No. 1 – March 26, 1997 – Detroit 6, Colorado 5 (OT)
In 1995-96, Detroit won an NHL-record 62 games. But Colorado smacked the Red Wings in the Western Conference final en route to winning the Cup, a comeuppance punctuated when Avalanche agitator Claude Lemieux drove Kris Draper headfirst into the boards, shattering Draper’s face.
When the Avs arrived at Joe Louis Arena for their final meeting of 1996-97 March 26, the Wings needed to answer the bell. “We were about three weeks away from the playoffs, and we had yet to beat them,” Draper said. “We kind of knew if we were gonna be Stanley Cup champions, you had to go through Colorado.”
Fans recall it as ‘The Brawl.’ The Wings remember it as the day their Cup dreams became reality. At 18:22 of the first period, Detroit’s Igor Larionov and Colorado’s Peter Forsberg scuffled along the boards, igniting a firestorm. In the ensuing melee, Darren McCarty sought out and pummeled Lemieux as the latter turtled. In the third, the Wings rallied from a 5-3 deficit to tie the game, sending it to OT. “And who scores the overtime goal?” Draper said. “It’s Mac, with everything he just went through.”
The brawl was cathartic; the 6-5 win essential to complete the equation. That spring, the Wings swept Philadelphia in the final for their first Cup since 1955. En route to the title, they beat Colorado in the West final. In reality, they overcame the Avs on March 26, 1997. “That was the most important thing the team ever accomplished together,” said Joe Kocur. “There was just a different team in that (dressing) room, a team that felt they had grown together and could win the Cup.”
No. 2 – April 23, 1950 – Detroit 4, NY Rangers 3 (2oT)
The Wings won the Stanley Cup when Pete Babando scored in double overtime in Game 7. It remains the only multi-OT Game 7 Cup final in NHL history.
No. 3 – April 15, 1937 – Detroit 3, NY Rangers 0
Rookie goalie Earl Robertson posted back-to-back shutouts as Red Wings became the first American team to win consecutive Cups.
GREATEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE OF ALL-TIME
Dec. 26, 1996 – Detroit 5, Washington 4 (OT)
Fedorov’s belated holiday gift to Red Wings fans was a treat that no other NHLer has duplicated in a regular-season game, scoring every Detroit goal in a 5-4 overtime win over the Capitals.
Of the 45 NHLers who have scored five goals in a regular-season game, Fedorov is the only one to score all of his team’s goals. (Maurice Richard also did it in Montreal’s 5-1 win over Toronto in the 1944 playoffs.) “It was very exciting,” Fedorov said. “When you score in overtime, it’s a big celebration because that means it’s time to close the office and send everybody home happy.”