NHL Playoffs: 50 Most Shocking Moments in Stanley Cup Playoff History
Did that really just happen?
It's something you'll be asking yourself a lot in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. The intense culmination of the NHL season is always packed with intensity that can lead to incredible unexpected moments.
Incredible goals, hard hits, big saves, outrageous moments and wild outcomes all give hockey fans reasons to be in disbelief as the world's best hockey players compete for the sport's greatest prize.
We can predict all we want, but there's a reason they play the games—you never know what will happen.
Here are the most unbelievably shocking moments in NHL Stanley Cup playoff history.
Yes, they really did just happen.
50. Stevens Destroys Willis (2001)
A lot of hockey players are probably glad Scott Stevens retired; hits like this were a normal occurrence.
49. Flyers vs. Canadiens Pregame Brawl (1987)
The Flyers did not take kindly to the Canadiens' pregame ritual of shooting a puck into their net.
Ed Hospodar let them know in the clearest manner possible, going after the shooter, Shayne Corson. When Corson got away, they went after Claude Lemieux.
Heavyweights Dave Brown of Philadelphia and Chris Nilan of Montreal had the best fight of the sequence.
48. Ovechkin and Crosby Score Hat Tricks (2009)
47. Flyers' Goaltending Comes Through for Buffalo (2001)
Flapping a piece of cardboard in front of the net would've worked better.
The Flyers were eliminated in Game 6 of this first-round series.
46. Flyers' Goaltending Disaster (2011)
This was more of a storyline than a moment, but the shocking failure of Philadelphia's goaltending in the 2011 playoffs is why Ilya Bryzgalov now has a $51 million contract.
The Flyers started three different goalies: Brian Boucher, Sergei Bobrovsky and Michael Leighton. In the 11 playoff games, the goalies were pulled a total six times.
45. McLennan Gives No Relief (2007)
This is strangely reminiscent of a scene in D2: The Mighty Ducks, where the backup goalie gets kicked out of the game before even playing.
Jamie McLennan lasted a bit longer, playing 18 entire seconds.
44. Roy Accident (2002)
Patrick Roy had a tradition of holding up the puck after a good glove save. It did not work out so well for him this time.
42. Lindros Slams Konstantinov (1997)
To catch the hit during the live feed, look near the left blue line at the start of the video.
As Vladimir Konstantinov looks down for the puck, Eric Lindros hits him in the chest with his left shoulder. Konstantinov's head smashes against the glass as a result.
41. McCarty Locks Up the Cup (1997)
The Detroit Red Wings won their first Stanley Cup since 1955 when they swept the Philadelphia Flyers in 1997.
Darren McCarty's impressive second-period goal helped win Game 4.
40. Carcillo Wins Game 3 (2010)
Of all the players that could have won this game, it was Dan Carcillo.
39. Konstantinov Flips Lemieux (1996)
Claude Lemieux was a very angry man after this hit, and it showed later in the series.
38. Toews Forces Overtime (2011)
The Chicago Blackhawks were down 3-0 in this first-round series, pitting the defending Stanley Cup champions against the Presidents' Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks.
Chicago was able to win three games (including Game 6 in overtime) to force Game 7. Down one goal late in the game, Chicago captain Jonathan Toews tied the game.
37. Konstantinov Big Hit, Plus Red Wings Notch 3-0 Lead (1997)
Vladimir Konstantinov wrecked Dale Hawerchuk of the Philadelphia Flyers. Shortly after, the Detroit Red Wings scored to take a 3-0 lead in the 1997 Stanley Cup finals.
36. Habs Make Conference Finals (2010)
After knocking off the Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals in Round 1, the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens eliminated the defending Stanley Cup champions after being down 3-2 in the series.
This was the last game in Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena.
35. Thomas Robs Downie (2011)
What Tim Thomas called "luck and desperation" was one of the many saves that helped the Boston Bruins win the 2011 Stanley Cup.
34. Stevens Wrecks Kozlov (1995)
Slava Kozlov learned that trying to get by one defenseman might only put you in the path of the other one's shoulder.
Scott Stevens was there to deliver.
33. Kronwall Smashes Havlat (2009)
Niklas Kronwall is one of the hardest-hitting NHL players today. Havlat did not feel too great when he was given a first-hand example of Kronwall's abilities.
Look 45 seconds into this video for an expression you probably will never want to make.
32. Boucher Mask Save (2000)
Philadelphia's Brian Boucher stopped the puck with his mask—and it stayed there.
