton) to die due to injury sustained in-game. Doctors gave him 300 stitches to close the wound. The game only resumed once NHL officials received words that he was in stable condition. Many in attendance were reported having gotten ill from the sight of Malarchuk's rapid bleeding.
- April 15, 1989: Mike Vernon Saves the Series (Calgary Flames 4, Vancouver Canucks 3, Game 7, OT, Smythe Division Semifinals)
- Calgary were repeating President's Trophy champions in the 1988–89 regular season, and they met their Smythe Division rivals the Vancouver Canucks for the first round of the playoffs. Despite finishing 43 points behind Calgary in the regular season, Vancouver pushed Calgary to seven games. They started with a 4–3 overtime win in game 1. Calgary bounced back and took the next two games, but the teams would alternate victories until they were deadlocked up to game seven. Here, the Flames would take control twice, only to see the Canucks tie the game each time, eventually forcing overtime. Here, the Canucks then saw a strong chance to win, with veteran forward Stan Smyl coming in with the puck on a breakaway towards Calgary goalie Mike Vernon. With a wide open chance, Smyl sped in on goal, shot the puck high on Vernon's glove side, and Vernon made what would become one of the most famous save in Stanley Cup play, swiftly gloving the puck in his trapper. After the save, Vernon then fell backwards into the goal (being sure to keep his glove-hand outside) in a show of relief for having made the save. Calgary forward Joel Otto then scored the game winner at the 19:21 mark of overtime, winning the game and the series. The Flames went on to win the Stanley Cup that year. Eventual Conn Smythe Trophy winner Al MacInnis specifically gave a strong endorsement of Vernon for his work in that year's playoffs, especially noting that his performance in game 7's overtime against the Canucks was the reason they made it that far.
- October 27, 1990: Keenan vs. The Timekeeper (Boston Bruins 5, Chicago Blackhawks 4)
Mike Keenan and the Chicago Blackhawks faced off against the Boston Bruins. However, this game was most remembered for the final seconds. At the time, Chicago trailed 5-4. With around three seconds, the Blackhawks scored a goal, but the net was knocked off its moorings after the puck entered the net, even though time did not expire. Unfortunately, the goal did not stand and the Blackhawks lost the game. Keenan, however, was upset that the goal was disallowed and berated the Bruins timekeeper, Larry Stafford, thinking he cheated. Blackhawks players and the referee restrained Keenan, but he resisted and kept screaming at him and nearly climbed over the glass. After the game, Keenan wrote a letter to NHL executive John Ziegler Jr. and sent tapes for proof that the puck went in before time expired. Regardless, the score of that game still stood.  
Later that season, the Blackhawks won the Presidents' Trophy.
- March 17, 1991: St. Patrick's Day Massacre (Chicago Blackhawks 6, St. Louis Blues 4)
- The Campbell Conference's Norris Division was especially noted for its violent rivalries throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The Blues and Blackhawks played in such a game in March 1991 at Chicago Stadium. A brawl erupted when Glen Featherstone retaliated against Jeremy Roenick for an earlier hit on Harold Snepsts. Keith Brown then shoved Featherstone, and the two teams proceeded to get into a brawl. Things only continued from there, with another brawl midway in the second period. Players spilled out from the bench onto the ice, a notable scrap taking place between Scott Stevens and Dave Manson. 278 penalty minutes were issued in this game, with 12 total players ejected. Blues players Scott Stevens and Kelly Chase were suspended for two and ten games respectively, and Mike Peluso of the Hawks for ten games. Both teams were fined $10,000. The Blackhawks went on to win the high-scoring game 6–4.
- April 14, 1991: Theoren Fleury's Seventh Heaven (Calgary Flames 2, Edmonton Oilers 1, Game 6, OT, Clarence Campbell Conference Finals)
For the fifth time, the Flames and Oilers met each other in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Oilers won five Stanley Cups while Calgary had one championship. In the previous year, the Flames got swept by the Oilers in the Clarence Campbell Conference Finals. However, the next series was a different story. Facing elimination in game six in Edmonton, Calgary trailed Edmonton 3–2 in the series. Calgary overcame a 1-0 deficit at 9:12 of the second period thanks to a game-tying goal from Paul Ranheim. The game was then sent into overtime. Theoren Fleury intercepted a pass from Mark Messier at center ice. He then proceeded to sprint up the ice and beat Grant Fuhr, winning the game. After the goal, Fleury skated across the ice and glided on both knees when he was in the neutral zone, sliding towards the boards and celebrating with his teammates. The goal led to this quote by Chris Cuthbert:
"Messier gives it away! HERE'S FLEURY! LOOKING FOR HIS FIRST GOAL OF THE SERIES... SCORES! And Theoren Fleury and the Flames are in seventh heaven!"
Unfortunately, the Flames lost the next game to the Oilers, also in overtime, eliminating them from the Clarance Campbell Conference Finals in seven games. The overtime winner in game six remains one of the greatest moments in Fleury's career.
- September 23, 1992: Manon Rheaume Breaks the Gender Barrier (St. Louis Blues 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 2)
- For the 1992–93 NHL season, the Tampa Bay Lightning were an expansion team. Co-founder Phil Esposito saw a tape of goaltender Manon Rheaume while scouting for prospects to invite to training camp. At that point, Rheaume had also become the first woman to play in men's junior A hockey. He found her performances solid enough to extend an invite, and once realizing that she was a woman, garnered the idea of a publicity stunt. Rheaume agreed to try out for the Lightning, and ultimately signed a contract to appear in a preseason game. Both Rheaume and Esposito were challenged by the media for the signing, but nonetheless the NHL did not forbid it. She appeared in goal in the first period of a preseason game against the St. Louis Blues on September 23. Ultimately, she made seven saves, and allowed two goals. She then appeared in one period in a preseason game against the Boston Bruins in 1993, making eight saves on eleven shots in a 4–2 loss. NHL stars like Patrick Roy and Brendan Shanahan nonetheless commended her signing, saying that she had earned a chance to play at that level. She remains the first and only woman to have played in an NHL game, and the first woman to play in any of the major North American professional sports leagues.
- March 2, 1993: Mario Lemieux Returns From Cancer (Philadelphia Flyers 5, Pittsburgh Penguins 4)
- On January 12, Mario Lemieux announced that he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, which left his future in ice hockey in question. He began undergoing radiation treatment, ultimately missing two months of the season. On his last day of radiation on March 2, he then flew to Philadelphia to return to the lineup and play that night against the Flyers. Before the game, Lemieux was greeted by a standing ovation from the Philadelphia crowd. This gesture transcended the intense in-state divisional rivalry between the Flyers and Penguins, as the crowd showed the utmost respect for Lemieux's perseverance during the last two months. He scored a goal and got an assist in the game, and his return is widely regarded as one of the most uplifting sports stories of all-time. His return also helped to ignite a 17-game winning streak for the Penguins, which remains an NHL record.
