The 20 Most Important Goals in NHL Stanley Cup Playoff History
There have been some incredible plays this year in the NHL, but now that the postseason is set to begin, everything means more.
Every shift is important.
Every goal could be a game-winner.
Every game is critical.
Someone, somewhere, will be a hero.
And, at some point in June, someone will score a goal that clinches the Stanley Cup for his team.
While we don't know what the script will be for the next couple months of incredible hockey, there have been some incredible goals in the history of the NHL postseason.
What follows is a look back at the 20 most important goals in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
1933: Bill Cook
Bill Cook was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1952, and was a key member of the famous "Bread Line" for the New York Rangers in the 1930s with his brother, Bun Cook, and Frank Boucher.
But in 1933, he did something no player had done before: He won the Stanley Cup with an overtime Cup-clinching goal. He scored at 7:34 to finish off the Toronto Maple Leafs.
1946: Toe Blake
The Toronto Maple Leafs won five times in seven years between 1945-1951, but one of the two seasons they failed to win the game's ultimate prize the Cup wound up in Montreal, where the Cup would be in 1944 and 1946.
When Toe Blake scored the Cup-clinching goal in 1946 (at 11:06 in the third period of Game 5), the Montreal forward became the first player in NHL history to score two Stanley Cup-clinching goals; he scored in overtime to complete a sweep of Chicago in 1944.
1984: Ken Linseman
Ken Linseman scored a Cup-clinching goal only seconds into the second period of Game 5 of the 1984 Stanley Cup Finals. The goal was significant for two reasons.
First, the goal clinched the Cup for the Edmonton Oilers, effectively ending the four-year reign of the New York Islanders.
But more importantly, the goal clinched the first Cup for the Oilers. Edmonton would go on to win four championships in five years before Wayne Gretzky was traded to LA (and they would win another in 1990, giving them five in seven seasons).
1979: Jacques Lemaire
Jacques Lemaire played for the Canadiens from 1967-79.
In those 12 seasons, Lemaire and the Habs won eight Stanley Cups while he piled up 139 points in 145 career playoff games.
But in 1979, at 62 seconds in the second period, Lemaire scored a Cup-clinching goal that would indeed be his final tally with the Canadiens. He would retire after the game and eventually wind up behind the bench.
He was one of the great champions of all-time, and this was his second Cup-clinching goal (he scored an OT winner in 1977). But the end of the Lemaire era in Montreal makes the list.
1991: Mario Lemieux
A breakaway that has now been immortalized as a statue outside the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins, this unreal move from Super Mario in Game 2 of the 1991 Stanley Cup Finals is one of the greatest ever scored.
2000: Jason Arnott
In the second overtime of the sixth game of an epic Stanley Cup Finals, Jason Arnott put home this Cup-clinching goal.
He is the last player to score a Cup-clinching goal after the first overtime period ended.
1974: Rick MacLeish
The Flyers won two Stanley Cups in a row in 1974 and 1975 (and haven't won one since). Rick MacLeish was credited with the Cup-clinching goal in the 1974 series at 14:48 in the first period.
What made this goal historic was that it cliched the Cup for the Flyers, making Philadelphia the first non-Original Six franchise to win the Stanley Cup.
1967: Jim Pappin
In the closing moments of the second period of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 1967, Jim Pappin scored what would become a Cup-clinching goal.
The Habs had won the two previous Cups, and would win two more in 1968 and 1969, meaning Pappin's goal would interrupt a would-be five-peat for Montreal.
But more importantly, Pappin still holds the distinction of being the last Maple Leafs player to score a Cup-clinching goal.
1997: Darren McCarty
Darren McCarty extended the Red Wings' lead to 2-0 in the second period of Game 4 of the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals, but the tally would hold up as the Cup-clinching score and break Detroit's 42-year Cup drought.
1980: Bob Nystrom
At 7:11 in overtime in Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Finals, Bob Nystrom scored a Cup-clinching goal that would give the New York Islanders their first summer as champions.
The Islanders would win four in a row as one of the great high-scoring dynasties in NHL history, but Nystrom clinched the first in overtime.
1930: Howie Morenz
Back in 1930, the Stanley Cup Finals were a best-of-three format and the Canadiens won the first two games against the Boston Bruins to finish off a championship. Only 60 seconds into the second period, one of the best ever, Howie Morenz, scored what would become the Cup-clinching goal.
Why was this a huge goal? It clinched the first Cup for the Montreal Canadiens.
1999: Brett Hull
There have been many kick SAVES in the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but now many kick GOALS have clinched the Stanley Cup?
And in the third overtime period of Game 6?
He might not ever admit it in public, but Brett Hull's feet were as mighty as his stick for the Stars in 1999, and he's one of the most hated men in Buffalo to this day.
1934: Mush March
In 1934, Mush March broke a 0-0 game with a Stanley Cup-winning goal in double overtime against Detroit to clinch the first Cup for the Chicago Blackhawks.
It was the first Cup win in the history of the Chicago franchise, and the first time in Finals history that the Cup was clinched in a second overtime period.
1988: Wayne Gretzky
The 1988 Stanley Cup Finals were incredible on many levels.
Edmonton ultimately was credited with a sweep of Boston despite the two teams playing five games; Game 4 was cancelled at 16:37 in the second period because of a power failure at the Garden.
In Game... 4b (?), the game-winning (Cup-clinching) goal in the Oilers' 6-3 win came off the stick of The Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky. It would be the final tally scored by Gretzky in an Edmonton sweater, as he was traded to LA in August.
After the game, Gretzky requested a photo with the Cup with everyone in the Oilers organization on the ice. That became an annual tradition still practiced today.
1994: Stephane Matteau
Mark Messier is famous for guaranteeing a Rangers victory before Game 6 of the 1994 Conference Finals against New Jersey, and he certainly backed up his swagger with a hat trick in the critical elimination game.
But they still had to play Game 7.
For the second time in the series, Stephane Matteau scored an overtime game-winning goal. But this time it clinched the series. The emotion from this great series carried into an epic seven-game series against the Canucks that was ultimately won by the Rangers.
1951: Bill Barilko
Bill Barilko is a unique, and tragic, story in Stanley Cup Finals history.
He holds the distinction of scoring a Cup-clinching overtime goal in the only Finals series in which all five games went into overtime. Four months later, Barilko died in a plane crash on his way home from a fishing trip in rural Quebec
1996: Steve Yzerman
In the second overtime of a Game 7, Steve Yzerman cemented his place in the history of the game with an epic game (and series) winning goal.
Detroit didn't win the Stanley Cup in 1996, but this goal by Yzerman set the table for a return to the top for the Red Wings. They haven't looked back at the Dead Wings era since this goal.
1950: Steve Babando
Steve Babando might not be a household name, but he holds on incredible distinction in NHL history. He is the only player in the history of the league to score a Stanley Cup-winning goal in double overtime in Game 7 of the Finals.
He did it in 1950 for the Red Wings.
2010: Patrick Kane
It was the first overtime Cup-clinching goal in 10 years.
It ended a 49-year Cup drought. In a Game 6. On the road.
But what made this goal both unique and crazy was that Kane was the only guy in the building that knew he had just clinched the Stanley Cup.
While the Flyers bench and Blackhawks coaches waited for confirmation from the video officials, Kane led a bewildered group of teammates in a truly odd celebration on the ice.
1970: Bobby Orr
Forty seconds into overtime.
Not only did he finish off a sweep of the St. Louis Blues, but Orr then took flight in one of the great iconic moments in the history of any professional sport.