Ranking the Best Goals of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs
It's not quite over yet, but we're getting close to the conclusion of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs.
A little less than two months ago, 16 teams hit the ice in pursuit of hockey's Holy Grail. Along the way, we have had the chance to watch some tremendous goaltending, outstanding displays of skill and—of course—great goals.
The Stanley Cup Final is heading back to San Jose for Game 6 on June 12, which means there will be more big goals still to come before the players hang up their skates for this season.
For now, here are the 10 most memorable goals of the playoffs so far. A few of them have been bumped up the ranking because they were so important to their teams, but for the most part, they're simply a bunch of beauties.
10. Ryan Kesler Finishes off the Tic-Tac-Toe on the Power Play
Date: April 27, 2016
Series: Game 7 of Round 1, with the series between the Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators tied 3-3.
Game Situation: 1:45 into the third period, with the Predators leading 2-0.
The Goal: For a textbook example of how to break down a penalty kill, check out this display by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team with the best regular-season power play in the NHL went to school on the Nashville Predators in the third period of the deciding game of their series, as Kevin Bieksa fed the puck to Hampus Lindholm on the half wall. Lindholm passed to Jakob Silfverberg behind the goal line, who one-touched the puck to Ryan Kesler, in the slot.
Kesler's quick release from his right knee hit the net high on Pekka Rinne's blocker side. Watch the goal here, courtesy of NHL.com.
The goal would narrow the Nashville lead to 2-1 but was the only tally of the night for the Ducks. Anaheim was eliminated from the playoffs in a seventh game on home ice for the fourth consecutive season.
9. Troy Brouwer Shows Uncanny Hand-Eye Coordination
Date: May 23, 2016
Series: Game 5 of the Western Conference Final between the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks, with the series tied 2-2.
Game Situation: 15:08 into the first period, with the score tied 1-1.
The Goal: Troy Brouwer's eighth goal of the playoffs may not have been as important to the St. Louis Blues as the ugly bounce that powered them past the Chicago Blackhawks in Round 1, but from a pure skill point of view, it was a dazzler.
Coming in on left wing, Brouwer picked up a rebound of a Paul Stastny shot in midair and batted it past Sharks goaltender Martin Jones to give his team a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission of the pivotal Game 5. Watch the goal here, courtesy of NHL.com.
The Sharks would bounce back to win the game 6-3 and ultimately prevail in the series, and the goal would turn out to be the last of Brouwer's impressive postseason. The impending unrestricted free agent went out on a high note, setting himself up for a potentially lucrative payday on July 1.
8. Jonathan Drouin's 1-Timer Finishes a Lightning 3-on-1
Date: May 13, 2016
Series: Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Game Situation: 18:25 into the second period, with the Lightning leading 2-0.
The Goal: Jonathan Drouin had a tough regular season, but the Tampa Bay Lightning winger made up for it in the playoffs, scoring 14 points in 17 games.
Drouin's prettiest goal came off a 3-on-1 late in the second period of the first game of the Eastern Conference Final. After accepting a pass across the ice by Ondrej Palat, Drouin fires a one-timer over the glove of a sprawling Matt Murray. Watch the goal here, courtesy of NHL.com.
The Lightning would win the Game 3-1 and Drouin would score three more goals in the series, but Tampa Bay was ultimately defeated by Pittsburgh in seven games.
7. T.J. Oshie Starts Hat Trick with Breakaway Goal
Date: April 28, 2016
Series: Game 1 of Round 2 between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Game Situation: 12:10 into the second period, with the Penguins leading 2-1.
The Goal: The series was billed as the battle between Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, but it was Ovechkin's linemate T.J. Oshie who made headlines in Game 1 with his hat-trick performance.
Oshie's first goal of the game was the prettiest. With the Capitals trailing 2-1, he picked the pocket of Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta at his own blue line, then streaked down the right wing. Going wide on Kris Letang, Oshie's quick snipe over the glove of Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray tied the game 2-2. Watch the goal here, courtesy of NHL.com.
Oshie would give the Capitals a 3-2 lead in the third period, then squeak a wraparound past Murray in overtime to earn his hat trick and give Washington a 1-0 lead in the series. The Capitals would ultimately fall to the Penguins in six games.
6. Patrick Kane's Double-Overtime Goal Saves Blackhawks from Elimination
Date: April 21, 2016
Series: Game 5 of Round 1, with the St. Louis Blues leading the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 and the Blackhawks facing elimination.
Game Situation: 3:07 into the second overtime period, with the game tied 3-3.
The Goal: The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks quickly fell into a 3-1 hole in their first-round series against the St. Louis Blues. Fighting for their playoff lives, the Blackhawks jumped out to a 3-1 lead in Game 5, but the Blues forced overtime on third-period goals by Robby Fabbri and David Backes.
The Blues kept coming in the first overtime period, outshooting Chicago 11-6, but the NHL's leading scorer in the 2015-16 regular season struck with one of his patented wraparound goals to keep the Blackhawks alive.
