NHL: Biggest Goal in All 30 NHL Franchises' History
All NHL fans have had that moment with their favorite team. That moment when you could not be happier for your team, and you count your blessings that you root for whatever team you root for. It's a great feeling.
But it's safe to say that some goals are much bigger than others. Some goals make us jump out of our seat and make us go "wow," while others relieve the stress of a multiple overtime game and make us scream uncontrollably. All of this comes with the territory of being an NHL fan.
Whether it's the goal that wins the Stanley Cup or puts a franchise on the map, we can all connect with one goal of our favorite franchise. One goal always puts a smile on our faces. As a Rangers fan, I can't watch Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup and not smile. I hope every fan has that moment for his or her favorite team.
So here are my thoughts on each franchise's most important goal.
Anahaim Ducks: Scott Niedermayer, Western Conference Finals Game 5, May 20, 2007
With the series tied at two games apiece, Game 5 of the 2007 Western Conference Finals went to overtime. Before that, the Ducks were down by a goal on the road against Detroit when they went on the power play. Pavel Datsyuk was called for an interference penalty, and J.S. Giguere was pulled for a 6-on-4 advantage.
Scott Niedermayer shot from the left circle, and Nick Lidstrom deflected the puck upwards and past the glove of Dominik Hasek to tie the game with 47.3 seconds to go.
Teemu Selanne scored at 11:57 of overtime to win the game and send the Ducks back to Anaheim with a 3-2 series lead. They would ultimately win that game and beat the Ottawa Senators in five games to claim their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Boston Bruins: Bobby Orr, Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4, May 10, 1970
I'm not going to get caught up in the 2011 Bruins Stanley Cup fever and call a goal from this year the most important. Nathan Horton's goal in overtime of Game 7 against Montreal comes to mind as well as Patrice Bergeron's goal to open the scoring in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup in Vancouver.
I'm going with the classic. Bobby Orr goes flying through the air in overtime of Game 4 of the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals to complete the sweep of the St. Louis Blues. This goal is immortalized outside of the TD Garden in Boston with a statue.
There's not much more I can say, the video shows everything.
Buffalo Sabres: Brad May, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game 4, April 1993
The one and the only, "May Day."
Brad May put the Sabres into the second round of the playoffs by netting the series-clinching goal against Andy Moog to give the Sabres their first playoff series win in a decade.
May put on the razzle dazzle as he beat Moog and completed the sweep of the Bruins. They would go on to lose to the Canadiens in four games in the second round.
The call for this goal is great.
I also considered Chris Drury's goal in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinal with seven seconds left against the Rangers and Danny Gare's goal in Game 1 of the 1975 semifinal series with Montreal.
Calgary Flames: Doug Gilmour, Stanley Cup Finals, Game 6, May 25, 1989
The video above was the penalty that set up Doug Gilmour's power play goal in Game 6 of the 1989 Stanley Cup Finals, which the Flames won 4-2.
Gilmour banged in his own rebound at 11:02 of the third period to give the Flames a 3-1 lead. Although the Canadiens responded within the minute to make the score 3-2, this goal would prove to be the series-winning goal. The Flames secured their first and only Stanley Cup in franchise history on this night.
Gilmour netted an empty net goal with just over a minute to play to seal the Canadiens' fate.
The Flames were the only team to win the Stanley Cup as a visitor in the Montreal Forum. The Montreal faithful were respectful during the ceremony and gave the Flames a standing ovation.
Carolina Hurricanes: Frantisek Kaberle, Stanley Cup Finals, Game 7, June 2006
NOTE: Skip to 4:13 for Frantisek Kaberle's goal.
The Hurricanes defeated Edmonton to win the Stanley Cup at home 3-1, with the second goal by Kaberle giving the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead. The Hurricanes were made up of a number of players over 30 who won the Stanley Cup for the first time, including Doug Weight, Bret Hedican and Rod Brind'Amour.
Kaberle had an open point shot that hit off an Oilers' jersey on the way toward the net, causing it to change direction. Kaberle was a low-scoring defenseman who was an unlikely hero. Ironically, his brother just won the Stanley Cup in Boston and will be playing in Carolina next season. Cam Ward was the Cinderella of that postseason, and 'Canes fans hope he's saved some magic for the future.
Carolina has a very underrated fan base and winning the Stanley Cup finally brought them to the forefront.
Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Kane, Stanley Cup Finals, Game 6, June 9, 2010
This infamous goal ended the 49-year Stanley Cup drought for the Chicago Blackhawks, as Patrick Kane ended Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup with a sharp angle shot that got past Michael Leighton to end the game and the series.
The Blackhawks were a great story for the NHL. They had terrible attendance numbers in the early decades and slowly got better to become the champions of the NHL. Having fans interested in the city of Chicago is good for the league.
Kane was an American Hero in the Olympics, and to people who don't hate the Blackhawks, he was a hero by netting the winning goal in the Stanley Cup.
I just wish there could have been good announcing rather than the announcers being befuddled by the unclear outcome.
The only question remaining is: "Where is the puck?"
Colorado Avalanche: Uwe Krupp, Stanley Cup Final, Game 4, June 10, 1996
How about this for introducing yourself to a community? After moving from Quebec, the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in their first season in Colorado. Talk about a first impression.
With the game in triple overtime, Uwe Krupp blasted the puck from the blue line to score the series-clinching goal, giving Colorado the sweep over the Panthers.
The Panthers put up a fight, but Colorado closed out the season on the road to pick up their first Stanley Cup.
Krupp played in six regular season games after an injury but rebounded in the playoffs.
I had some advice to pick Adam Foote's first-period goal in Game 6 of the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals to give the Avalanche the lead on the road, but a Stanley Cup-winning goal in a franchise's first season in a city seems pretty important to me.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Rick Nash, January 17, 2008
One of the most incredible goals you will ever see. Every time I watch this goal, I am as amazed as I was the first time I saw it.
One thing that doesn't get enough attention is how much time was left. There were 30 seconds left in the game, and Rick Nash had the guts to try that move. He got by two defenseman and a goalie and still had the presence of mind to wait out the goalie and calmly put the puck in the net.
Unfortunately for Blue Jackets fans, this goal did not take place in a more important game. Having made the playoffs once in franchise history and being swept means there wasn't a lot of choices for this article.
Stay hopeful, Blue Jackets fans. Your day is coming.
Dallas Stars: Brett Hull, Stanley Cup Finals, Game 6, June 19, 1999
Yes, his skate was in the crease, but it still counted.
The Stars won their first and only Stanley Cup on this goal by the great Brett Hull. Hull frantically tried to put the puck past Dominik Hasek, finally poking it through Hasek's pads. Mike Modano put the first shot on net, and Hull banged in the rebound.
The Stars are another team that has had great support over the years. With their ownership troubles now, attendance has dipped, but this is still a successful franchise whose ownership situation hopefully works out.
The Sabres are still looking for their first Stanley Cup.
Detroit Red Wings: Darren McCarty, Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4, June 7, 1997
Surprisingly enough for people of my generation, the Detroit Red Wings did not win a Stanley Cup from 1955 to 1997. Darren McCarty ended that drought with this goal, giving the Red Wings a 2-0 lead over the Flyers in that game.
The Red Wings would win the game 2-1—and the series 4-0—to sweep the Flyers. McCarty took a pass out of his own zone and beat two Flyers on his way to the net. There he deked Ron Hextall and easily put the puck in the net to send Detroit into a frenzy.
It could be argued that this goal started the Detroit dominance of the NHL, as it was the first of the two back-to-back Stanley Cups the Red Wings would win. They have not missed the playoffs since.
Edmonton Oilers: Wayne Gretzky, October 14, 1979
The Great One led the Oilers to arguably the greatest dynasty of all time. With Grant Fuhr, Mark Messier, Kevin Lowe and Paul Coffey, Gretzky put Edmonton on the map. He won four Stanley Cups with the Oilers.
As the video says, every star needs to start somewhere. I'm sure the people of Edmonton are really happy it happened in Edmonton.
Gretzky finished a pretty passing play for his first NHL goal.
Wayne Gretzky finished his career with 2,857 regular season NHL points, which is the most ever. He scored 894 regular season goals and another 122 in the playoffs.
Florida Panthers: Tom Fitzgerald, Eastern Conference Final, Game 7, June 1, 1996
The Florida Panthers have had a rough time making the playoffs in the last decade. There was a time, though, where they made the Stanley Cup.
In 1996, the Panthers defeated the Bruins and Flyers for the right to play Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Petr Nedved and the rest of the Penguins for the chance to get to the Stanley Cup. After falling behind 3-2 in the series, they won Game 6 and went back to Pittsburgh for a Game 7.
Tom Fitzgerald scored in the third period on a long shot to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead, a goal that won the Eastern Conference and pitted them against Colorado in the Stanley Cup Finals, where the Panthers got swept.
