The 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs undoubtedly will go down as one of the most exciting, drama-filled postseasons in recent memory.
The big names, big games, and fantastic storylines that came out of every single series were a treat to watch. From the first drop of the puck to Sidney Crosby lifting the Cup in victory, the fans were certainly given their money's worth.
And then some.
Here now is a look back at the most memorable, the most exciting, and the most jaw-dropping moments from the playoffs this season, good and bad.
We can only hope that in the future we can witness such incredible play during the journey towards the hardest trophy in sports to win.
After sending the game to overtime with a goal with five minutes to go in Game One against the Calgary Flames, Martin Havlat had some more magic once the extra period began.
But if you weren't there for the puck drop in the fourth period, you probably missed it.
The Flames won the faceoff and kicked it back to Jordan Leopold, who went to make a long cross-ice pass, but it was knocked down by Dave Bolland, who kicked it over to Havlat.
Havlat quickly skated over the blue line, and with Andrew Ladd screening in front, he got into the slot and fired a rocket past Miikka Kiprusoff, who never saw a thing, just 12 seconds into overtime.
It was the third-fastest overtime goal in playoff history, and it sent the already excited Chicago crowd into a frenzy.
Not a bad way to win the first game of the playoffs.
Down 4-1 in the game, and moments from being swept in the first round by the Boston Bruins, Carey Price had finally had enough from the fans in Montreal.
They constantly booed him, and the rest of the team, as well as sarcastically cheering when Price made an easy save.
After sliding the puck aside and hearing yet another jeer from the fans, Price raised his arms up in the air, a la Patrick Roy during his final game with the Canadiens.
The salute could have been a sign of surrender to the fans, but more than likely he was just giving the sarcasm right back to the fans, who seemingly had seen enough of their team's poor play.
Whatever his intentions were by raising the arms, he sparked a lot of talk in Montreal about whether he really was the right goalie for the team going into the future.
You can hardly put the blame for the series sweep on Price's shoulders alone, but it may have been the final straw in what looks to be many changes in Montreal.
The salute, just as it did for Roy, will most likely live with Price for the rest of his career, whether he stays with the Canadiens or not.
After benching Sean Avery for Game Five of their first round matchup against the Washington Capitals after taking stupid penalties, the coach of the New York Rangers, John Tortorella, decided to take stupid to a whole new level.
After the Washington fans behind the visitor's bench had slammed the glass and hurled insults at the Rangers and their coach, and finally poured a beer on him, Tortorella snapped. His team was already down 4-0 in the game, so he decided to turn around and spray the fans with a water bottle through the glass.
Then he threw the bottle into the crowd, hitting a woman.
The attention of the game suddenly turned to the bench, where security and the refs quickly calmed the situation by removing the fans who caused the incident.
The lasting image from this meltdown will be Tortorella wielding a player's stick towards the fans while being held back by a number of members of his team on the bench.
Needless to say, the man lost his temper, but it sure gave us fans and the media something to talk about—and laugh about too.
It had the feeling of an NBA playoff game.
The clock ticking down, too fast for one team, not fast enough for the other, fans standing holding their breath, just waiting for something sensational to happen.
Well, sensational is an understatement.
With less than two seconds left in the game, Dennis Seidenberg took a shot from the point that tipped off the stick of Jussi Jokinen and past New Jersey Devils' goalie Martin Brodeur and into the net.
0.2 seconds left on the clock.
Jokinen went nuts, as did the Carolina bench as the goal was confirmed good. Canes win, 4-3.
The game gave us a second memorable moment from Brodeur, who felt he was interfered with on the play and left the ice in a fowl mood, slamming his stick repeatedly against the boards before storming off the ice.
A not so classy ending, but certainly a classic one.
It is no secret that Alexander Ovechkin is the most lethal offensive player in the NHL, but the goal that he scored in Game Five against the New York Rangers had everyone at a loss for words.
And a few lost jocks as well.
Ovie took the puck and danced around Chris Drury, then tiptoed down the blue line before slipping the puck through Derek Morris' legs and sneaking around the big defender, sending Morris the wrong way, while Ovechkin was sent in all alone.
He kicked the puck from in his feet up to his stick and slipped the puck in past Henrik Lundqvist on the backhand while falling to the ice.
Alex called it a lucky bounce.
But the only one lucky on that play was Glen Sather, GM of the Rangers—lucky that his goalie didn't get up and quit right then and there.
Ovechkin certainly embarrassed the Rangers on that play.
But we're sort of getting used to that.
Up 3-2 with less than two minutes to go in regulation of Game Seven, the New Jersey Devils seemingly had things completely under control.
Or so they thought.
Jussi Jokinen tied the game with 1:20 left, and then things really got exciting. While the Devils' fans sat back in shock as overtime looked to be a certainty, Eric Staal cruised over the blue line with 31.7 seconds to go.
