Ranking the 10 Most Memorable Moments from the 2013 NHL Playoffs
The NHL playoffs have treated hockey fans to an action-packed six weeks' worth of highlights. From colossal comebacks to inspiring performances, this postseason has provided thrills throughout.
A triple-overtime Stanley Cup opener ensured that all 15 playoff series lasted beyond regulation. Drama has unfolded in different cities across Canada and the U.S., setting the stage for an epic conclusion in the title round.
Here's a look at the top 10 memorable moments we've witnessed so far, considering ultimate impact and entertainment value. Of course, we value clutchness over all.
10. Raffi Torres Draws Series Suspension with Hit on Jarret Stoll
Torres isn't making any friends in the NHL community with his continued penchant for reckless and dangerous play. His latest brush with controversy prematurely ended the veteran's season.
During Game 1 of a Western Conference Semifinal clash with the Kings, he skated across the ice and launched at an unsuspecting Jarret Stoll. Immediate fears about head injuries entered the minds of viewers, providing another lowlight for Torres.
Neither Stoll nor Torres suited up again in the series. The San Jose intimidator was suspended, while Stoll dealt with physical repercussions of the hit.
9. Ottawa Clobbers Canadiens to Close out National Rivalry Series
The Senators surged past second-seeded Montreal in the opening round of Eastern Conference action. Ottawa dismantled the national rival in stunning fashion, swiftly taking care of business in five games.
Canadiens fans could only watch in dismay as the Senators prevailed 6-1 in the decisive contest. The Senators celebrated on Montreal's home ice and showed signs of a team on the rise.
8. Sharks Sweep Away Canucks in Overtime
Just two years removed from a run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, Vancouver didn't stand a chance in its first-round matchup against San Jose. The Canucks dropped a pair of games on home ice before falling twice in California.
Third-seeded Vancouver bowed out without much of a whimper, suffering an embarrassing sweep that ultimately cost coach Alain Vigneault his job. Sharks veteran Patrick Marleau punctuated the series with a game-winning goal in overtime of Game 4, sending the Canucks packing without a single playoff victory.
7. Sidney Crosby Returns in Style
The Penguins superstar missed the final 12 games of the regular season after suffering a fractured jaw. The injury ultimately caused him to miss Game 1 of Pittsburgh's first-round series versus the Islanders.
When the team announced Crosby would suit up for Game 2, many wondered if lingering effects of the injury would limit his effectiveness on the ice. He responded quickly, scoring two first-period goals.
Although the Penguins ultimately lost the matchup, Crosby tallied three assists in a Game 3 win.
6. Henrik Lundqvist Stands Tall as Rangers Eliminate Capitals
Henrik Lundqvist didn't receive much help from his teammates throughout a five-game series loss to Boston in the Eastern Conference Semifinal. New York wouldn't have made it that far if not for another sensational performance by the 2012 Vezina Trophy winner.
He blanked a high-powered Washington Capitals offensive attack in Game 7 of the opening round, leading the charge in a stunningly dominant 5-0 victory. It was the exclamation point at the end of a tremendous series-ending stretch.
Lundqvist led the Rangers to consecutive shutout victories, overcoming a 3-2 series deficit.
5. Jonathan Quick Leads Kings Back to Western Conference Final
Jonathan Quick owned just four playoff victories prior to the 2012 postseason. The Kings netminder has tallied 25 wins in the past two playoff runs, earning a Conn Smythe Trophy, a Stanley Cup and stardom in the process.
He stepped up yet again against San Jose in a back-and-forth affair during the Western Conference Semifinal round. Quick collected two shutout wins in a seven-game series, capping it off with 25 saves in the decisive Game 7.
Los Angeles failed to return to the NHL mountaintop, but Quick continues to emerge as one of the league's elite goalies.
4. Bruins Prevail in Double Overtime, Take 3-0 Lead over Pittsburgh
The Bruins battered Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference Final. Boston swept the top-seeded Penguins, punching its ticket for a second Stanley Cup championship appearance in three years.
Goalie Tuukka Rask limited Pittsburgh to two goals in the series, stonewalling an intimidating offensive arsenal. Momentum was in the balance in Boston when Game 3 reached the end of regulation knotted at one goal apiece.
Rask stopped 53 shots, keeping the Penguins off the scoreboard in a pair of overtime sessions. Patrice Bergeron played the role of hero again, scoring a game-winner at 15:19 of the second overtime.
The Bruins took a 3-0 series lead and dashed Pittsburgh's hopes for a series comeback.
3. Chicago Wins Third Straight Game to Defeat Detroit
The upstart Red Wings had Chicago on the ropes in a highly contentious Western Conference Semifinal series. Detroit led 3-1 when action shifted back to the Windy City for Game 5.
The Blackhawks battled back, picking up a pair of wins to even the series. Chicago denied Detroit an opportunity to wrap up the series on home ice in Game 6 and prevailed in a remarkably entertaining Game 7.
Brent Seabrook scorched a wrist shot past Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard less than four minutes into overtime, propelling Chicago to a 2-1 victory and its second Stanley Cup Final since 2010.
2. Patrice Bergeron Completes Boston's Game 7 Comeback
Before Boston reached another Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins battled back from the brink of elimination against upstart Toronto in the opening round. Boston trailed the visiting Maple Leafs 4-1 with slightly more than 10 minutes left in the third period.
Seemingly on the verge of blowing a 3-1 series advantage, Boston rallied. Nathan Horton scored to make it 4-2 midway through the final frame.
In front of a disheartened home crowd, the Bruins turned the tide when Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron scored seconds apart to tie the game 3-3 with 51 seconds remaining in regulation. Bergeron again came through in the clutch with a game-winning goal in overtime when he fired a shot past Toronto goalie James Reimer.
1. Stanley Cup Final Starts with Three-Overtime Thriller
If Game 1 is any indication, we're in for one heck of a Stanley Cup Final. Boston and Chicago required one hour, 52 minutes and 14 seconds of game action to decide the opening contest of this championship clash.
The fifth-longest game in NHL finals history ended in the wee hours of the morning on the East Coast and captivated a national audience. Goalies Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford exchanged monumental saves through three overtime sessions until a redirection brought an end to the classic battle.
Andrew Shaw caught a piece of teammate Dave Bolland's shot, beating Rask and bringing a fatigued crowd to its feet in raucous celebration.