Los Angeles Kings: Wayne Gretzky, Western Conference Final, Game 6, May 27, 1993
The Great One does it again. The video says it all.
In Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, with the Kings down 3-2 in the series, Wayne Gretzky gets away with a high-stick call against Doug Gilmour. He then puts the puck in the net to send the series back to Los Angeles.
The Kings would win that Game 7 and move on to face the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup. They would lose in five games.
There is no doubt that Gretzky played a huge part in hockey in Los Angeles, and one of his goals had to be on here as the most important in franchise history.
Minnesota Wild: Andrew Brunette, W. Conference Quarterfinals, Game 7, April 2003
The Minnesota Wild were down 3-1 in the series against the heavily favored Colorado Avalanche. Before the series, some Wild players said they would be happy to win one game in the playoffs. After Game 4, Jacques Martin pronounced his team dead. They surprised themselves.
Andrew Brunette took a pass at the blue line at full speed, beat an Avalanche defender, deked Patrick Roy and scored to end the Avalanche's season.
The Wild battled back to force a Game 7 in Colorado and sent the game to overtime. Brunette scored 3:25 into overtime to send the Wild to the second round of the playoffs. It was the franchise's first playoff series win.
The Wild would beat the Canucks in the next round and lose to the Ducks in the Western Conference Finals.
Montreal Canadien: Maurice Richard, Stanley Cup Final, Game 2, April 6, 1944
Note: The goals are not in this video. It is a clip from the first round of that year's playoffs against the Maple Leafs.
In Game 2 of the 1944 Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens, a kid named Maurice Richard scored a hat trick. The Canadiens relied on him for all of their scoring as they won 3-1. They would go on to sweep the Blackhawks and win the Stanley Cup.
Richard is arguably the greatest Canadien to ever play for the team. He won eight Stanley Cups in his career and was the first player to have 50 goals in 50 games.
Richard scored his last Stanley Cup goal in 1960—his last season, when he won his eighth Stanley Cup.
Nashville Predators: Shea Weber, W. Conference Quarterfinals, Game 5, April 2011
"The Nashville Predators are a dangerous team."
It seems hockey pundits like to say that every year. Despite this notion, the Predators didn't win a playoff series until this year.
The Predators were in a tied series with the Anaheim Ducks going into Game 5 in Anaheim. With Anaheim in front 3-2, the Predators had an empty net and a defenseman with a nasty shot. The puck got to Shea Weber, who let go a wrist shot that found its way into the net to tie the game.
The heroics from Weber led Jerrod Smithson to win the game in overtime, sending the Predators back to Nashville with a 3-2 series lead. They would close out the series in Game 6 but ultimately lose to the Canucks in the next round.
New Jersey Devils: Jason Arnott, Stanley Cup Finals, Game 6, June 10, 2000
The New Jersey Devils won the 2000 Stanley Cup on a goal by Jason Arnott in the second overtime at 8:20 of the period.
Patrik Elias played the puck in the corner after it was kept in by Scott Stevens at the point. Elias made a terrific pass across the ice to find an open Arnott, who buried the puck past Ed Belfour to clinch the series for the Devils 4-2.
The Devils won the Cup with replacement head coach, Larry Robinson.
It was the Devils first Stanley Cup since 1995.
The Devils prevented the Stars from winning the Stanley Cup in back-to-back years.
New York Islanders: JP Parise, Preliminary Round, Game 3, April 11, 1975
The Islanders were just three years old when they were put up against the Rangers in the Preliminary Round of the playoffs in 1975. After splitting the first two games of the series, the third and decisive game of that series went into overtime at Madison Square Garden.
Eleven seconds into overtime, J.P. Parise (Zach's father) scored and gave the Islanders the victory over their rivals. This goal really put the Islanders on the map in New York and gave birth to the franchise. Little did the fans know what they were in for in the next 10 years with the dynasty that ensued.
At that point, Parise's goal was the quickest ever scored in overtime. This was also the Islanders' first playoff berth. They made it all the way to the semifinal, where they lost to the eventual champion Philadelphia Flyers.
The Islanders, of course, went on to win four Stanley Cups in a row in the early 1980s.
New York Rangers: Stephane Matteau, Eastern Conference Finals, Game 7, May 1994
Where to begin?
The Rangers won the Presidents' Trophy in 1994 and were Stanley Cup favorites. After easily eliminating the Capitals and Islanders, the Rangers found themselves in a classic series with the Devils. In Game 6, with the Rangers down 3-2 in the series, Mark Messier made his famous guarantee and led the Rangers to victory with a hat trick.