He ripped a wrist shot far side on Brodeur, who missed the puck as it bulged the twine.
Game, set, match.
A 3-2 lead for the Devils turned into a 4-3 lead and eventual win for the Canes with two goals in less than a minute.
It was only the first round, but after everything is said and done, it might be the most insane ending of the entire playoffs.
Whatever it was, it will be remembered for a long time.
Especially in New Jersey.
Game One of the Pittsburgh-Washington dream matchup gave us the best save of the playoffs.
Sidney Crosby brought the puck in over the line, dropped it for Chris Kunitz, and then headed straight for the net. Kunitz waited until Crosby was in position and then shot a perfect pass right on the stick.
Sid shot at the wide-open net, but Simeon Varlamov reached back with his stick and just—and I mean just—tipped it wide of the net.
It is the kind of save you dream of when playing net on the street, or in minor hockey, and on Crosby just to make it that much better.
Pierre McGuire said it best when seeing the replay: "It doesn't get any better than that!"
That's for sure!
To say this game got out of hand would be slightly kind, especially if you are Bruins forward Aaron Ward.
The Carolina Hurricanes were down 4-0 late in Game Five in the second round, and apparently Scott Walker wasn't happy about it.
The two players came together and grabbed each other as the play went on around them. Suddenly Walker got a hand free, flipped off his glove, and threw a bone-crunching punch to the chin of Ward, dropping the Bruin to the ice in a heap.
Needless to say, Walker was given an instigator penalty and kicked out of the game, but the NHL ruled that his punch did not warrant a suspension.
Many disagreed with the idea that he could get away with such a punch and felt that at least a one-game suspension should be handed out, but to no avail.
And as we soon found out, Bruins fans should have hoped for a two-game suspension, because Walker certainly played a big part in Game Seven of this series...
After punching Aaron Ward in the face in Game Five, Scott Walker was not liked in the city of Boston already, but by the time Game Seven was over, he might never be able to go back again.
With 1:14 left in the first overtime at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Ray Whitney fired a shot at goaltender Tim Thomas, who stopped it but let out a juicy rebound.
Just behind the play was the beloved Walker, who whacked at the bouncing puck and roofed it, top shelf, over Thomas, to send the Hurricanes to the third round and the Boston Bruins home.
In what was an extremely ironic finish to the series, after Walker was the so-called "knockout punch" in Game Five, he turned out give the actual knockout punch in overtime of the final game of the series.
See you in Boston next year, Scott.
The matchup alone was worth watching, and it was one of the most hyped-up series ever before things got underway between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals.
Game Two solidified it as one of the best series there has ever been.
Two superstars, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, in the same game battling head to head. The hope of all fans was that these two players would feed off each other and turn out an incredible performance every game.
This game did not disappoint.
It ended 4-3. Crosby and Ovechkin combined for six of those seven goals.
Each with a hat trick. Each leaving fans counting down the seconds until the next game started.
Each player’s hat trick goal was a highlight worth seeing twice. Ovechkin skated in over the blue line, as he so often does, and ripped a wicked wrist shot through the legs of the defender, sniping it top corner over Marc-Andre Fleury.
Crosby, down 4-2 in the third with mere minutes to go, was standing off to the side of the net when the puck bounced out to him. He whacked once, twice, and on the third attempt he slapped the puck out of mid-air, off the back of Simeon Varlamov's head, and into the net.
Both goals extremely precise, and a little lucky too.
Game Two, round two, beauty.
Game Six between the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks was definitely memorable, especially the third period.
After a defensively challenged first two periods, the third set the stage for a great finish as the two teams were locked in a 3-3 tie.
The next 13 minutes or so felt as if they were playing with no goalies at all. Between the 3:43 and 16:17 marks in the third period, the two teams combined for six goals: Mats Sundin and Daniel Sedin for the Canucks, and Adam Burish, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane with two for the Blackhawks.
The game ended 7-5, as did the series 4-2 for the Hawks. It was the type of game that fans love and coaches dread. Kane finished the game with his first career hat trick, his third the most breathtaking goal of his young career.
He broke in one-on-one with the defender, and at the top of the circle he flipped the puck to his backhand and ripped it top shelf on Roberto Luongo. The sellout crowd of 22,000 plus in Chicago erupted, and so they should have.
The goal was not only brilliant, but it was also the dagger in the series, and it sent the Hawks to the Conference Finals against those mighty Red Wings.
Not too bad for your first time in the playoffs.
A Sunday afternoon game in the playoffs can be tiring enough playing just three periods. You have to wake up earlier, skate earlier, and everything else you normally do on game day, you do earlier.
But the Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks took the Sunday afternoon game and turned it into a night game, with three overtime periods to decide Game Two.
Now it was not the most exciting game we've ever seen; in fact, at some points in the second OT it was downright boring. But the point is, there is nothing much like extra overtime periods, when at any moment anyone can become the hero.
