One hundred and eighty-two goals have already been scored in the 2012 NHL playoffs, but few have been fantastic enough to be considered among the best.
From elegant breakaways, to perfect deflections, to spotless passing plays, the opening weeks of the 2012 first round have brought a plethora of must-see highlights to the endless universe of YouTube—and we're bringing the eight most unforgettable ones directly to you.
Which flawless goals possessed enough "wow" factor to earn a spot on our top nine playoff goal power rankings? Count them all down, one by one, in the coming slides.
The New York Rangers won Game 1 of their series with the Ottawa Senators in decisive fashion, but Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson won the award for goal of the night with this magnificent tip.
The 39-year-old future Hall of Famer got his stick on linemate Jason Spezza's low-trajectory shot and deflected it up and over the shoulder of goalie Henrik Lundqvist and into the corner of the net. A deflection like this will rarely make it onto the highlight reel, but nevertheless, it's arguably one of the most skillful plays in hockey.
Unfortunately, Alfredsson has yet to return to the series, now tied 2-2, since being sidelined midway through Game 2.
The surreal Penguins-Flyers series has brought the NHL more amazing goals than perhaps all of the other matchups combined, but none were as spectacular as this steal 'n score by Philadelphia rookie Sean Couturier.
The youngster intercepted Pittsburgh defenseman Ben Lovejoy's D-to-D pass, setting up a clear lane to skate in on shaky goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Couturier made no mistake on his opportunity, moving in on his backhand before pulling it across his body for an easy tap-in tally.
The 19-year-old budding superstar went on to add another late goal to complete his first career hat trick.
St. Louis forward T.J. Oshie went under the check of one Sharks defender, deked through two more and then passed past another as he single-handedly set up a crucial David Backes goal for the Blues.
San Jose netminder Antti Niemi never really had a chance to stop the play, but four Sharks skaters—Jason Demers, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Justin Braun—certainly did, and Oshie made fools of them all.
The hometown Blues went on to win the game 3-0 to even the series, and then won both road games in California to hold a 3-1 lead at the moment.
The Washington Capitals needed something to get excited about as Game 3 wound down, and unheralded forward Brooks Laich solved that issue quickly with this unreal breakaway.
Set up by a brilliant pass from Nicklas Backstrom, Laich curved in towards the crease confidently and went upstairs on his shot to utterly embarrass legendary Boston Bruins netminder Tim Thomas.
The Caps did, unfortunately, fall 4-3 in the end, but they managed to respond at home a few nights later to even the series at two apiece.
Just about 48 hours after Brooks Laich scored on his gorgeous breakaway (see the previous slide), fellow Capitals forward Alex Semin unleashed a high-speed wrister into Thomas' net to send the Verizon Center crowd into another frenzy—and this time, it was enough to earn the Caps a victory.
Semin took his time to set up the play along the half-boards, but he soon discovered a tic-tac-toe passing sequence wouldn't be needed to score this time around. Instead, the 28-year-old impending free agent unleashed a laser beam shot into the net so fast that even Tim Thomas didn't notice it.
No. 28 may still be fighting to keep his job (and $6.3 million salary) in Washington during these playoffs, but his goal-scoring skill is certainly not the area in question.
San Jose Sharks rearguard Brent Burns can definitely be described as an offensive defenseman, but it's doubtful he's been faced with too many situations like this before.
Nonetheless, the 27-year-old handled the situation with ease, calmly settling down Joe Thornton's lob pass and then coolly skating around goalie Brian Elliot before capping off the gorgeous play with a nice backhand shot.
The opposing St. Louis Blues eventually skated away with a 4-3 victory, however, and won Game 4 as well to carry a commanding 3-1 series lead back to home ice.
You can't legally kick the puck into the goal, but as Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter proved last week, it's perfectly fine—and, in this case, extremely clever—to kick the puck to a teammate to set up a goal.
Carter, a February trade deadline acquisition for L.A., executed the fancy play to perfection in this Game 1 instance. Dustin Penner tapped the kick-pass into the gaping net mouth a moment later, and the Kings went on to upset the top-seeded Canucks 4-2.
Could a new All-Star skills competition event be invented as a result of this jaw-dropping play? We'd certainly love to see it!
Like aforementioned blueliner Brent Burns, underrated Nashville Predators defenseman Kevin Klein was probably shocked to see the open ice that lay ahead of him on this impressive individual performance.
Thankfully, though, Klein showed no signs of rust as he ripped by clueless Detroit D-man Brad Stuart—fighting through a blatant hooking penalty in the process—and outsmarted goaltender Jimmy Howard to light the red lamp. The tally put the Preds up 2-0 in the game, and it was a lead they would keep until the final buzzer en route to a 3-2 victory.
Interestingly enough, Klein scored another crucial goal in the next match of the series—Game 4—to help the Predators sweep their two games at Joe Louis Arena and eventually eliminate the Red Wings in five games.
With 15 seasons and 14 playoff runs of NHL experience—and every single one of them with the New Jersey Devils—36-year-old veteran scorer Patrik Elias knew he could beat Florida goalie Jose Theodore in this seemingly slow-motion mind battle.
He just needed to take his time.
Elias held the puck for a full three or four seconds, moving it all around his body as he went one-on-one with Theodore inches from the goal line, before finally roofing the puck into the far-side corner. Panther defenseman Jason Garrison, who ended up standing on the goal line simply trying to track the puck, had a chance to block the snap shot but just couldn't get his head off of a swivel in time.
The box score eventually listed Dainius Zubrus and Bryce Salvador with the assists on the goal, but there's little question that this one was simply Patrik Elias at his finest.