In Game 7, the Rangers were seven seconds away from the Stanley Cup, when Valeri Zelepukin scored to tie the game at one.
In double overtime, Stephane Matteau, a trade deadline acquisition from Chicago, left his name in MSG lore as he "swoops in to intercept" and "swings it in front," and most importantly, "he scores."
The Rangers went on to win the Stanley Cup in seven games over the Canucks in the next series—their first since 1940. It has definitely lasted a lifetime.
For the Rangers fans who wanted to know my other considerations: Messier's empty netter in Game 6 or his winner in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup, but I think I made the right decision.
PS I watched the video like five times during this slide.
Ottawa Senators- Alexei Yashin, E. Conference Quarterfinals, Game 3, April 1998
Note: Skip to 20 seconds to view Yashin's goal.
The Ottawa Senators finished the 1997-98 season with 83 points. The Devils finished with 107. But the Senators were the ones who were victorious in Game 1 in New Jersey in overtime on a goal by Bruce Gardiner.
The Senators came back to Ottawa with a tied series. Game 3 got sent to overtime, when Alexei Yashin ended the game with a snipe that got past Martin Brodeur and gave Ottawa a lead in the series.
The Senators won that series in six games, shocking the hockey world. Winning Game 3 allowed Ottawa to take control of that series and gave fans the belief they could pull off the upset.
Philadelphia Flyers: Rick MacLeish, Stanley Cup Finals, Game 6, May 19, 1974
The Broad Street Bullies won their first of two Stanley Cups in 1974. Rick MacLeish scored the only goal of Game 6 of the 1974 Final to give the Flyers the Stanley Cup. The goal was scored on the power play at 14:48 of the 1st period.
The Flyers won the faceoff, and Andre Dupont let the puck fly from the point. The puck was deflected by MacLeish on its way through and somehow found its way through the pads of Gilles Gilbert.
This would be the only goal of the game, as the Flyers defeated the Bruins and Bobby Orr.
Phoenix Coyotes: Derek Morris, W. Conference Quarterfinals, Game 1, 4/14/2010
Note: Go to 6:13 for Morris' goal.
The Phoenix Coyotes ended their long playoff drought in 2010. This was the first time in franchise history the team had eclipsed 100 points, and they were rewarded by playing the Detroit Red Wings in the first round.
Although they lost the series in seven games, the Coyotes made a statement in Game 1 by beating the Red Wings. The decisive goal came from the stick of Derek Morris on the power play at 2:19 of the third period.
Morris received the faceoff win from Matthew Lombardi and wound up blasting the puck past Jimmy Howard and giving the 'Yotes a 3-2 lead—a lead they would hold on to.
In addition, it was nice to see the Phoenix fans into the game and the building sold out. Now, if we could only let them know they play 41 regular season home games, too.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Mario Lemieux, October 11, 1984
Mario Lemieux's first goal came on his first shot on his first shift of his NHL career. That's a story only made for legends. Hate him or love him, Lemieux was special.
His first goal ushered in a new era in Pittsburgh, which led to two Stanley Cups in the early 1990s. With Jaromir Jagr, the Penguins had a short dynasty.
Lemieux is still influential in hockey in Pittsburgh, as he is an owner of the Penguins. He is the best Penguin of all time, but his reign is being challenged by the young Sidney Crosby.
I also could have put Crosby's first goal, but Lemieux really ushered in hockey in Pittsburgh while Crosby just returned the interest. I could have gone either way, but I needed a little help.
San Jose Sharks: Jamie Baker, Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 7, 4/30/94
In what was considered (maybe) the biggest upset in NHL history, the San Jose Sharks beat the Detroit Red Wings, one of the favorites for the Stanley Cup, in the first round. The Sharks were really put on the map as a result of this upset.
After winning Game 5 on the road 6-4, the Sharks came home and got pounded 7-1. The Sharks were not given much of a chance in Game 7, but they proved the critics wrong.
Jamie Baker got the puck at the point after a bad clearing attempt by Chris Osgood. He slapped the puck on net, and it found its way in. This gave the Sharks a lead they would not relinquish.
Unlike the Sharks of the present, these Sharks took advantage of opportunities. This wasn't the choking team we've known in recent times. Hopefully, the Sharks finally pull through one of these years and shed that title.