- April 24, 1993: "May Day!" (Buffalo Sabres 6, Boston Bruins 5, Game 4, OT, Adams Division Semifinals)
- The Sabres faced the Bruins for the second consecutive postseason, having lost to Boston in seven games in round 1 in 1992. Their matchup in 1993 was ultimately closer than it looked on paper. Buffalo came out to a 3–0 series lead thanks in part to overtime victories in games 1 and 3. Game 4 at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium was the highest-scoring affair in the short series. Boston led 4–2 by the end of the first period, and then 5–3 by the end of the second. From that point on, Buffalo took control of the game. Sabres forward Alexander Mogilny pulled to within 1 at 10:43 of the third period. Less than one minute later, Yuri Khmylev scored the equalizer at the 11:36 mark. The game was deadlocked at 5–5 going into overtime. It wouldn't last long in the extra period thanks to the efforts of Brad May. Less than fives minutes in, May caught a feed from Pat Lafontaine and proceeded into Boston's defensive zone. He deked around two Boston defenders (one of them being future hall of famer Ray Bourque), then faked out Bruins goalie Andy Moog for a swift goal at 4:48 of overtime to end the series. The Buffalo crowd cheered in a frenzy, and Sabres announcer Rick Jeanneret immortalized the play with the following call:
- April 25, 1993: Blues Sweep Blackhawks, Belfour Rampages (St. Louis Blues 4, Chicago Blackhawks 3, Game 4, OT, Norris Division Semifinals)
- For the second year in a row, these bitter division rivals met in the postseason. Albeit, with drastically different results. Chicago won in six games in 1992 in their run to the Cup Finals. This year, they were division and conference winners, finishing with 21 point up on the fourth-seeded Blues. However, St. Louis pulled off a stunning upset in the first round, sweeping the first place Hawks right out of the playoffs. The culminating moment was at 10:13 of overtime in game 4, when Craig Janney scored the game winner for the Blues. Chicago goalie Ed Belfour had gone out of his net to play the puck, but ended up colliding with St. Louis star Brett Hull. Because of this, he made it back to the crease just in time to watch the puck get shot past him into the open net. Belfour was livid, and immediately conferred with the officials, demanding the goal be overturned due to interference. His request was not granted, the goal stood, and the Blackhawks season was over. He then went on a notorious rampage, smashing his stick against the crossbar and post and trashing the visitor's locker room in St. Louis Arena. He also destroyed a television, coffee maker, hot tub, and two water coolers, dealing thousands of dollars in damage total. Belfour also refused to play another regular season game in St. Louis for the remainder of his career. Ironically, in 1999, Belfour and Hull would be teammates on the Dallas Stars Stanley Cup winning team.
- April 28, 1993: The Hunter Hit (New York Islanders 5, Washington Capitals 3, Game 6 Prince of Wales Division Semifinals)
- In game six of the Prince of Wales Division between the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals, New York lead 4-1 on an insurance goal by Travis Green at 9:58 of the third period. Then, Pierre Turgeon intercepted an attempted pass from Mark Tinordi, and scored on Don Beaupre at 11:29 of the third period. Shortly after Turgeon celebrated, he was hit by Dale Hunter. Then, a full brawl ensued. Turgeon did sustain a shoulder injury in the process, but the Islanders went on to win the game 5-3 and won the series 4-2. The Islanders went on to the Eastern Conference Finals, but they were defeated by the eventual Stanley Cup champions, the Montreal Canadiens.
- As for Dale Hunter, he was given a 21-game suspension the following season.
- May 27, 1993: Kerry Fraser: The Whistle Choke (Los Angeles Kings 5, Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Game 6, OT, Campbell Conference Finals)
- The Los Angeles Kings and Toronto Maple Leafs met in the Conference Finals. The Leafs found themselves deep in the playoffs for the first time in two decades, coming out of the futility of the Harold Ballard era. They sought to contend with Montreal for their first Stanley Cup since 1967, whereas the Kings sought their first in franchise history. The Maple Leafs had taken a 3–2 series lead by game six, having won in overtime 3–2 a couple of days earlier. In game six, the score was tied 4–4 at the end of regulation. During overtime, LA's Wayne Gretzky committed an incidental high-sticking infraction on Toronto's Doug Gilmour, drawing blood. This would generally have drawn a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct under the rules of the time. Referee Kerry Fraser failed to call the penalty, citing that he didn't see it, although evidence compiled after the fact seemed to show Fraser in clear line of sight of the infraction as it happened. Fraser conferred with the two linesman (who were able to call such penalties as high-sticking), but no penalty was called. Toronto fans were irate, as moments later, Gretzky scored the game winner, tying the series, and setting up for game 7 in Toronto. The Kings won game 7 by a 5–4 score as well in major part to Gretzky's hat trick and assist performance, and moved on to the Stanley Cup Finals.
- June 3, 1993: Curse of Marty McSorley's Stick (Montreal Canadiens 3, Los Angeles Kings 2, Game 2, OT, Stanley Cup Finals)
- In the 100th anniversary of the Stanley Cup, The Kings and Canadiens met in the 1993 finals. It was the Kings first Cup Finals in their history. The Canadiens were riding the momentum from 7 overtime victories from the first three rounds helping their trip to the finals.
- The series kicked off in Montreal, with the Kings comfortably winning game one by a 4–1 score. The only Montreal tally coming from an own goal from Wayne Gretzky that was credited to Ed Ronan. Game two was deemed the turning point in the series. Late in the third period, the Kings were leading 2–1, and Canadiens coach Jacques Demers called for an analysis of Marty McSorley's stick, apparently off of a tip from a Montreal Forum employee. The officials took the stick and measured it, and then deemed it "too curved". McSorley was issued a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. With little time remaining in the game, Demers decided to pull his goalie Patrick Roy, and gave the Habs a 6-on-4 advantage. This worked, with Eric Desjardins scoring his second of the game for the 2–2 tie. Desjardins wasted little time afterward, scoring 51 seconds into overtime, giving the Canadiens a 3–2 comeback win, and himself a hat trick.
- The Habs seemed to regain their momentum from this game, winning the next two games in overtime as well (bringing their total to 10 overtime victories out of 11 during the 1993 playoff season). They comfortably defeated the Kings 4–1 in game 5 in Montreal, winning the franchise 24th Stanley Cup (23rd since they joined the NHL). The game 2 incident is referred to in NHL lore as the "Curse of Marty McSorley's Stick", and is given as a generally facetious reason for no Canadian team having won the Cup since 1993.
- May 25, 1994: Mark Messier: The Guarantee (New York Rangers 4, New Jersey Devils 2, Game 6, Eastern Conference Finals)
- Mark Messier came to the Rangers from the Oilers in 1991 with aspirations of guiding the team to a Stanley Cup victory, in which they hadn't won since 1940. In 1994, they were in a fierce battle with their rival New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals for a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals, including two double overtime contests in Games 1 and 3 split between them. The Rangers then found themselves in a 3–2 series hole leading up to Game Six in New Jersey after dropping Game 5 on home ice 4–1. Despite trailing in the series, Mark Messier made a well-publicized statement to the media the day before the game:
- "I know we are going to go in there and win Game 6, and bring it back here [Madison Square Garden] for a Game 7. We know we have to win it. We feel we can win it, and we are going to win it."
- With the third period of Game six kicking off, the Rangers were trailing the Devils 2–1. Messier then proved to be the x-factor in the game, scoring a natural hat trick in the third period to lead the Rangers to a 4–2 victory and send the series back to New York for the deciding Game Seven. Messier's Guarantee harkened back to another popular New York guarantee, that of New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath, who successfully guaranteed a win against the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
- May 27, 1994: "MATTEAU!! MATTEAU!! MATTEAU!!" (New York Rangers 2, New Jersey Devils 1, Game 7, 2OT, Eastern Conference Finals)
- Fresh off of Mark Messier's guarantee, New York tied the Eastern Conference Finals in game six, and hosted New Jersey in game seven at Madison Square Garden. Brian Leetch scored midway through the second period to give New York a 1–0 lead. They would hold this lead until 19:53 of the third period, where Devils forward Valeri Zelepukin tied the game and quieted the crowd, who were seconds away from a Stanley Cup Finals berth.
