The Most Memorable Playoff Overtime Goal in Each NHL Team's History
Since the NHL assumed exclusive control of the Stanley Cup in 1926, 15 championships have been clinched by 10 different franchises via an overtime goal. Another 43 games have required more than two extra periods to decide.
Countless other sudden-death strikes have proven to be the turning point in a series and/or a given team’s playoff run. Some have cemented milestone achievements in a franchise’s history, such as a first-time appearance in the Cup final. Others that occur early enough in a series have set the stage for an upset.
With the exception of Columbus, every active NHL city has witnessed at least one overtime goal. In alphabetical order, here is the most significant in each franchise’s history.
Anaheim: Petr Sykora vs. Dallas
The 2003 Mighty Ducks were on the heels of sweeping the No. 2 seed and defending champion Detroit Red Wings. Ostensibly, the only greater challenge to follow that was to lasso and repress the top-seeded Dallas Stars in the second round.
Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere set a positive tone with 61 saves to push the series opener to a fifth overtime. Skating mate Petr Sykora ended the marathon with 48 seconds gone in the eighth period by slugging home Adam Oates’ feed from the slot.
That ended the fourth-longest game in NHL history and set Anaheim on pace for another upset, which it completed in five games.
Boston: Bobby Orr vs. St. Louis
In all likelihood, the most easily forgotten details behind this goal are that it occurred with only 40 seconds gone in the first overtime and finished a sweep.
Other than that, this goal has everything. It was scored by a revolutionary figure who was arguably the best player of his time and likely the best Bruin of all time. It ended what was then the longest championship drought in the history of America’s oldest NHL franchise at 29 years.
And not to mention, it created one of the most recognizable images in the sport’s annals.
Buffalo: Rene Robert vs. Philadelphia
Although it was part of a losing cause, Buffalo’s Game 3 overtime triumph at least gave them new life in the 1975 Stanley Cup finals. This moment also has its self-explanatory style points for the fact that it was the famed “Fog Game.”
Calgary: Joel Otto vs. Vancouver
In 1989, the Flames only championship campaign to date, the only series that required a rubber game was in the opening round versus the Canucks. The cardiac clash ended with Otto pumping CPR into the Saddledome.
Carolina: Eric Staal vs. Montreal
The eventual 2006 champion Hurricanes started their run by dropping the first two games of the first round on home ice.
In Game 3, at the perpetually treacherous Bell Centre, they were one sudden-death strike away from a dire 3-0 series deficit. But with an early power play, Eric Staal gave Carolina sudden life with a homeward bound, straightaway slapper.
From there, the Canes won three straight to dislodge the Habs and carried on to the title.
Chicago: Mush March vs. Detroit and Patrick Kane vs. Philadelphia
Two of the Blackhawks’ four Stanley Cups have been clinched on an overtime goal.
One of them, way back in 1934, not only garnered the franchise’s first championship, but also marked a poignant moment surrounding goaltender Charlie Gardiner. Gardiner was playing through a two-year-long illness to hold the Red Wings scoreless until Mush March tuned the mesh at 10:05 of double-overtime. The victorious backstop would succumb to his illness two months later.
Meanwhile, virtually everyone who is presently living on this planet can recall Patrick Kane’s goal that ended the Blackhawks’ 49-year title drought.
It’s simply not fair to try to decide between these two, so this slide is a tie.
Colorado: Uwe Krupp vs. Florida
When it comes to ranking the items in one’s memory bank, it’s pretty hard to top a triple-overtime goal that wins a team’s first Stanley Cup.
Dallas: Brett Hull vs. Buffalo
See Colorado. And just for right now, never mind the legality debate.
Detroit: Mud Bruneteau vs. Montreal Maroons
At 116 minutes and 30 seconds worth of overtime, it remains the longest overtime game in league history after 76 years. And it occurred in the penultimate round of the Red Wings’ run to their first ever Cup.
While Bruneateau’s strike stands out solely for the fact that it ended the longest game to date, it is worth giving an honorable mention to Pete Babando’s goal against the Rangers in 1950 and Tony Leswick’s against the Canadiens in 1954. After all, those are the only two overtime goals to have been scored in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Edmonton: Petr Klima vs. Boston
Petr Klima ended what remains the longest Stanley Cup final game by giving the Oilers a 1-0 series lead after 45 minutes and 13 seconds of bonus action.
Florida: Mike Hough vs. Philadelphia
The double-overtime triumph in Game 5 at the Spectrum gave the visiting Panthers a crucial upper hand in the 1996 Eastern Conference semifinals. With that, they came back home to the rat-throwing masses to clinch the series with a 4-1 victory.
A subsequent seven-game victory over Pittsburgh gave Florida its first berth in the Cup final. The Panthers have not won a playoff round since then.
Los Angeles: Daryl Evans vs. Edmonton
What else but the Miracle on Manchester?
On this exact date 30 years ago, Evans followed up on the Kings’ rally from a 5-0 deficit to complete a 6-5 victory in Game 3 of a best-of-five bout with the Oilers. Los Angeles would ultimately prevail in the rubber game.
Minnesota: Andrew Brunette vs. Colorado
The last shot faced in the career of Patrick Roy, the man many consider the best goaltender in the history of the sport, went in. With that, the surprising Wild cemented a seven-game triumph in the opening round of the 2003 playoffs, their first-ever postseason run in only their third year of existence.