31. Nabokov Robbery (2008)
Nabokov not only went all the way across the crease to make this stop, but he got the puck with his glove.
30. Lappy Sacrifices Career (2010)
The Flyers' Ian Laperriere was a tough player who did all he could to help his team win. This included blocking shots.
Though Laperriere suffered a serious head injury as a result of this play that eventually caused him to miss the next two seasons, he ignored the symptoms and came back to play later in the playoffs.
All that to try winning a Stanley Cup.
29. Carolina Steals Game 7 in New Jersey (2009)
In the first round of 2009, the Devils were just 1:20 away from moving onto the second round after leading this game since 8:47 of the second period.
Two Hurricanes goals later, the Devils' season was over after that 1:20.
28. Giguere Shuts Down the Wild (2003)
Jean-Sebastien Giguere won the Conn Smythe in 2003 as the playoff's most valuable player. In the Western Conference Finals against the Minnesota Wild, Giguere gave up one goal in a four-game sweep.
He had a .992 save percentage and three shutouts.
27. Theodore Twirling Save (2002)
Jose Theodore made a save without looking while spinning around. That should not be possible.
26. Tucker Ruins Kapanen (2004)
Darcy Tucker was a big, hard hitter. Sami Kapenen was a small skater who got the ability to ice skate knocked out of him.
25. Kane Secretly Wins It (2010)
Not everyone immediately knew what was going on here. Patrick Kane's shot went through Michael Leighton's five-hole and was hidden as it was stuck underneath a part of the goal.
The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010 after this Game 6 overtime goal.
24. Umberger Destroyed by Campbell (2006)
The best hit in the NHL since the 2004-05 lockout, Buffalo's Brian Campbell (now with the Florida Panthers) demolished Philadelphia's R.J. Umberger (now with the Columbus Blue Jackets).
23. Sharks Beat Detroit (1994)
The Sharks won just 11 games in the 1992-93 season. The next year, they beat the Red Wings in a playoff series.
22. Puck Dances Along the Goal Line (2008)
The Pittsburgh Penguins got very close to sending Game 6 of the 2008 Stanley Cup finals into overtime, but the puck would not pass the goal line in the third period's final moments.
21. Lidstrom Shoots It at Fleury (2009)
The Detroit Red Wings were this close to tying Game 7 in the final seconds of the 2009 Stanley Cup finals, but Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury was there to make the save.
20. Crosby's Dive (2009)
Sidney Crosby won over the hearts of hockey fans everywhere when he survived a slash that would've amputated the legs of most other humans.
19. Lemieux Gets by a Constellation of North Stars (1991)
Mario Lemieux got by everyone to score this goal in the 1991 Stanley Cup finals.
18. Stevie Y Immortalized (1996)
Steve Yzerman blasted a slap shot in from the blue line in double overtime of Game 7.
This sent the Red Wings to the Western Conference finals against the Colorado Avalanche, where Detroit eventually lost.
Still, this incredible shot is one of the most memorable goals in NHL history.
17. Bat in the Fog (1975)
The ice was foggy, making visibility difficult and giving Game 3 of the 1975 Stanley Cup finals a memorable asset.
Then a bat entered the rink and it got a little more ridiculous.
16. Blues Fail to Show Up in Playoffs (2000)
St. Louis dominated the 1999-2000 season through the first 82 games, winning the Presidents' Trophy by a six-point margin.
But that was it; the eighth-seeded Sharks beat them in seven games.
15. RATS! (1996)
During Florida's 1996 run to the Stanley Cup finals, Scott Mellanby killed a rat in the Panthers' dressing room, making it logical for fans to throw fake rats onto the ice.
14. Lightning Deny Calgary (2004)
Calgary needed just one goal to win the Stanley Cup on their home ice in 2004, but Martin St. Louis sent the series to a seventh game. Tampa Bay won the Cup two nights later.
13. Anaheim Sweeps Detroit (2003)
The defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings totaled the third-most points in the NHL in 2002-03, but they were swept by the Mighty Ducks in the opening round.
12. Conklin Gives Away Game 1 (2006)
Edmonton Oilers goalie Ty Conklin misplayed the puck in the final minute of Game 1 of the 2006 Stanley Cup finals, allowing the Carolina Hurricanes to complete a three-goal comeback and win.
11. Edmonton Upsets Detroit (2006)
The Red Wings won an incredible 58 games during the 2005-06 season, the second-highest total in franchise history (they won 62 in 1996).