- The score would remain tied until almost five minutes into the second overtime. Slava Fetisov played the puck across ice, where it was dumped into the corner. New York's Stephane Matteau then swooped in and took the puck, skated behind the New Jersey goal, and at 4:22 of second overtime, shot a wrap around that bounced off of a stick and into the goal behind Martin Brodeur. Rangers radio announcer Howie Rose immortalized the play with the following call:
- "Fetisov for the Devils plays it cross-ice, into the far corner. Matteau swoops in to intercept. Matteau behind the net, swings it in front, HE SCORES! MATTEAU!! MATTEAU!! MATTEAU!! STEPHANE MATTEAU!! AND THE RANGERS HAVE ONE MORE HILL TO CLIMB, BABY! BUT IT'S MOUNT VANCOUVER! THE RANGERS ARE HEADED TO THE FINALS!!!"
- This was Stephane Matteau's second double overtime goal in the series, as he also scored the game winner in Game 3. This goal gave the Rangers their first berth in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1979; they went on to defeat the Vancouver Canucks in seven games, earning their First Stanley Cup in 54 years.
- October 8, 1995: The Legend of the Rat Trick (Florida Panthers 4, Calgary Flames 3)
The Panthers played their first home game on October 8, 1995, after losing their first regular-season game on the road to the then-reigning Stanley Cup Champions, New Jersey Devils, 4-0 one night earlier. Prior to the home opener, a rat ran across the Panthers' dressing room. Scott Mellanby one-timed the rat against the wall and killed it. That night, he scored two goals, which goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck dubbed as a "rat trick" as the Panthers defeated the Calgary Flames 4-3. Two nights later, when the Panthers faced off against the Ottawa Senators, some fans threw rubber rats onto the ice after a Panthers goal was scored. Soon enough, when the Panthers went to the playoffs, the number of rats thrown on the ice skyrocketed. As a result, the Panthers reached the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history, only to be swept by the Colorado Avalanche.
- December 6, 1995: Le Trade
- Patrick Roy was the starting goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens, helping them to two Stanley Cup victories, one in 1986, another in 1993. He was a fan favorite, and was considered the face of the organization during his tenure.
- Things began to sour between Roy and Montreal with the hiring of Mario Tremblay as Canadiens head coach four games into the 1995–96 season. The two had a well-publicized feud both before and after his hiring, and things only got worse. On December 2, Roy started in net in a game against the Detroit Red Wings at the Montreal Forum. Roy let in 9 goals on 26 shots before finally being pulled by Tremblay. Many, including Roy, saw this as Tremblay intentionally embarrassing Roy by keeping him in the game long after it was apparent that he needed to be benched. Roy walked to the bench, completely ignoring his coach, spoke briefly to Canadiens president Ronald Corey sitting in the crowd behind the bench, telling him "It's my last game in Montreal", and then went and sat down. The Wings went on to hand the Habs their worst loss in Forum history that night, 11–1.
- Four days later on December 6, the Canadiens traded Roy along with Mike Keane to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Ručínský, and Andrei Kovalenko. This move, nicknamed "Le Trade", as a French-Canadien nod to the Wayne Gretzky trade almost a decade earlier, was considered one of the most lopsided trades in NHL history. Many Habs fans were angered at the Canadiens management for seemingly not trying hard enough to mend the fence between Roy and Tremblay.
- May 16, 1996: Steve Yzerman's Double Overtime Epic (Detroit Red Wings 1, St. Louis Blues 0, Game 7, 2OT, Western Conference Semifinals)
- The Red Wings had won a record-breaking 62 games during 1995–96 NHL season. Led by their Captain Steve Yzerman, They were looking to win their first Stanley Cup in 41 years, having been upset by the underdog New Jersey Devils in the previous year's Cup Finals. They defeated the Winnipeg Jets in round 1 in six games, and faced their Central division rivals the St. Louis Blues in round 2. Detroit won the first two games at Joe Louis Arena, a 3–2 win in game 1, and an 8–3 blowout in game 2. St. Louis then won game 3 in overtime 5–4. They then shut out the Red Wings in game 4 1–0, and won game 5 3–2. Facing elimination, the Red Wings then won game 6 on a 4–2 win, and headed to Detroit for game 7.
- The game remained scoreless throughout regulation, with goalies Jon Casey and Chris Osgood putting up solid performances for the Blues and the Wings respectively. Just over a minute into the second overtime, Steve Yzerman intercepted Blues forward Wayne Gretzky, and took a hard slapshot from the blue line which deflected off of the post and into the net, winning the series for Detroit. The Joe Louis Arena crowd erupted in cheers, as the Wings celebrated in a pile of jerseys on the ice.
- The goal was Yzerman's first playoff overtime winner, and ultimately became one of the most famous Stanley Cup playoff goals of all-time.
- March 26, 1997: Brawl in Hockeytown (Detroit Red Wings 6, Colorado Avalanche 5, OT)
- The Heavily-favored Red Wings were upset in six games by the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Avalanche in 1996, in a series that would begin the Detroit-Colorado rivalry. Aside from the upset, Claude Lemieux delivered a cross-check to Wings forward Kris Draper in game 6, which broke his jaw and cheekbone, and gave him a concussion. After the game in an interview, when mentioned about the hit and handshake line, Red Wings forward Dino Ciccarelli coldly remarked, "I can't believe I shook this guy's friggin' hand after the game! That pisses me right off!" Wings players and fans had hoped for revenge following the incident.
- The first 4 games of the 1996–97 NHL season between the two were played without incident, all Avalanche victories. The fifth game on March 26 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit descended into a major brawl. Brent Severyn and Jamie Pushor started fighting early in the first period, followed by Kirk Maltby and René Corbet midway through the period. The game erupted into a major brawl by the 18:22 mark, with Igor Larionov and Peter Forsberg colliding into a fight, which ignited a major brawl. Darren McCarty then pummeled Claude Lemieux, with Lemieux "turtling" to protect himself from repeated strikes, which caused the Detroit crowd to further cheer him on. Patrick Roy also fought Mike Vernon in what would become one of the most famous goalie fights in NHL history. After that melee calmed down, yet another fight between Adam Deadmarsh and Vladimir Konstantinov erupted the crowd again just before the end of the first period. The second period saw five more fights, with Brendan Shanahan and Adam Foote squaring off just 4 seconds after the period began.
- The Wings then rallied to an overtime comeback victory off of a tally by Darren McCarty. The Brawl in Hockeytown was considered by many (including Red Wings goalie Mike Vernon) as the game that brought the Red Wings together in time for the playoffs. It was considered a major inspiration in the Conference Finals later that year, where they defeated the Avalanche in six games.
- June 21, 1998: The Incredible Comeback (Detroit Red Wings 5, Washington Capitals 4, OT, Game 2, Stanley Cup Finals)
- For the Detroit Red Wings, it was their second consecutive appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals as they were the reigning Stanley Cup Champions. For the Washington Capitals, it was their first time in the Finals. While Detroit's roster looked pretty much the same as last year, they would have to play without Vladimir Konstantinov, who was severely injured in a car crash the previous year, just shortly after the Red Wings won the cup in 1997. Detroit vowed to be strong for their teammate and had already won game one of the finals by a score of 2-1, but game two was a much different story. By the middle of the period, the Red Wings trailed the Capitals 4-2. Then, Martin Lapointe scored at 8:08 of the third period, getting the game to within a goal. Afterwards, Esa Tikkanen had a breakaway opportunity to extend the Capitals' lead, but he missed the net. At 15:46 of the third period, Doug Brown scored a top-shelf goal past Olaf Kölzig, tying the game at four. The game went into overtime. At 15:24 of the overtime period, Kris Draper received a direct pass from Martin Lapointe and tapped it into the net, winning the game for Detroit. The goal sparked this quote from Gary Thorne:
"THE INCREDIBLE COMEBACK IS COMPLETE!!"