Montreal: Toe Blake vs. Chicago
The Canadiens have won four of their 24 Cups on an overtime goal. The first of those came in 1944, courtesy of a man who later cemented his legacy as a dynastic head coach.
Nashville: Matt Halischuk vs. Vancouver
One round prior to the Predators encounter with the Canucks, Nashville saw its first ever playoff overtime goal against Anaheim en route to its first ever playoff series victory.
As momentous as that might be in the franchise’s relatively young history, beating the President’s Trophy winner on the road in double-overtime is no small feat. Halischuk’s tally gave Nashville a split of the first two games in the Western Conference semifinals.
New Jersey: Jason Arnott vs. Dallas
The Devils were the only Eastern Conference team not to have a single game spill beyond regulation in the first three rounds of the 2000 playoffs. Once they got to the finals and sculpted themselves a commanding 3-1 lead, they whiffed on their first try to clinch the Cup when Mike Modano tallied in the third overtime of Game 5.
Game 6 was Take Two on that front and Arnott converted in the second bonus period to deliver New Jersey’s second championship in six years.
NY Islanders: Bobby Nystrom vs. Philadelphia
An honorable mention is owed to the Easter Epic of 1987, but Nystrom’s strike sparked a four-year dynasty on Long Island. What more criteria do you need here?
NY Rangers: Stephane Matteau vs. New Jersey
Matteau, who had already given the Rangers a 2-1 edge in this seesaw series with one double-overtime conversion in Game 3, reran his heroics and sent them to their first Stanley Cup final in 15 years.
From there, the Rangers knocked off Vancouver and terminated a 54-year title drought, which began after Bryan Hextall clinched the 1940 Cup with another OT strike against Toronto.
Ottawa: Daniel Alfredsson vs. Buffalo
Between the regular season and playoffs, Alfredsson donned a Senators uniform for the 877th time on May 19, 2007, the day his franchise had its third chance to earn a berth in the Stanley Cup finals. They had previously lost Game 7 to New Jersey in 2003 and missed its chance to sweep the Sabres three nights earlier.
Before this matinee could commence overtime after a 2-2 regulation deadlock, several U.S. television viewers were snubbed when NBC abruptly transferred the game to Versus in favor of showing horses warm up for their two minutes of fame.
But at least, for their sake, the vast bulk of the Senators fan base got to see this on their national network.
Philadelphia: Keith Primeau vs. Pittsburgh
The first NHL game in the post-World War II era to go to a fifth overtime ended when Primeau beat Pittsburgh’s Ron Tugnutt to draw a 2-2 knot in the conference semifinals. The Flyers eventually won in six games after initially trailing, 2-0.
Phoenix: Shane Doan vs. St. Louis
The goal that evened the 1999 conference quarterfinals at a game apiece is literally all the Coyotes have in this department.
Pittsburgh: Ron Francis vs. New York Rangers
With his team trailing the Rangers, 2-1, in the Wales Conference semifinals and facing the specter of going back to Madison Square Garden with a 3-1 series deficit, Francis gave the defending champion Penguins new life in Game 4.
Pittsburgh won the next two games and ultimately repeated its title with a sweep of the Blackhawks.
San Jose: Ray Whitney vs. Calgary
The San Jose Sharks broke their historical ice in 1994 with a first-round upset of the Detroit Red Wings. The following year, they once again defied the opposition’s home-ice advantage to zap the Flames in seven games. The series was decided at 1:54 of the second overtime by Whitney, who silenced the Saddledome.
St. Louis: Doug Wickenheiser vs. Calgary
The Flames were the eventual victors in the 1986 Campbell Conference finals, but a valiant rally from a 5-2 deficit and overtime tally by the late Wickenheiser at least won Game 6 for the Blues at St. Louis Arena.
Tampa Bay: Martin St. Louis vs. Calgary
After splitting his first two seasons in the NHL between the Flames and their old AHL team in Saint John, N.B., St. Louis went on to become the co-face of the Lightning, opposite Vincent Lecavalier.
St. Louis’ upset-minded former teammates nearly wrested the Cup away in the sixth game of the 2004 finals. But a heroic, highlight-reel conversion 33 seconds into double-overtime preserved the Bolts’ bid for a title, which they claimed two nights later in Game 7.
Toronto: Bill Barilko vs. Montreal
All five games of the 1951 Stanley Cup finals required bonus action to decide. Barilko, a 24-year-old defenseman, ended the series by straying from his point perch and spooning the puck over unprepared Canadiens’ goaltender Gerry McNeil.
The goal was almost immediately cemented into hockey lore the subsequent offseason when Barilko disappeared and was presumed dead in a private plane crash. The story inspired a 1992 single, “Fifty Mission Cap,” by the Ontario band The Tragically Hip.
Vancouver: Kevin Bieksa vs. San Jose
A strange and serendipitous bounce brought a relatively swift end to the 2011 Western Conference finals, which proved less competitive than most would have expected.
Washington: Joe Juneau vs. Buffalo
The Capitals won three overtime decisions in the 1998 Eastern Conference finals, including a series clincher in Game 6 via Juneau. That stamped Washington’s only Stanley Cup finals passport to date.
Winnipeg: Brian Mullen vs. Calgary
The new Jets fell short of a playoff bid in their inaugural season and their predecessors won only two NHL postseason series in their 17 years of existence.
But Winnipeg fans do have this. In the opening game of the best-of-five, 1985 divisional semifinal, Mullen polished off a 5-4 triumph en route to a 3-1 series victory.