The Oilers were a No. 8 seed that defeated Detroit in six games before making a run to the finals.
10. Smith Blows Game 7 (1986)
This was the game-winning goal that ended Edmonton's season in 1986.
The Oilers won the Stanley Cup in the two seasons prior and after this year; what could they have done if Steve Smith didn't put it in his own goal?
9. Lemieux's Hit on Draper (1996)
This boarding from behind by Claude Lemieux on Kris Draper began a bloody rivalry that lasted for years.
8. Stevens Ends Lindros' Tenure with Philadelphia (2000)
During the 2000 Eastern Conference finals, Eric Lindros of the Philadelphia Flyers returned from yet another concussion in Game 6, scoring a goal in a 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils.
In just his second game back, the Flyers were down by a goal early in the first period.
Attempting to cut across the middle of the ice, Lindros looked down at the puck while deking.
As he lost control, Scott Stevens stepped up and delivered a crushing hit that made contact with Lindros' head. The hit silenced one of the most passionate arenas in hockey and set a tone for the rest of the night.
Philadelphia was eliminated and No. 88 would never play with the Flyers again.
7. Gagne Clinches Flyers' Comeback (2010)
If you don't already know the story, the video should tell you everything you need to know.
6. The Most Controversial NHL Goal Ever? (1999)
The NHL used to have a rule disallowing players from being in the crease before the puck was there. This goal won the Stars a cup, sparking controversy that probably still exists in Buffalo today.
5. Messier: Stuff of Legends (1994)
With the New York Rangers down 3-2 in the 1994 Eastern Conference finals, Mark Messier said the Rangers would win.
He came through on the guarantee, scoring a hat trick and forcing Game 7.
4. Matteau! (1994)
Two nights after Messier's hat trick, Stephan Matteau won Game 7 in overtime and sent the Rangers to the Stanley Cup finals, where they won in seven games.
3. Stevens Hit on Kariya (2003)
In Game 6 of the 2003 Stanley Cup finals, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim found themselves facing elimination against the New Jersey Devils. Anaheim found themselves leading the Devils by two goals in the second period.
Anaheim captain Paul Kariya intercepted a cross-ice pass by New Jersey's Scott Gomez in the neutral zone.
Kariya skated over the red line, sent a backhand pass towards a teammate along the side boards. After the pass, he was hit by Devils captain Scott Stevens.
Stevens put his left arm into Kariya, making contact with Kariya's head and sending him down to the ice, flat on his back.
Kariya had the wind knocked out of him and was completely unconscious. After a few seconds, he began breathing again. Play was stopped and the Anaheim athletic trainer came out. Kariya stayed down for 50 seconds before being helped off the ice.
The Anaheim bench was furious with the hit, believing it was late.
Kariya said after the game: "I sensed he was there, but I thought I had a little bit more time than that. That's Scott's game. He's very patient with his hits and he times them right. But I thought it was a little bit late."
2. Off the Floor, on the Board (2003)
After being in the locker room for a few minutes following Stevens' devastating hit, Kariya came back onto the bench to a standing ovation at the Arrowhead Pond.
Later in the period, Kariya put a slap shot past Martin Brodeur, giving Anaheim a 4-1 lead and effectively clinching Game 6 of the series.
He scored just 11 minutes of playing time after seeming seriously injured.
What occurred that night in Anaheim was an excellent display of the intensity that only playoff hockey can produce.
Kariya provided a heroic emotional lift by not only returning to the game after looking like a dead man for a few seconds, but scoring what was probably the most important goal of his career.
You will not find moments like this in any other sport.
1. Miracle on Manchester (1982)
With 21 teams in the NHL in the 1981-82 season, only five would miss the playoffs.
Under this setup, the 48-win Edmonton Oilers were matched against the 24-win Los Angeles Kings in a best-of-five first-round series. In the season series, Edmonton won five games, L.A. one and two games finished in a tie.
After two games, the series was tied 1-1. Edmonton entered the third period of Game 3 with a 5-0 lead.
The Kings scored five times in the third period (three of the goals coming with under 6:00 to play), including the tying goal with five seconds left.
Los Angeles won in overtime and later eliminated Edmonton in a deciding Game 5.
Not only was this an epic comeback, it was an incredible upset as well. The Oilers made it to the Stanley Cup finals six out of the next eight seasons.
Jason Sapunka covers the NHL and Philadelphia Flyers. He is available on Twitter for updates, commentary and analysis.
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