Detroit would go on to sweep the Capitals 4-0 and capture their second consecutive Stanley Cup.
- June 20, 1999: No Goal (Dallas Stars 2, Buffalo Sabres 1, Game 6, 3OT, Stanley Cup Finals)
- Both teams were vying for their franchise first Stanley Cup. The Dallas Stars took a 3–2 series lead into the game, hoping to close out the series in Buffalo. The Buffalo Sabres, backstopped by future hall of fame goalie Dominic Hasek, hoped to extend the series. Jere Lehtinen scored around the 12-minute mark of the 1st period for a 1–0 Dallas lead, and then Stu Barnes scored at the 18:21 mark of the second to tie the game. For the next three periods, there would be no scoring, as June 19 rolled over into the 20th.
- At 14:51 of the third overtime, Stars forward Brett Hull scored off of a rebound to win the game and the Cup for Dallas. However, Hull's skate had entered the goalie crease before the puck did, and under the rules of the time, the goal would seem to need to be overturned. The entire matter was unclear, as the rule was inconsistently called throughout the season. Furthermore, the NHL then sent out a memo clarifying that the rule meant for goals to be allowed if the scorer maintained 'control' (as opposed to strictly 'possession') of the puck prior to entering the crease. Buffalo fans felt that the call was incorrect, and "No Goal!" became a popular rallying cry for Sabres fans for years to come. The NHL then eliminated the controversial rule from the rulebook that following offseason.
- January 29, 2000: The No Call Hit; Ftorek Enraged (Detroit Red Wings 3, New Jersey Devils 1)
On January 29, 2000, the Devils played the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. In the second period, New Jersey trailed 2-1. Then, Jay Pandolfo was viciously hit by Mathieu Dandenault. As a result, Pandolfo's face was bleeding, but the officials did not call a penalty and allowed play to continue as Kirk Maltby scored, making it a 3-1 game. Devils coach Robbie Ftorek was irate over the play not being halted because of Pandolfo's injury that he took the moveable wooden bench and threw it onto the ice in frustration. Ftorek got ejected for the remainder of the game and his team lost. Also, he would be suspended for the next game due to his antics. Near the end of the season, Ftorek was fired amidst complaints from the players and was replaced by assistant coach Larry Robinson, who led the Devils to their second Stanley Cup championship in franchise history.
- February 21, 2000: Marty McSorley High-Sticking Incident (Vancouver Canucks 5, Boston Bruins 2)
- The Vancouver Canucks hosted the Boston Bruins in this February game. Marty McSorley and Donald Brashear had already fought once in the game, with Brashear winning easily. McSorley spent the rest of the game attempting to goad Brashear into another fight. In the last minute of a comfortable 5–2 Vancouver win, McSorley and Brashear were following the play towards the Vancouver defensive zone. Just inside the neutral zone, McSorley took a last-ditch attempt to get Brashear to fight, swinging his stick high on him. The stick blade hit the unprepared Brashear in the side of the helmet, and caused him to fall backward and hit his head on the ice. Brashear remained down, losing consciousness, and ultimately becoming the victim of a grade III major concussion. Fans became irate, littering the ice with garbage, and Vancouver goalie Garth Snow then attacked McSorley on his fallen teammate's behalf.
- McSorley was suspended for the remainder of the season, and that extended to one full-year upon his conviction in the court of assault with a weapon. In court, he claimed to be aiming for Brashear's well-protected shoulder but inadvertently hit his head. Brashear, possibly due to the concussion, claimed no memory of the incident. Brashear got back on the ice later in the season, but McSorley ultimately never played another game in the NHL.
- March 18, 2002: Death of Brittanie Cecil
- On March 16, Brittanie Cecil had gone to Nationwide Arena to watch the Columbus Blue Jackets host the Calgary Flames. Blue Jackets forward Espen Knutsen took a shot on Calgary's goal, which was deflected off of the stick of the Flames' Derek Morris, and into the crowd. The puck struck Cecil in the temple, causing a gash, and fracturing her skull. Play resumed as normal, as no one on the ice was aware of the severity of her injuries. Cecil even managed to walk to the arena first aid station, before being taken to the hospital. She appeared to be recovering from the incident, but tests performed on her brain did not manage to catch a torn vertebral artery. She severely clotted, lost consciousness, and died on March 18.
- Knutsen was noticeably shaken from feelings of guilt, which would ultimately reflect in his play. Cecil's family was awarded $1.2 million in a settlement later on. A moment of silence was observed for her during the following Blue Jackets game, and the team wore a patch bearing the initials BMC (Brittanie Marie Cecil) on their jerseys for the remainder of the season. Blue Jackets general manager Dave King attended her funeral and spoke on the behalf of the team. This incident caused the NHL to put up protective netting on both ends of the rink to prevent future instances of fan injury by errant pucks.
- May 29, 2002: Statue of Liberty Goal (Detroit Red Wings 2, Colorado Avalanche 0, Game 6, Western Conference Finals)
- In the heat of the Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry, Colorado was leading the all-time playoff series among the teams 3–1 leading up to the Western Conference Finals showdown in 2002. Colorado was the defending Stanley Cup champions, and Detroit were President's Trophy champions. Three games went into overtime, with Colorado winning two of them. The Avalanche found themselves up in the series 3–2 leading up to game six at the Pepsi Center in Colorado.
- Near the end of the first period while the game was deadlocked 0–0, Red Wings defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom took a shot on goal at Colorado goalie Patrick Roy which rebounded in front of Roy. Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman then shot the puck back on goal, where it rebounded once more, and he shot it again, where Roy seemed to corral it and make the save. Several Avalanche and Red Wings players converged on the goal, and Roy then stood up and raised his glove hand in the air in a "Statue of Liberty" pose, as if to say that he had made the save.
- What Roy didn't realize is that he didn't have the puck in his glove. As he stood up, the puck fell out of his equipment, lying exposed in the open crease. Red Wings forward Brendan Shanahan then shot it into the goal, giving the Red Wings a 1–0 lead. As soon as Roy realized what had happened, he slumped over. As Detroit went on to win the game 2–0, this goal served as the game-winner.
- The goal has since been remembered as one of the most notorious gaffes in Stanley Cup play. Furthermore, the events of the following game 7 are often tied with the Statue of Liberty Goal, in which Detroit shut out Colorado 7–0 at Joe Louis Arena, with Roy letting in 6 of those goals. The "7 in 7" capped off Detroit's second playoff series victory over Colorado, and their fourth trip to the Cup Finals in eight years (their third Cup win).
- June 7, 2003: "Off The Floor! On The Board!" (Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 5, New Jersey Devils 2, Game 6, Stanley Cup Finals)
- The Ducks had made a Cinderella Run for the Stanley Cup Finals in 2003. As the Western Conference seventh seed, they started this run by sweeping the defending Cup champion Detroit Red Wings in the first round. They then defeated the Dallas Stars in the second round in six games, including a 5OT game 1 win in the fourth-longest game in NHL history. Then they swept the Minnesota Wild in a Conference Finals which saw Ducks goalie Jean-Sébastien Giguère give up only one goal, an NHL record in a best-of-seven series. They then faced the New Jersey Devils in the Cup finals. With the home team winning all games in the series up to game six, the Devils were leading the series 3–2. In this game, the Ducks took a 3–1 lead. With 13:44 to play in the second period, notorious hard-checking Devils defensemen Scott Stevens laid a hard hit to Ducks captain Paul Kariya, which resulted in him being knocked down cold onto the ice. Kariya looked to be out for the game, however, he returned to the ice four and a half minutes later. John Davidson (who was calling the game for ABC) said live: “I tell you what, [Kariya]’s sure showing me something. I didn’t think we’d be seeing him till next season.” Kariya then scored at 17:15 of the second period, which ultimately put the game out of reach for the Devils. The goal produced this memorable quote from ABC play-by-play announcer Gary Thorne (who shared an alma mater with Kariya, both having gone to the University of Maine): “Near side, Kariya. Kariya, the fans want one. Score!!! Off the floor! On the board! Paul Kariya!"
