NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011: The 10 Best Playoff Games of All Time
The NHL playoffs provide some of the best drama in sports, and this year has been no exception. Playoff hockey is so intense that no team can take a shift off.
All the hard work players put in through the playoffs is rewarded when the last team standing lifts the Stanley Cup, the best trophy in all of sports.
In hockey no team gives up hope, no matter how far down in a series a team may be. Hockey is the only sport that has seen multiple teams win a playoff series after being down 0-3.
It has happened once in baseball, never in basketball. The Philadelphia Flyers were the most recent team to accomplish this feat, erasing an 0-3 deficit against the Boston Bruins during the 2010 Eastern semifinals.
Now let's look at the 10 best NHL playoff games of all time.
Nicholas Goss is a Boston Bruins Featured Columnist, follow him on Twitter for Bruins playoff coverage.
10) 1987 Patrick Division Semifinals, Game 7: Islanders vs. Capitals
Known as the "Easter Epic," this great Game 7 lasted four overtimes, with the New York Islanders defeating the Washington Capitals 3-2.
Pat LaFontaine scored the winning goal for New York with a slap shot in the fourth overtime.
At the time, this game was the fifth-longest NHL match ever, with almost 70 minutes dedicated to just overtime in Game 7.
The Capitals never trailed in the game until LaFontaine's winner sent them home for the summer.
9) 1986 Campbell Conference Finals, Game 6: Blues vs. Flames
The St. Louis Blues were facing a three-goal deficit in the third period during Game 6 of the 1986 Campbell Conference Finals against the Calgary Flames, but they never quit and rallied to force overtime.
The Blues' Doug Wickenheiser beat Flames goaltender Mike Vernon about eight minutes into overtime to complete the thrilling comeback.
However, the Blues would lose the series in Game 7 by the score of 2-1.
8) 1993 Campbell Conference Finals, Game 7: Maple Leafs vs. Kings
One of Wayne Gretzky's finest performances came in Game 7 of the 1993 Campbell Conference Finals versus the Toronto Maple Leafs.
His Kings were on the road in Toronto for the series finale, and jumped out to a two-goal lead. But Toronto would tie the game 2-2, and again at 3-3 after Gretzky put the Kings up 3-2.
Gretzky scored three goals in the game, one in each period, and his final score would end up being the winning goal that put the Kings into the Stanley Cup Finals against the Montreal Canadiens.
7) 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Game 2: Penguins vs. Capitals
In an epic seven-game series, the two faces of the NHL, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, put in memorable performances in Game 2.
Each star scored a hat trick, but Washington's David Steckel would get the winner for the Capitals to edge Crosby and the Penguins 4-3.
The Penguins would win the series 4-3 with a 6-2 rout in Game 7.
6) 1970 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4: Bruins vs. Blues
Boston Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr finished Game 4 of the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals with one of the most iconic images in NHL history.
After scoring the series-winning goal in overtime, Orr leaped into the air in celebration, and was then mobbed by joyous teammates.
The Bruins have not won a Stanley Cup since the Bobby Orr era, as their last Cup title came in 1972.
5) 1996 Western Conference Semifinals, Game 7: Red Wings vs. Blues
Steve Yzerman's amazing game winner from the blue line gave the Detroit Red Wings a berth in the 1996 Western Conference Finals, defeating the St. Louis Blues in seven games.
Wayne Gretzky lost the puck in the neutral zone, and Yzerman picked it up and eliminated the Blues in overtime with a pulsating slap shot.
4) 1950 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 7: Red Wings vs. Rangers
Hockey legend Gordie How (pictured) helped the Detroit Red Wings overcome the New York Rangers to win the 1950 Stanley Cup.
Detroit won Game 7 in double overtime by the score of 4-3 for the franchise's fourth Stanley Cup title.
After the game, Detroit started a tradition still followed today. The Red Wings took the Cup and skated it around the ice, passing it to each player to carry for the fans and themselves to enjoy.
3) 2000 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 7: Avalanche vs. Devils
This game is remembered for its postgame events, but the actual game was amazing.
Led by captain Joe Sakic, the Colorado Avalanche defeated the defending Cup champions New Jersey Devils 2-1 to win the franchise's second Stanley Cup title.
Defenseman Raymond Bourque was finally able to lift the Cup as a champion after two decades of falling short with the Boston Bruins.
Many hockey fans consider Bourque's lifting of the Cup as the greatest moment in hockey history, and even non-Avalanche fans tear up when they watch the highlights.
2) 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 6: Rangers vs. Devils
A terrible loss in Game 5 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals left the New York Rangers trailing 3-2 against the New Jersey Devils.
Talking to the press before Game 6, captain Mark Messier boldly guaranteed the Rangers would win Game 6 on the road.
Messier backed up his claim by scoring a hat trick in Game 6 to send the series to a deciding seventh game.
The guarantee and performance by Messier made him a New York sports icon.
1) 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 7: Rangers vs. Devils
The Rangers defeated the New Jersey Devils in Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals on a Stephane Matteau goal in double overtime.
Matteau was not known for his scoring, and was acquired at the trading deadline that season, but his goal put the Rangers into the Cup Finals where they would beat the Canucks in seven games, and end their 54-year title drought.
It was the second time Matteau beat the Devils in double overtime in the series; he beat Devils goalie Martin Brodeur in Game 3 of the series in double OT.
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