Patrick Kane was foiled on his first wraparound attempt after he carried the puck into the offensive zone, but he stuck with the play. After taking a pass from the end boards by Richard Panik, Kane wristed the puck toward Brian Elliott, then cut behind the net again before finally poking the loose puck past the helpless St. Louis goaltender. Watch the goal here, courtesy of NHL.com.
Chicago would go on to win Game 6, tying the series 3-3, before dropping a 3-2 decision in Game 7 and being eliminated from the 2016 playoffs.
5. Joel Ward Bulldozes to a Game 7 Breakaway
Date: May 12, 2016
Series: Game 7 of Round 2, with the series between the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators tied at 3-3.
Game Situation: 16:51 into the first period, with the Sharks leading 1-0.
The Goal: After failing to close out the Predators in Game 6, the Sharks stormed out of the gate on home ice in Game 7. San Jose outshot Nashville 17-3 in the first period and went into the dressing room with a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Joe Pavelski and this one, from Joel Ward.
With just over three minutes to play in the opening frame, strong play in the defensive zone led Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Melker Karlsson to get the puck up to a streaking Ward. The power forward chipped it past Predators defenseman Roman Josi, then bore down on Pekka Rinne before sliding the puck between the legs of the helpless goaltender. Watch the goal here, courtesy of NHL.com.
The Sharks would continue to dominate the game. The 5-0 victory advanced them to the Western Conference Final against the St. Louis Blues.
4. John Tavares Powers Islanders into Round 2
Date: April 24, 2016
Series: Game 6 of the first-round series between the Florida Panthers and New York Islanders, with the Islanders leading the series 3-2.
Game Situation: 10:41 into double overtime, with the score tied 1-1.
The Goal: John Tavares picked up his own rebound off a wrist shot, then circled the net to deposit the puck into the open side on the wraparound with goaltender Roberto Luongo well out of position. Watch the goal here, courtesy of NHL.com.
The goal came on the 19th overtime shot for the Islanders and was Tavares' second of the game and fifth of the series. He had saved the Islanders from heading back to Sunrise for a Game 7 when he tied the game 1-1 with just 54 seconds left to play in the third period.
Tavares' tally was also historic. It triggered the Islanders' first playoff-series win since 1993, in front of their new home fans in their first season at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
3. Sidney Crosby Goes 5-Hole on Andrei Vasilevskiy
Date: May 24, 2016
Series: Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning, with the Lightning leading the series 3-2 and the Penguins facing elimination.
Game Situation: 19:34 of the second period, with the Penguins up 2-0.
The Goal: His Penguins had already built a comfortable lead in their first elimination game against the Lightning.
With less than a minute to play in the second period, Sidney Crosby sealed the win when he reversed the play at the blue line, split the top Tampa Bay defense pairing of Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman and snapped a quick wrister between the pads of an unprepared Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Watch the goal here, courtesy of NHL.com.
The goal was Crosby's sixth of the playoffs and proved to be his third game-winner against Tampa Bay as the Penguins went on to a 5-2 win. Pittsburgh would ultimately defeat the Lightning in Game 7, booking themselves a spot in the Stanley Cup Final.
2. Brent Burns Gives Sharks First Lead Against Penguins
Date: June 9, 2016
Series: Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, with the Pittsburgh Penguins leading the San Jose Sharks 3-1 and the Sharks facing elimination.
Game Situation: 1:04 into the first period, with the game scoreless.
The Goal: Heading into Game 5, the San Jose Sharks hadn't held a lead in the Stanley Cup Final, much less scored the first goal.
Brent Burns quickly dampened the party mood at Consol Energy Center after Melker Karlsson's aggressive forecheck sprang the puck free along the end boards. Burns wheeled and scooped a wraparound shot just under Matt Murray's right arm for his first goal of the Final. Watch the goal here, courtesy of NHL.com.
San Jose would go on to win the game 4-2, staying alive in the series and setting the stage for Game 6 at the Shark Tank.
1. Bonino-Bonino-Bonino Version 1
Date: May 10, 2016
Series: Game 6 of the second-round series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals, with the Penguins leading the series 3-2 and the Capitals facing elimination.
Game Situation: 6:32 of overtime, with the score tied 3-3.
The Goal: The goal is terrific, but the call is what will etch it in history. Play-by-play broadcaster Harnarayan Singh of Hockey Night in Canada's Punjabi branch immortalized Nick Bonino when the Penguins' center scored the overtime goal that launched his team into the Eastern Conference Final.
After the Penguins squandered a 3-0 lead in the deciding game of the series, Bonino played hero at Consol Energy Center when he picked up a rebound off a Carl Hagelin shot and backhanded the puck past a fallen Braden Holtby to knock the 2016 Presidents' Trophy winners out of the Stanley Cup competition.
Bonino would inspire another epic call by Singh when he scored the winning goal in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against San Jose, but the original is always better than the sequel, right?
All stats courtesy of NHL.com.