The Devils won the following game, defeating the Mighty Ducks 3-0, as they captured their third Stanley Cup championship in nine seasons. However, Jean-Sébastien Giguère did win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup playoffs that year.
- February 5, 2004: The Flu Game (Toronto Maple Leafs 5, Ottawa Senators 4, OT)
- The influenza virus hovered over this Battle of Ontario game. The Senators looked to avenge a 5–1 loss in their previous matchup against their provincial rivals. They roared out to a 3–0 lead in the first period, then added another marker early in the second for a 4–0 score. The Leafs got on the board midway through the second period with a puck shot by Robert Reichel being deflected off of Darcy Tucker's skate into the net. Mikael Renberg then cut the lead to two with a goal after a scramble behind the net. Owen Nolan then shot a puck which trickled to the goal line, where Matt Stajan then swatted it in for a goal to wrap up the second-period scoring, and pulled the Leafs within one. Leafs captain Mats Sundin then scored with 5:03 left in the third period to tie the game at 4–4. Nolan then scored with 30.7 seconds left in overtime to complete the comeback. The Maple Leafs had scored five unanswered goals in the second half of the game to make a comeback win.
- As both teams were sick with the flu, the benches had emptied from players who had to be taken out of the game, or were inactive. Adding to the players already inactive due to previous injuries (and Marian Hossa leaving the game after getting hit in the face with the puck), this was an injury-depleted contest. The Senators especially felt the effects. However, Maple Leafs forward Owen Nolan (who got an assist, and the game-winning goal while battling the flu himself) offered no sympathy, giving this memorable quip during a post-game interview: ``I don't care...We're tired, too, and we battled back and we were down by four...I'm sure they have their excuses ready to go." Nolan's remark has often been quoted as "Boo Hoo", although this may be apocryphal, and rather a summation of what Nolan truly said (that he didn't feel sorry for the Senators). The Flu Game became a popular antagonizing piece of fuel for Maple Leafs fans in the provincial rivalry for years to come.
- March 5, 2004: Flyers–Senators Brawl (Philadelphia Flyers 5, Ottawa Senators 3)
- The Philadelphia Flyers and the Ottawa Senators made history at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia on March 5. This brawl was inspired by events that took place a week earlier in Ottawa. In that game, forwards Mark Recchi and Martin Havlat of the Flyers and Senators respectively had a frank exchange, which saw Recchi hook Havlat, and Havlat retaliating by slashing Recchi in the face. Havlat received a 5-minute major penalty, game misconduct, and eventually a two-game suspension and a fine of $36,000 considering his conduct throughout the season. Both Recchi and Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock made statements alluding to revenge on Havlat.
- The two teams met again the following week in Philadelphia. The Flyers were leading 5–2 with 1:49 left in the third period. Philadelphia's Donald Brashear and Ottawa's Rob Ray began fighting, and this set up a chain reaction through the rest of the game. Once that fight ended, Ottawa's Todd Simpson then came after Brashear. In the midst of that, several players started a melee brawl, including goaltenders Patrick Lalime and Robert Esche. After roughly five minutes of chaos and eventual order, Radovan Somik and Chris Neil then began another fight, which in turn escalated into another brawl between all skaters. After that calmed down, the next faceoff saw Michal Handzus and Mike Fisher start fighting, and yet another chain reaction all-skater brawl took place. After the game, off-ice personnel almost started scrapping as well, with Flyers general manager Bobby Clarke trying to go after Senators coach Jacques Martin.
- March 8, 2004: Todd Bertuzzi–Steve Moore Incident (Colorado Avalanche 9, Vancouver Canucks 2)
- The incident was borne out of one that took place in a Vancouver Canucks-Colorado Avalanche game a month previously. In that game, Avalanche forward Steve Moore head checked Vancouver captain Markus Naslund, taking him out for three games. The widely criticized incident did not incur any punishment, as the league determined that it was clean. The Canucks then hosted the Avalanche at Rogers Arena on March 8, and many Canucks players made physical attempts to come at Moore. This led to the first-period fight between Moore and Vancouver's Matt Cooke. The game ultimately turned into a 9–2 rout for the Avalanche. Canucks winger Todd Bertuzzi, possibly in an attempt to avenge his teammates, went after Moore during a shift late in the third period. Moore continued to ignore Bertuzzi, in which Bertuzzi then grabbed Moore's jersey from behind, punched him in the jaw, and then fell atop him onto the ice. Several other players landed on the two of them, resulting in a dog pile that put tremendous force on Moore at the bottom. He suffered three fractured neck vertebrae, was cut in the face, and incurred a concussion, lying prone on the ice for ten minutes. He has ultimately carried off the ice on a stretcher, with Bertuzzi visibly shaken at how the situation had come to play out.
- Bertuzzi was ejected from the game, and later suspended indefinitely from the NHL. This played out as a suspension for the remainder of the season. Furthermore, with the 2004–05 NHL lockout the coming year, he was also banned from playing in leagues governed by the International Ice Hockey Federation with other NHLers. He faced criminal assault charges and a civil suit by Moore's estate, the latter being settled out of court. He was reinstated on August 8, 2005, citing his length of suspension and remorse over the incident. Steve Moore spent over a year recovering from the incident. Despite offers from the Anaheim Ducks, and continued physical therapy efforts years later, he was ultimately never medically cleared to play hockey again. This incident began to heavily implicate the role of enforcers and the culture of revenge in the NHL, a precursor to the changes away from such that would occur in the next decade.
- June 5, 2004: Martin Gelinas: The Phantom Goal (Tampa Bay Lightning 3, Calgary Flames 2, Game 6, 2OT, Stanley Cup Finals)
- The Lightning and Flames met in the Cup Finals, with the Flames going hot in the postseason, and making a cinderella run as the Western Conference 6th playoff seed. The teams exchanged victories up to game six, with Calgary leading the series 3–2. In the second period of game six, both teams broke the 0–0 tie with two Tampa Bay goals by Brad Richards, and two Calgary goals by Chris Clark and Marcus Nilson. The third period saw a very controversial incident that took life in hockey debate for years to come. Flames forward Oleg Saprykin came in on Tampa Bay's goal with the puck, shooting it from goalie Nikolai Khabibulin's left side. Khabibulin made a save with his stick laying horizontal on the ice, where the puck rolled down the length of his stick, popping out to the front of the goal crease to the right of Khabibulin, where it bounced off of the shin of Flames forward Martin Gelinas, redirecting back towards the goal. Khabibulin again made a quick blocker save to push the puck out of the goal, but it was then hotly contested as to whether the puck had crossed the goal line or not. The play was examined at the NHL headquarters, the ABC replays seemed to show the puck has completely crossed the goal line, but play resumed with no call regardless. It would take 33 seconds into the second overtime before Lightning forward Martin St. Louis scored the game-winner, sending the series back to Tampa Bay.
- The call became so controversial that a CGI company based out of Calgary, Alberta analyzed the play to determine whether the call on the ice was correct. ABC television then showed the results during game seven. Ultimately, the CGI showed that while a very close call, there was no conclusive evidence that the puck had completely crossed the goal line. The call was deemed correct, as such conclusive evidence would have been needed to overturn a ruling on the ice, let alone this non-call. The Lightning went on to win game seven 2–1, and thus the Stanley Cup.
