Some of the biggest goals in hockey history have been pure beauties, but not every overtime winner, series decider or history-making tally is worth watching on repeat.
It’s always an ugly goal.
That’s the old hockey cliché. Whenever a crucial game gets to overtime, or close enough that it feels like overtime, somebody will mention that it will probably end on an ugly goal. That’s just how hockey works.
Not always, of course. Sometimes, we get a goal that lives up to expectations. From Doug Gilmour to Pavel Bure to Todd Marchant, some of history’s most memorable clutch goals were beauties. Even Patrick Kane’s overtime Cup winner featured a nice little shake-and-bake move before everyone lost sight of the puck. So they’re not all bad.
But yeah, some of them are pretty awful. And now we can welcome Patric Hornqvist to the club. His Cup-winning goal on Sunday night was as big as they come, but you probably won’t be seeing his behind-the-net bank shot replayed on many highlight reels.
But don’t worry, Patric. You’re in good company. So today, let’s look back on five of the (many) all-time classic goals that, if we’re being honest, were pretty ugly.
Uwe Krupp, 1996 Stanley Cup final
When the Stanley Cup is on the line in overtime, you’re hoping the winner will be memorable. That’s especially true if it’s a 0-0 nail-biter. And if it also happens to be triple-overtime, look out. This is the time for some future Hall-of-Famer to make their mark on the game’s history with the goal of their career. And there were more than a few HHOFers on this Avalanche roster, so it was all set up pretty much perfectly.
Or, you know, a defensive defenseman could randomly fire one home from 70 feet out. I guess that works too.
That’s what Uwe Krupp gave us in 1996, becoming the first player since Bob Nystrom in 1980 to score a Cup-winning goal in overtime. It’s OK if you don’t remember it. Barely anyone seems to; the goal was so unremarkable that the broadcasts barely bothered showing replays.
The goal ended one of the worst Stanley Cup finals ever, although it also confirmed the Avalanche’s arrival as one of the best and most entertaining teams of the next decade. Let’s just tell future generations that the game ended on a Forsberg-to-Sakic tic-tac-toe play and be done with it.
Stephane Matteau, 1994 Eastern conference final
This is almost certainly the most famous goal of the Rangers’ 1994 Cup run, even topping anything from the final. You could make a solid case that it’s the most famous goal in Rangers’ franchise history, period.
It’s also pretty awful.
You’ll hear it described as a wraparound, but it’s not even really that. Matteau makes a nice play to beat Scott Niedermayer to a loose puck and head behind the bet net with some speed, but then he just basically throws it near the crease and banks it in off of Martin Brodeur.
To this day, nobody seems to be 100% sure how the puck found its way in; there’s one great angle from the sideboards, but the referee shows up at just the wrong moment to block the view. But it did go in, and that’s all that matters. When you’re a Ranger Rangers fan, they you don’t ask how, they you ask how many.
(The answer: One in 73 74 years, so we’ll take what we can get.)
Steve Smith/Perry Berezan, 1986 Smythe division final
I did not want to put this one on the list. I’ve written about it twice in recent months, here and here, and each time it just depresses me more. I I’ve tried to come up with some sort of loophole, like how it shouldn’t count because it was technically Berezan’s goal so Smith is off the hook., But but there was no choice. You can’t write about the ugliest important goals without including what probably stands as the ugliest ever.
So here it is. Fair warning, no matter how many times you’ve seen it, it doesn’t get any easier.
Well, at least now we know where Hornqvist got the move from. Let’s just move on before we all end up looking like this.
Henri Richard, 1966 Stanley Cup final
Younger fans are sometimes surprised to hear that Richard once scored a Cup winner in overtime. You’ve got the league’s most decorated team winning a Stanley Cup in sudden death, and the goal is scored by a future Hall of Famer from one of the most famous hockey families ever. Why doesn’t this goal show up in every NHL marketing package ever made?
Well, maybe because Richard sure seemed to score it with his glove.
Red Wings goalie Roger Crozier maintained that Richard swiped the puck in with his hand, but that the referee refused to wave it off. And there was no review back then, because nobody had a long enough extension cord to get a cathode-ray tube onto the ice for the officials to huddle around before declaring the replay inconclusive.
Luckily, the NHL learned its lesson and never allowed the Cup final to end on an illegal goal ever again.
Paul Henderson, 1972 Summit Series
I know, I know. Please don’t take away my Canadian passport.
Look, this is a legendary goal, and rightly so. It may be the most important goal in international hockey history. Every Canadian fan can still recite Foster Hewitt’s call, and the real diehards know Bob Cole’s radio version too. When it comes to clutch moments, Henderson might never be topped.
It was also a pretty pedestrian hockey goal.
It’s not often that somebody like me can look at a famous goal and say “Hey, I could do half of that.” Granted, the half I could do is the part where Henderson falls down and slams into the end boards, but still, that should count for something. Henderson gets wiped out, then winds up all alone in front of Vladislav Tretiak with multiple whacks at a loose puck before finally burying it.
Canadians have been pretty spoiled over the years by reasonably nifty international goals, from Lemieux-to-Gretzky Gretzky-to-Lemieux to Juh-yoe Sakic to Iggy-to-Crosby. This one, not so much. It’s OK to admit that.
(Now if you’ll excuse me, Canadian border patrol officers have surrounded my house.)
Sean McIndoe has been writing about the NHL since 2008; you may know him from Twitter as @downgoesbrown. His e-book, The 100 Greatest Players in NHL History, is available now. He appears weekly on TheHockeyNews.com.