Witnessing a last-second comeback can be one of the most exhilarating, adrenaline-producing feelings a sports fan will ever come across. Just ask any New York Rangers’ fan from last night.
Of course, these moments are weighted by meaningfulness. A last-minute regular season goal will most certainly have you jumping out of your chair, but a last-second game seven comeback can produce enough anxiety to ensure an imminent heart attack.
With all due respect to Washington Capitals fans, here are the top ten greatest game-tying goals in hockey.
Perhaps the most infamous last-minute goal in NHL history.
Patrik Stefan was drafted first overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, and this is the biggest contribution he currently has to his NHL legacy.
With ten seconds left in the game, Stefan had a breakaway towards an open Oiler net when he mishandled the puck, stumbled over, and allowed the Oilers the opportunity to tie the game with three seconds left in regulation.
The Dallas Stars would go on to win the game in overtime, but Stefan's notorious blunder will forever cement him as one of the biggest draft busts in NHL history.
The last five minutes of this game saw each team combine for five different goals.
The Blues led 2-1, surrendered three goals, and found themselves on the wrong end of a 4-2 score. David Perron was able to bring them within one on the power play, which led to this desperately resilient effort by the Blues.
Barret Jackman did what Chris Mason was having difficulty doing and made a huge kick save to keep the Blues in it. Then David Backes swatted a Keith Tkachuk-rebound out of mid-air and tied the game with less than a second left.
The Blues would go on to win the game in a shootout.
The St. Louis Blues were down 5-0 in the third period of this game when Chris Pronger let a bullet go off an offensive-zone faceoff to pull the Blues within four.
From that point, the Blues continued to chip away at the Leafs’ seemingly insurmountable lead until Alexander Khavanov flipped the puck past Leafs’ goaltender Curtis Joseph to secure the greatest single period comeback in NHL history with 24.4 seconds left.
The Blues would go on to win the game in overtime.
Matt Cooke was all over the score sheet in this game. He scored both Vancouver goals and took a double-minor which allowed Jarome Iginla to give the Flames a 2-1 lead.
This, however, allotted Cooke the opportunity to score undoubtedly one of the most dramatic goals in Canucks history. The only way this could have been scripted better for the Canucks is if Martin Gelinas hadn’t scored on the power play in OT to give the Flames the win in the game and the series.
Both goaltenders played well in this game, and it was deadlocked until Martin Straka slapped the puck past Ryan Miller to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Then came the resilient push from the Buffalo Sabres.
With circa 15 seconds left on the clock. Chris Drury gained control of the puck along the boards, pushed it to Tim Connelly, whose shot got lost in a net-mouth scramble. But the puck had eyes for Drury who pushed it past Henrik Lundqvist to tie the game 1-1.
The Sabres would go on to win the game in overtime.
Most Blackhawk fans probably don’t remember how close the Hawks came to losing this series with Nashville.
With just over a minute remaining in the third period and down by one goal, Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa took a five-minute major boarding penalty, seemingly assuring the Blackhawks would head back to Nashville for a game six in which they would trail the series 3-2.
With the clock and the man advantage against them, the Hawks were still able to gain control of the puck and pull their netminder. With 15 seconds left in the game, Jonathan Toews threw the puck at the net. It ricocheted off Predators’ winger Joel Ward and right to Patrick Kane who swept it in to tie the game.
Hossa, who took the initial boarding penalty, would score seconds after coming out of the box in overtime and give the Hawks the series lead.
I cheated a little here.
The game-tying goal in this game did not take place in the last minute of regulation. But such a huge, momentous turnaround in such a short span of time at such an important time of the year warrants mention on this list.
The Hurricanes, facing elimination, scored two sequential goals at the end of this game on arguably the greatest goaltender of all time.
Jussi Jokinen did it first, slapping in a beautiful pass by Joni Pitkanen with 1:20 left.
Then, with just over thirty seconds to go in the third period, Eric Staal wristed a bullet over Martin Brodeur to win one of the most exciting series for the Carolina Hurricanes’ franchise.
This was no Miracle on Ice, but Team USA were unquestioningly the underdogs in this game. Canada had far more depth and an entire arena of Canadians roaring them on.
When Corey Perry scored Canada’s second goal in period two, it was hard to imagine Team USA coming back in the game, especially without sacrificing another goal or two in the process.
However, Ryan Kesler scored midway through the second to bring the US to one, which set up the stage for Zach Parise’s iconic, last-minute goal.
The momentum wasn’t sustained, however, and Team Canada would go on to win the Gold in overtime.
In a game where Canada just couldn’t hold a lead, it almost seemed unjust when Russia scored with 2:20 left in regulation to take their first lead of the game.
All of that was overshadowed, however, when Jordan Eberle smoothly backhanded the puck into the net to tie the game for Team Canada.
The Canadians would go on to win the game in a shootout, and would eventually win the gold medal that year.
If you’re unfamiliar with the details of this series, I’ll fill you in briefly.
The Oilers were a powerhouse of a team. Led by Hall-of-Famers Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, and Grant Fuhr, they led the entire NHL with 417 goals in the regular season and finished second overall with 111 points.
The Kings, on the other hand, struggled all season long. They had a minus-55 goal differential and the worst record of any team headed into the playoffs. The series figured to be easy-pickings for the Oilers.
However, the Kings matched wits well with Edmonton, sacrificing their defensive game in favor of a more aggressive, attacking style. It worked out well and the Kings and Oilers split the first two games of the series.
In game three, Gretzky and the Oilers manhandled the Kings, put on a clinic, and ended up with a very comforting 5-0 lead. The resilient Kings, however, began chipping away little by little until this very fateful moment, when rookie Steve Bozek tied the game with five seconds left.
The Kings would go on to win the game in overtime and the series in game five.