- January 15, 2006: The Ovi Dive (Washington Capitals 6, Phoenix Coyotes 1)
- During a game between the Washington Capitals and Phoenix Coyotes, Alexander Ovechkin sped the puck past Paul Mara, deked defenseman Jeff Taffe, and dove down while putting the puck past a flabbergasted Brian Boucher. It was considered to be one of Ovechkin's memorable goals.
- January 4, 2007: The Improbable Becomes Impossible (Dallas Stars 6, Edmonton Oilers 5, SO)
- While the Dallas Stars defeated the Edmonton Oilers 6-5 in the shootout on January 4, 2007, it was most remembered for the final seconds of the game. With 14.3 seconds left in the third period, Dallas leads 5-4. Patrik Stefan stole the puck from the Oilers and casually skated to the empty net. Then, he lost his edge on the puck and missed the net, causing a turnover. Petr Sykora gave a long-distance pass to Ryan Smyth, in which he passed to Alex Hemsky, and Hemsky scored the goal with about 2.4 seconds left in the third to tie the game. When interviewed, Stefan replied, "They may show it a million times for years to come." After the goal, Dallas Stars announcer Ralph Strangis had this to say about it, “In a building where the improbable happens.... we've just seen the impossible!"
- June 6, 2007: Chris Phillips: The Own Goal, Pt. II (Anaheim Ducks 6, Ottawa Senators 2, Game 5, Stanley Cup Finals)
- The Anaheim Ducks had taken a 3–1 series lead against Ottawa, and were poised to win their franchise's first Stanley Cup in game 5 at the Honda Center. Anaheim scored twice in the first period to jump out to a 2–0 lead on goals by Andy McDonald and Rob Neidermayer. Daniel Alfredsson cut the lead to one halfway through the second period. However, the most infamous moment in the series came roughly 4 minutes later. A dump in by Anaheim's Travis Moen caused Ottawa goalie Ray Emery to leave the crease and play the puck, setting it up for the advancing Chris Phillips to play it out of the zone. As Emery skated back into the crease, Phillips skated forward and mishandled the puck, causing it to fly loose from his stick blade. It then slid between the narrow gap between the goal post and Emery's skates, and into the net. The own goal gave Anaheim a 3–1 lead.
- Moen was credited with the goal as the last member of the Ducks to handle the puck. Although the game ended as a 6–2 blowout win for the Ducks, Alfredsson scored once more at 17:38 of the second. This ultimately made Phillips' gaffe the official game-winner for Anaheim, as the Ducks captured their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Phillips was quoted after the game as saying "Now I know how Steve Smith feels".
- April 13, 2008: The Avery Rule Game (New Jersey Devils 4, New York Rangers 3, Game 3, OT, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals)
- Game 1 in the series was a 4–1 win to the Rangers. They also scored a comeback win in game 2, with two goals just 23 seconds apart in the third period for a 2–1 win. Game 3 saw a moment often deemed funny and/or unsportsmanlike by many NHL fans and personalities. With the game tied 1–1, The Rangers had a 5–on–3 Powerplay with 14:13 to play in the second period. Sean Avery then skated from the left side boards straight to Devils goalie Martin Brodeur's crease, stood straight in front of Brodeur, and waved his stick vertically in front of him. Brodeur attempted to push him away, but Avery didn't leave and continued waving his stick around in front of him. These actions even drew comments from one of the Versus network announcers, stating that he had never seen anything like what Avery was doing. Then, with 13:10 left in the second period, Avery caught a quick feed and scored the go-ahead goal, his third of the series. The Devils bounced back, and ultimately won the game in overtime. However, the day after the game, the NHL enacted a rule (henceforth known as the "Sean Avery Rule"), which would see behavior similar to Avery's in game 3 results in a minor penalty. Colin Campbell, Director of Hockey Operations released a statement saying: "An unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalty will be interpreted and applied, effective immediately, to a situation when an offensive player positions himself facing the opposition goaltender and engages in actions such as waving his arms or stick in front of the goaltender's face, for improperly interfering with and/or distracting the goaltender as opposed to positioning himself to try to make a play."
- Often tied with the events of the Avery Rule game are the post-series handshake and interview. The Rangers won the series 4–1, and Martin Brodeur then notably refused to shake Avery's hand in the handshake line. Avery then famously responded to this incident in an interview, saying: "Everyone talks about how classy, uh, un-classy I am, and fatso there just forgot to shake my hand, I guess."'
- April 21, 2009: 0.2 Seconds Left (Carolina Hurricanes 4, New Jersey Devils 3, Game 4, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals)
- The third-seeded Devils met the sixth-seeded Hurricanes in this first-round matchup. New Jersey held a 2–1 series lead after three games and met the Canes in Carolina for game 4. Carolina led after two periods 3–1, but New Jersey came back and tied the game 3–3. This score would hold until literally the last second of the game. Here, Hurricanes defenseman Dennis Seidenberg caught a feed with 1.1 seconds left on the clock, shot the puck, and it deflected off of Hurricanes forward Jussi Jokinen's skate, who became tangled up with Devils goalie Martin Brodeur just outside the goal crease, and the puck crossed the goal line with .2 seconds left on the clock. The play was then put under official review to confirm whether the goal was scored in time, and slow-motion instant replay confirmed that it was. Brodeur was upset, citing that an interference call should have been called on Jokinen, but none was, and the goal stood. Brodeur then slammed his stick into the boards and onto the ice in anger as he scurried off. Carolina would eventually take the series in Game 7 coming back from a score of 3–2 down by scoring 2 goals in the last two minutes to win the game and the series 4–3.
- April 28 2009: The Shock at the Rock (Carolina Hurricanes 4, New Jersey Devils 3, Game 7, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals)
Exactly one week after the Canes won game 4 with 0.2 seconds left, Carolina got this series to a 7th game. Trailing 3-2 in the final minutes of Game 7, the Hurricanes scored twice in the final 1:20 of the game to eliminate the Heavily Favored Devils in game 7. After the Devils took a 3-2 lead at 8:47 into the 2nd, the game was scoreless until the last 1:20 of the game, when the hurricanes scored twice to win the game and eliminate the Devils in game 7 in New Jersey.
- March 7, 2010: Matt Cooke's hit on Marc Savard (Pittsburgh Penguins 2, Boston Bruins 1)
- The Pittsburgh Penguins were hosting the Boston Bruins, and maintaining a 2–1 lead late in the third period. Around the 14:20 mark of the period, Cooke and Savard were following the play into the Boston defensive zone. Cooke then laid a shoulder blow to Savard's head. This knocked him to the ice, and out of the game with a concussion. Cooke was not penalized for the hit, with the officials having deemed it a clean play. However, the incident played a key role in the NHL re-analyzing how it addressed blindside hits, especially with the advent of the controversies surrounding concussions in sport. Ultimately, they decided to assess stricter punishment for such. This hit also served as the first of two concussions that Savard would receive in a 10-month span, the latter of which would result in his unofficial retirement due to post-concussion syndrome.
- May 14, 2010: 0–3 and 0–3: Philadelphia Pulls Off the Ultimate Comeback (Philadelphia Flyers 4, Boston Bruins 3, Game 7, Eastern Conference Semi-Finals)
- Philadelphia and Boston met in the playoffs for the first time since 1978. Boston won the first three games in the series, two close contests in Games 1 and 2 5–4 and 3–2, respectively, and a comfortable 4–1 win in Game 3. Philadelphia came away with a 5–4 overtime win in Game 4, avoiding the sweep in front of their home audience. They then shut out Boston 4–0 in Game 5, narrowing the series gap to one game. Game six was a much closer contest, the Flyers won 2–1, and became the fifth team in NHL history to tie a best-of-seven series after trailing three-games-to-none.