Todd Marchant just happened to be that guy.
With 1:15 left in the third overtime, Marchant grabbed the puck in front of the net and tucked it in past a sprawling Chris Osgood to tie the series at a game apiece.
It was one of the few multiple-overtime games fans were able to watch that didn't end past their bedtime, and when it was all said and done, it sure was fun to watch.
It was the longest game in the 2009 Playoffs, almost a full three overtimes. The series eventually went seven games, but technically, they played eight.
There weren’t many moments in the Eastern Conference Finals between the Penguins and Hurricanes that were close. This moment solidified the series as all Pittsburgh, when Evgeni Malkin proved that when he plays at the top of his game, not even a whole team can stop him.
In the third period of Game Two, tied 3-3 with about eight minutes to go, Malkin lined up at the face-off dot in the Hurricanes end and had an idea.
The puck was dropped, and he chipped it through the legs of his opponent to the corner. He was the first one to reach the puck and quickly skated around the back of the net, swooping around the other side.
With the defender and goalie Cam Ward, thinking wraparound, Malkin slammed on the brakes, and with a no-look backhand, roofed it over the shoulder of Ward.
It was a stunning goal—one of the rare goals that a player scores where he actually doesn't use, or need, another member of his team to pull it off.
He won the face-off, grabbed the puck, walked around the net, and put it in.
And for all intents and purposes, series over.
They call that goal "The Geno." Let's hope it's not the last time we see it.
The first game back in Chicago of the Western Conference Finals, Game Three of the series, certainly had its fair share of action.
Almost 14 minutes into the game, Martin Havlat turned to skate out of his own zone as the pass was coming through his legs along the boards. Just as he turned his head to grab the puck and go, the Wings' often-hitter Nik Kronwall absolutely ran him over.
It was a controversial hit in that Havlat never actually touched the puck, even though it seemed like he had control as it was in his feet. Kronwall didn't jump, and there was no elbow, and no eventual punishment was handed down to him after the game.
He did receive a game misconduct for the hit, but that was more than likely just so the ref could avoid later retaliation on the defender for knocking the Hawks' sniper out of the game.
It was undoubtedly in the top three as far as biggest hits of the playoffs go, and it did the most damage—Havlat reportedly suffered a concussion—as he was out cold on the ice momentarily.
The hit set the tone for the game, and Chicago got redemption as Patrick Sharp won it in overtime, their one and only win of the series, though it was memorable.
Too bad Havlat probably doesn't recall a single moment of it.
Darren Helm has played 23 games in the regular season in his career, but the way he played in this year's postseason, you'd think he was a grizzled playoff veteran.
He played in 23 playoff games this season, scoring four goals, but none was more important than his game and series winner against Chicago.
The game was tied 1-1, and it was a fiercely contested battle until 3:58 of that extra frame, when Helm found himself in the right place at the right time.
Standing beside the Hawks' net during a scramble, the puck squeaked out to him, and all he had to do was tap it in.
Series over. Wings win.
The goal blasted the Red Wings right back into the Stanley Cup Finals against the long-time-no-see Pittsburgh Penguins, who were already waiting for them.
It was a massive goal in Darren Helm's career, a career that has yet to see him even score in the regular season.
After the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals, it looked all but over after the Red Wings took control and won both games at home, but the tide turned once things headed back to Pittsburgh for the next two.
The Penguins won Game Three and came into Game Four looking to tie the series 2-2.
The game was tied 2-2 late in the second period before superstars Crosby and Malkin broke in on a two-on-one. Malkin slid the puck over to Crosby after the pass was blocked on the first attempt, and Sid slapped it into the open net.
It was the game-winner, and it essentially saved the Penguins season. If they hadn't won Game Four, and with the poor effort in the next game they gave—losing 5-0—it would all be over once again for the Penguins.
That goal, and the game, made sure that they still had a chance to win the series—and the Cup.
Sweet, sweet redemption.
After losing the Cup to the Red Wings last year on their own ice, they did the same to Detroit this season, on the road in Game Seven, to become Stanley Cup Champions.
A hobbled Sidney Crosby, numbed by the sheer excitement, skated over to Gary Bettman and was handed the Stanley Cup.
The smile on his face, and the face of everyone on the team, left no need for words to describe the moment.
They were champions—what more do you need to describe that?
And as Mario Lemieux hoisted the Cup for the third time in his career, he looked right at the new captain, Crosby, motioned him to come over, and handed it right back. He not only gave him the Cup that night, but essentially, Mario handed Sid the legacy—his own legacy that he's only just begun.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are officially Crosby's team now. Whether that was official before or not, he proved that he could lead a team, as the youngest captain ever, to a championship.
It's the No. 1 moment of any playoffs when the captain of the winning team hoists that Cup above his head for the first time.
But this year, it felt a little more special.
Maybe because we just witnessed the end of one dynasty, while only the beginning of another.
What a year.