If there’s one thing the Stanley Cup playoffs bring each year, it’s drama.
Upsets, seventh games, veterans striving for their first Cup and young players getting a taste of what it takes to win make the NHL post-season grind unique.
And then, of course, there’s overtime.
Some of the greatest playoff games in NHL history have gone to an overtime period…or six.
In chronological order, here are some of the more memorable overtime games in NHL history.
Detroit Red Wings 1, Montreal Maroons 0
March 24, 1936 (16:30 of the sixth overtime period)
Mud Bruneteau ends the longest game in NHL history with a goal that’s remembered as the result of fatigue, rather than skill. Detroit goes on to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the final.
Detroit Red Wings 4, New York Rangers 3
April 23, 1950 (8:31 of the second overtime period)
Pete Babando scores the winner in the first Stanley Cup final Game 7 to go to overtime. Four years later, another Red Wing – Tony Leswick – pots the game-winner in the last Cup final series to go to overtime in Game 7.
Toronto Maple Leafs 3, Montreal Canadiens 2
April 21, 1951 (2:53 of the first overtime period)
Bill Barilko scores in Game 5 – the fifth game in a row that went to extra time – to clinch the Cup for the Leafs. Barilko disappears that summer when his plane goes down while returning from a fishing trip in northern Quebec. It is more than a decade later when Barilko’s remains are found.
Boston Bruins 4, St. Louis Blues 3
May 10, 1970 (0:40 of the first overtime period)
Bobby Orr scores the Cup-clincher in Game 4 and then gets airborne, creating one of the most iconic photographs in sport. The goal gives Boston its first championship in 29 years and cements Orr’s legacy as one of the most beloved sports figures in Boston history.
New York Islanders 5, Philadelphia Flyers 4
May 24, 1980 (7:11 of the first overtime period)
Bob Nystrom swats in the series winner in Game 6 of the final for the Islanders, starting a run of four consecutive Cups for the first dynasty of the 1980s. (The Oilers are soon to follow.)
Montreal Canadiens 3, Calgary Flames 2
May 18, 1986 (0:09 of the first overtime period)
Brian Skrudland wastes little time recording the fastest overtime goal in NHL playoff history. The Canadiens capture their 23rd Stanley Cup at the expense of the Flames. Calgary gets redemption three years later, beating Montreal for the franchise’s only Cup in 1989.
New York Islanders 3, Washington Capitals 2
April 18, 1987 (8:47 of the fourth overtime period)
Pat LaFontaine’s seeing-eye slapper from the top of the faceoff circle ends the longest Game 7 in NHL history. Islanders goalie Kelly Hrudey makes an incredible 73 saves in backstopping his team to the victory, while Caps netminder Bob Mason stops a mere 54 shots.
After losing their first game of the post-season in overtime to the Quebec Nordiques, their hated provincial rival, the Canadiens put together an improbable string of 10 straight overtime victories. Three of those come during the Cup final against Wayne Gretzky’s Los Angeles Kings, as Montreal captures its 24th Stanley Cup.
Pittsburgh Penguins 3, Washington Capitals 2
April 24, 1996 (19:15 of the fourth overtime period)
Petr Nedved ends the fifth-longest game in playoff history, spurring the Penguins on to the conference final (where they lose to the upstart Florida Panthers in seven games). Four years later, many of the same Pens players feel the sting of losing a marathon game when Keith Primeau scores for the Philadelphia Flyers to end the third-longest game in history at 12:01 of the fifth overtime.
Dallas Stars 2, Buffalo Sabres 1
June 19, 1999 (14:51 of the third overtime period)
With a skate in the crease, Brett Hull scores the infamous ‘No Goal’ goal, breaking the hearts of Buffalo fans and delivering Dallas its only Stanley Cup. The controversial “skate-in-the-crease” rule is relaxed the next season, but Sabres fans are still reeling from what was clearly – according to the rules at the time – an illegal goal.
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