- Game 7 in Boston started off with the Bruins quickly building up a 3–0 lead in the first period, seemingly killing the Flyers chances of pulling off a rare comeback. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette then used the team's timeout in order to make some adjustments and possibly inspire the team. At 17:12 of the first period, rookie Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk scored a goal to narrow the gap 3–1. Scott Hartnell then scored at the 2:49 mark of the second period, narrowing the gap at 3–2. At 12:29 of the second period, Daniel Briere then scored to tie the game at 3–3.
- In a moment which drew comparisons to the infamous "Too Many Men" game in 1979, the Bruins were called for a too many men penalty off of a sloppy line change at the 12:15 mark of the third period. Simon Gagne then scored at 11:10 on the ensuing power play, and the Flyers had their first lead of the game. The Bruins failed to tie the game up before time ran out, and the Philadelphia Flyers had complete the series comeback. They had become the third NHL team to win a best-of-seven series after trailing 0–3, in which they did so after trailing Game 7 0–3 as well.
The Flyers later advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, but lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.
- February 11, 2011: Penguins–Islanders Brawl (New York Islanders 9, Pittsburgh Penguins 3)
- This brawl was borne out of aggression between the two teams throughout the season, with a punctuating moment occurring in the week leading up to the brawl. In a game on February 2, Penguins forward Maxime Talbot gave a legal body check to Islanders forward Blake Comeau, which ultimately induced a concussion, and sidelined him for four games. At the end of this game, Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro then shoved Penguins forward Matt Cooke upon entering the crease, initiating a small-scale brawl which saw a goalie fight between DiPietro and Brent Johnson. DiPietro was then sidelined for four weeks due to injuries sustained from this incident. The Islanders had then hinted at revenge for the February 11 game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
- The game kicked off, and the first fight broke out at the midway point of the first period between Craig Adams and Micheal Haley. The second fight occurred late in the period between the Isles Trevor Gillies and the Penguins Eric Godard. By this time, the game was turning into a 4–0 rout for the Islanders. Quickly after this, the first major brawl of the game occurred, with Matt Martin jumping Talbot from behind for retaliation on the Comeau hit from the Feb 2 game. This caused three fights to occur, with all players involved ejected. At the start of the third period, another brawl was kicked off when Trevor Gillies elbowed Penguins forward Eric Tangradi in the head, and then jumped on him with repeated strikes as he fell to the ice. Brent Johnson then fought Haley, with Godard leaving the bench to come to Johnson's aid. Another brawl broke out around the 16:00 mark of the third, and then another fight with just under three minutes left in the game. The game ended with 346 penalty minutes assessed, 65 penalties, 21 players ejected, and record PIMs for both teams. The Islanders were fined $100,000 and Godard received a ten-game suspension for leaving the bench, with Gillies getting nine games for his attack on Tangradi (which induced a concussion).
- June 15, 2011: Second Vancouver Stanley Cup Riot (Boston Bruins 4, Vancouver Canucks 0, Game 7, Stanley Cup Finals)
- The Vancouver Canucks hosted the Boston Bruins for game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. Vancouver had segmented off "fan zones" with large televisions throughout the streets leading up to Rogers Arena for the duration of the Finals. These zones accumulated many fans, with over 100,000 coming out for Game 7. Riots are usually expected after championship games, and Vancouver was notably singled-out in hockey culture for the riot that broke out after their Stanley Cup loss in 1994.
- Nonetheless, opportunists had been reported as trying to incite chaos as early as the first period. Boston ultimately won game seven 4–0, and hoisted the Cup in Vancouver. After the game, problems further escalated with irate fans hurling bottles at the large viewing screens. People then started flipping cars and setting them ablaze, and Vancouver police swept rioters onto Granville Street and Robson Street. Here, the substantial portion of the riot broke out, with businesses being vandalized and looted.
- Roughly 140 people were injured, 101 were arrested, and an estimated $5 million CAD in damage was done. A notable moment in the riot occurred when Alexandra Thomas of Coquitlam, BC was knocked down by police. Her boyfriend, Scott Jones, then lay with her on the ground, and the two kissed as a means to comfort her. The "Kissing Couple" photo was named by Sports Illustrated as the "most compelling image of the year". The 2011 Vancouver riot, while far from the only one committed within hockey culture, ultimately became more prolific than most due to intense media coverage.
- May 25, 2012: Henrique Puts the Rangers to Bed (New Jersey Devils 3, New York Rangers 2, Game 6, OT, Eastern Conference Finals)
- It was the sixth time that the Devils and Rangers met in the playoffs. It was also the second time that both teams faced each other in the Conference Finals since 1994. After overcoming a 2-1 series deficit, the Devils lead 3-2 after winning games four and five. In game six, New Jersey had a 2-0 lead in the game. However, the Rangers responded right back in the second period tying the game at two. Then, the game was sent into overtime. Ilya Kovalchuk sent the puck in, followed by Alexei Ponikarovsky taking a shot. Then, Kovalchuk continued to poke at the puck until Adam Henrique put in the loose rebound behind Henrik Lundqvist. The goal produced this quote from Mike Emrick:
"Henrique lofted it ahead, it got on to Kovalchuk, and Kovalchuk, a shot, that's carefully played away by Lundqvist. Now, Ponikarovsky with it. Threw one in front! Blocked there! Scramble for it, they poke away at it! Still it's lose! Poked at by Kovalchuk.... THEY SCORE! HENRIQUE! IT'S OVER!"
The Devils advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2003. They faced the Los Angeles Kings in the finals, but lost in six games.
- January 24, 2013: The Seventh Heaven Dive: Part II (Edmonton Oilers 2, Los Angeles Kings 1, OT)
Due to the 2012–13 NHL lockout, all games in 2012 were canceled until January 2013. As a result, the Oilers began their season on January 20, 2013. After winning the first game on the road against the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout 3-2 and then falling in their home opener to the San Jose Sharks 6-3, the Oilers played their third game of the season, but the second one at home, playing against the defending Stanley Cup champions, Los Angeles Kings. After a scoreless first period, the Kings struck first, on a goal by Jeff Carter. Then, with 4.7 seconds remaining in the third period, Nail Yakupov shot in a loose rebound from the slot, tying the game. He then proceeded to sprint across the ice and did the same gliding dive that Theoren Fleury did in 1991. The game was sent to overtime, where Sam Gagner scored a power play game-winning goal for Edmonton.
When Fleury saw the goal, he supported Yakupov's celebration and remarked, "I would've done the same thing. He did pretty good and took a better route than I did. At least he had more time to slide on the ice."
- May 13, 2013: Toronto's Game 7 Gut Punch/Boston Kills The Beast (Boston Bruins 5, Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Game 7, OT, Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals)
- Boston and Toronto met each other in the playoffs for the first time since 1974. Boston had won the Stanley Cup two years previously, and were considered top contenders for the 2013 Cup. Whereas, the often-struggling Maple Leafs had their first playoff berth in a decade. Boston led the series 3–1 after game 4, but Toronto bounced back and won games five and six by 2–1 scores each. This set up for game 7 in Boston.