St. Louis Blues: Ron Schock, Semifinal, Game 7, May 3, 1968
Note: The goal is not in this video. The video is just Stanley Cup footage from 1968, '69 and '70.
The Blues were an expansion team in 1968, when the NHL doubled its number of teams to 12. The Blues took advantage of a weak Western Conference and a rule that said an expansion team had to make the playoffs.
They rode this rule all the way to the Stanley Cup. In the semifinal, the Blues won the seventh game 2-1 in overtime on a goal by Ron Schock. The last three games the Blues won in that series were all in overtime.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Martin St. Louis, Stanley Cup Finals, Game 6, June 5, 2004
The Lightning were the best team of the 2004 season. However, the Lightning season was hanging by a thread in double overtime of Game 6 in Calgary, with the Flames holding a 3-2 lead in the series.
Martin St. Louis was the man who lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning and let them live another day. After a redirection, which Kiprusoff saved, St. Louis lifted the rebound into the net to give them the game.
The Lightning finished the season as Stanley Cup champions after winning Game 7 in Tampa Bay.
Martin St. Louis had three overtime winners in the 2004 playoffs.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Bill Barilko, Stanley Cup Finals, Game 5, April 21, 1951
When the Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup, it will be special. You know it was special back when they were hockey's best team, along with the Montreal Canadiens. It must have been great for Toronto to beat Montreal in the Stanley Cup.
Bill Barilko scored in overtime of Game 5 of the 1951 Stanley Cup to give the Maple Leafs the series win over the Canadiens. Barilko died on a fishing trip that summer, as Ken Dryden explains in the video.
Barilko's final goal turned out to be the Maple Leafs key to that Stanley Cup. What a way to go out on top.
For all of you Maple Leafs fans who skipped the rest of the slides to get to this one, I'm on to you. Read all the slides.
Vancouver Canucks: Pavel Bure, Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 7, 4/30/94
Note: Go to 2:14:00 for Bure's goal.
Pavel Bure led the 1994 playoffs in goals, with 16. The "Russian Rocket" took the Vancouver Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final that year.
Bure started the road to the final by ending Game 7 of the first round against Calgary on a breakaway in double overtime.
The Canucks were down 3-1 in the series before winning the next three to steal the series. They won each of the last three games in overtime.
The Canucks were the seventh seed in the playoffs and upset their way to the Stanley Cup.
Unfortunately, the Canucks still have not won a Stanley Cup.
I also was not going to play the "recent memory" card and call a goal from this year, the most important in franchise history.
Washington Capitals: Joe Juneau, Eastern Conference Finals, Game 6, 6/5/98
The Capitals have made the Stanley Cup once in their history, in 1998. They were swept by the Detroit Red Wings.
Joe Juneau scored the series-clinching goal in overtime against Buffalo in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals by tucking away a rebound left by Dominik Hasek.
The Capitals wrapped up the series on the road and reached the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.
To me, Alex Ovechkin made hockey in Washington matter again. However, I am not prepared to put any of his goals on a pedestal for most important in Washington history. He has to do something in the playoffs first.
Winnipeg Jets/Atlanta Thrashers: Pascual Dupuis, April 6, 2007
The Atlanta Thrashers didn't have many important goals in their history, with the lack of a video of this goal proving my point. Instead, I put up a video of the Thrashers introduction in Game 2 of the 2007 playoffs against the Rangers.
The Thrashers clinched their only division title by beating Carolina on the road and having Tampa Bay lose later that night. The Thrashers won the game 4-1. Pascal Dupuis scored the second goal, making his goal the division clincher.
The Thrashers were never given a chance to succeed because of their ownership problems. Ken Campbell of The Hockey News wrote a good article on that subject.
The NHL is looking forward to reintroducing the Winnipeg Jets to the league, and I can't wait for that first game at the MTS Centre.
Conclusion and Special Thanks
I hope you enjoyed my slideshow on the most important goal in each franchise's history. I know it's impossible to appease everyone, so if you have any problems with my selection leave a comment and I'll get back to you.
I needed a lot of help with this article, and I called upon the Featured Columnists of other teams to help me out. I think I got everybody, but if I didn't, I apologize, and I really appreciate your help.
James Conley- Penguins
Kevin Goff- Avalanche (didn't choose yours, sorry buddy)
Brad LeClair- Maple Leafs
Ben Wilson- Maple Leafs
Franklin Steele- Red Wings and Blue Jackets
Dan Kelley- Flyers
Thanks for the read, and keep the military in your thoughts and prayers.