- Toronto appeared to be ready to pull off an upset, roaring out to a 4–1 lead by the halfway point of the third period, aided by two Cody Franson goals. Boston then grinded out one of the most famous comebacks in NHL history. Nathan Horton scored at the 9:08 mark, cutting the lead to two for the Leafs. With roughly two minutes left in the game, Boston pulled goalie Tukka Rask for an extra attacker. Milan Lucic scored at the 18:06 mark of the period to cut the deficit to one goal, and then Patrice Bergeron knotted the game up at four goals a piece at the 19:09 mark. Finally, at the 6:05 mark of the overtime period, Boston rode this momentum to victory with another Bergeron goal. Boston won the series, and became the first team in NHL history to win a game seven after trailing by three goals in the third period.
- Hockey columnist Sean McIndoe (an avowed Toronto Maple Leafs fan), referred to this event as "Toronto's Game 7 Gut Punch" in his Grantland article the following day. He noted that Maple Leafs fans could accept losing the game, as they had never expected to win the series or even reach the playoffs. However, the way in which the Leafs lost was far worse than anyone could've anticipated. NESN announcer Jack Edwards delivered an emphatic call: "Bergeron scores! Patrice Bergeron! With the point of the dagger at their throats, they rip it out of Toronto's hands and KILL THE BEAST! The Boston Bruins have won it after being three down in the third!" 
- June 24, 2013: 17 Seconds (Chicago Blackhawks 3, Boston Bruins 2, Game 6, Stanley Cup Finals)
- After defeating the Minnesota Wild, Detroit Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings en route to the Finals, the Blackhawks were up in the series 3–2 over the Boston Bruins entering Game 6 at TD Garden. Chris Kelly scored for Boston in the first period, and Chicago responded in the second period with a goal by Jonathan Toews. Milan Lucic scored midway through the third, putting the Bruins ahead 2–1.
- As time wound down to the final two minutes, Chicago pulled goalie Corey Crawford from net for an extra attacker. At 18:44 of the third period, Bryan Bickell scored for Chicago to tie the game 2–2 and potentially force overtime. Just 17 seconds later, Dave Bolland scored at 19:01, putting the Blackhawks ahead 3–2. Unable to channel any remaining magic from their comeback against Toronto earlier in the playoffs, the Bruins could not tie the game in the final minute, and the Blackhawks went on to win their fifth franchise Stanley Cup, their second in three years. The goals were scored 17 seconds apart, leading to the game being referred to as "17 Seconds" amongst Blackhawks fans, which stood as the name for their 2013 championship video.
- April 30, 2014: Los Angeles Pulls Off the Ultimate Comeback (Los Angeles Kings 5, San Jose Sharks 1, Game 7, Western Conference Quarterfinals)
- The Kings had an especially notable Stanley Cup run in 2014. Aside from defeating their two in-state division rivals, they also won three game sevens on the road. To start the post-season, they faced their in-state division rivals, the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks dominated Games 1 and 2 by 6–3 and 7–2 scores, respectively. A Game 3 4–3 win in overtime placed them firmly in control of the series, 3–0. From this point on, the Kings seemed to undergo a complete transformation. They started by winning Game 4 6–3 to avoid the series sweep. Then they blanked the Sharks 3–0 in Game 5, with Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick returning to form. The Sharks were unable to regain momentum in Game 6, losing 4–1, and placing the Kings where few NHL teams had been before. The series was now even at 3–3 heading back to the Shark Tank in San Jose.
- Sharks defenseman Matt Irwin broke the scoreless tie 28 seconds into the second period of game seven. However, the Kings took control of the game before the period was over, with a Drew Doughty goal at 4:57, and another by Anze Kopitar at 18:39. Kings forward Tyler Toffoli widened the gap at 3–1 at 4:40 of the third period. The Sharks pulled their goalie in the final minutes in a desperate attempt to tie the game and force overtime, but assurance goals by Dustin Brown and Tanner Pearson with two and one minutes left respectively sealed the Sharks' fate. The Los Angeles Kings became the fourth team in NHL history to win a best-of-seven series after trailing three games to none.
- December 16, 2014: 20 Rounds: The Marathon Shootout (Florida Panthers 2, Washington Capitals 1, SO)
- This game at BB&T Center was tied 1–1 at the end of regulation and the five-minute overtime period. The Shootout was a marathon contest, with the Panthers responding with a goal to extend the shootout every time the Capitals had scored. Washington's Alexander Ovechkin opened up the shootout scoring with a goal at the top of the fourth round, and Florida's Jussi Jokinen responded immediately afterward. A few rounds later, Washington's Brooks Laich scored to take the lead for the Capitals, followed by Dave Bolland scoring to tie it back up. Another three rounds later, Washington's Joel Ward again took the lead for the Caps, with Derek MacKenzie responding afterward. The next round saw John Carlson put the Capitals ahead once more, with Sean Bergenheim again evening the shootout, 4–4. Six rounds later, Washington's Brooks Orpik gave Washington another shootout lead, with Dylan Olsen of Florida again tying it 5–5. Finally, in the record 20th round of the shootout, Florida's Nick Bjugstad scored the game-winner after Alexander Ovechkin failed to score in the previous attempt at the top of the round. This 20-round shootout broke the previous record set on November 26, 2005, between the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals, a 3–2, 15-round shootout Rangers victory. With this record, the Capitals have played in the two longest NHL shootout decisions in history, losing both of them on the road.
- April 18, 2016: The Wristband Game (Washington Capitals 6, Philadelphia Flyers 1, Game 3, Eastern Conference Round 1)
On April 11, 2016, three days before the playoffs began for the Flyers, the team lost its owner, Ed Snider, who died from bladder cancer at age 83. When the Flyers started the first round against the Washington Capitals, they were trailing 2-0 in the series after losing 2-0 and 4-1 in the first two games in Washington. On April 18, the Flyers returned home for game three, looking to get back into the series. Prior to the game, the team did a beautiful tribute presentation in honor of Snider. The sold-out crowd at Wells Fargo Center was given light-up wristbands as part of the presentation. After the presentation, the crowd was full of electric cheers. The game began with a bang as Michael Raffl tallied the first goal for the Flyers. However, everything went from sweet to sour for the Flyers as the Capitals rebounded quickly, tying the game in the first period and continuing to score in the second and third periods by tallying five unanswered goals. To make matters worse, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was ejected after he laid a vicious hit on the Capitals' Dmitry Orlov. This led to a big scuffle between both teams. As Orlov left the scene of the brawl, a wristband was thrown at him. When the Flyers were trailing big in the game, the Flyers fans were enraged as they threw their wristbands on the ice, pelting players and littering the ice. Alexander Ovechkin and Wayne Simmonds went to center ice, urging the crowd to stop throwing the wristbands. Even Flyers PA announcer Lou Nolan asked them to stop. To much of his disgust, he told them, "Show some class. This is Philly." Unfortunately, the fans did not cease, which then led to a bench minor delay of game penalty for the Flyers. Philadelphia lost the game 6-1, but won the next two games. However, the Flyers fell in six games to the Capitals. Following the incident the next day, April 19, Flyers goaltender Steve Mason told the media, "We don't like to see that. The organization doesn't like to see it either. We don't want to see that happen." Snider's daughter, Sarena, reacted and posted on Twitter, "My dad would've called the wristband throwers a 'disgrace' & may have spoken publicly. But he wouldn't look back, only forward." Even Capitals coach Barry Trotz reacted to the incident, as he remarked, "I thought it was just a little bit uncalled for. And it got dangerous for not only our players but also for the Flyer players. You look at those bracelets, they're white, the ice is white. All you need is Claude Giroux to step on one and snap his leg in half or one of our guys." 
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- List of NHL seasons
- List of pre-NHL seasons
- List of Stanley Cup Champions
- National Hockey League rivalries
- Traditions and anecdotes associated with the Stanley Cup
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