Nineteen seasons, 1,500 regular season games, four trips to the post-season and three playoff games that went beyond regulation. That’s how long it took the Winnipeg Jets, as a franchise, to finally win one in overtime during the post-season.
In the aftermath of Thursday’s soul-crushing, dying-seconds Game 5 defeat at the hands of St. Louis Blues, Jets fans probably aren’t much for looking on the bright side as they wake up Friday, but Game 4 did see Kyle Connor etch his name in the history books with his overtime tally. Throughout franchise history, dating back to the days as the Atlanta Thrashers, the Jets had tried and failed to come through in overtime. And oddly enough, despite last season’s deep post-season run, not a single one of Winnipeg’s victories came beyond regulation and only one game – a double-overtime loss to the Nashville Predators in the second round – took more than 60 minutes to solve.
So, when Connor tapped Mark Scheifele’s past the outstretched leg of Blues netminder Jordan Binnington, it gave Winnipeg their first overtime win and Connor the franchise’s first overtime winner. But who joins Connor in that group with the franchise’s first sudden-death marker? Here’s a team-by-team look at the first players to become OT heroes:
Anaheim Ducks: You get two guesses. Was your first Teemu Selanne? If it was, you’re wrong. If you went with Paul Kariya, though, pat yourself on the back. In the first round of the 1997 post-season, the then-Mighty Ducks’ first trip to the playoffs, Kariya delivered a crucial Game 6 overtime winner against the Phoenix Coyotes. Anaheim went on to win the series in seven.
Arizona Coyotes: Dave Ellett’s overtime winner against the Edmonton Oilers is a famous tally in Winnipeg, where the Coyotes originated, but did you know he assisted on the first OT winner in franchise history? That goal came off the stick of Brian Mullen in Game 1 of the Jets’ first-round series against the Calgary Flames in 1985.
Boston Bruins: Hall of Famer Harry Oliver wasn’t a game-in, game-out scorer for the Bruins. Not even close. But when Boston needed someone to come up big in Game 1 of the first-round series against the Montreal Maroons in 1930, it was Oliver. It was the only post-season winner he scored in his career.
Buffalo Sabres: It took the Sabres one post-season overtime – 9:18, to be exact – to get the first playoff OT winner in franchise history, and it came off of the stick of Rene Robert. Looking to stave off elimination in the first-round tilt against the Montreal Canadiens in 1973, Robert lifted Buffalo to a Game 5 victory. Unfortunately for the Sabres, the series ended two nights later.
Calgary Flames: After five straight preliminary round exits, the Flames finally moved on to the second round of the post-season during their first campaign in Calgary. The hero? Willi Plett. His triple-overtime goal in 1981 put the Flames past the opening round for the first time in franchise history. Talk about a big goal.
Carolina Hurricanes: The franchise’s second trip to the post-season started with a nerve-wracking 3-2 finish against the Quebec Nordiques in the first-round of the 1986 post-season, and with a Sylvain Turgeon’s quick strike in overtime, the franchise, then the Hartford Whalers, got its first playoff victory.
Chicago Blackhawks: The franchise’s trip to the Stanley Cup final, which came in 1931, started with Stew Adams’ overtime winner. The Game 2 marker put Chicago through to the second round, where they defeated the New York Rangers before falling in five games to the Canadiens in the final.
Colorado Avalanche: A plucky sophomore Nordiques outfit wasn’t about to go away quietly against the Philadelphia Flyers, and Dale Hunter scored a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it overtime winner in Game 4 of the 1981 first-round series to stretch the matchup to a deciding fifth game. Try as they might to win the first round in franchise history, though, Quebec came up short, dropping the series finale, 5-2.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Matt Calvert’s time in Columbus might be over, but he’ll go down in Blue Jackets history by way of his Game 2 overtime winner against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2014. The tally is historic for another reason, too: it gave Columbus its first playoff victory.
Dallas Stars: Between the regular and post-season, Milan Marcetta played 71 NHL games. His claim to fame will forever be the first overtime tally in Stars’ playoff history, recording the Game 6 winner that kept the then-North Stars alive. Minnesota won the series the next game out, thumping the Los Angeles Kings 9-4 in Game 7.
Detroit Red Wings: Detroit’s quick start to the 1934 post-season came courtesy Herbie Lewis, who gave the Red Wings a 1-0 series lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening round. Overtime giveth and overtime taketh away, though: the Red Wings made it to the Stanley Cup final, only to have the series end in double-overtime against the Chicago Black Hawks.
Edmonton Oilers: It was Wayne Gretzky, because of course it was. ‘The Great One’ scored the winner in Game 2 of Edmonton’s first-round series against the Kings in 1982. The Oilers lost that series, but didn’t taste post-season defeat very often in the years that followed. Edmonton lost just three playoff series while winning five Stanley Cups across the next eight seasons.
Florida Panthers: The Cats’ 1996 post-season run was one of the most unexpected in NHL history, and Florida can thank Dave Lowry for keeping it rolling. Facing a potential 3-1 hole in the second round against the Philadelphia Flyers, Lowry scored the winner in Game 4, which was followed by a Mike Hough double-overtime winner in Game 5 as the Panthers went on to down the Flyers, then the Pittsburgh Penguins, before losing to the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup final.
Los Angeles Kings: Ted Irvine’s son, professional wrestler Chris Jericho, is the one in the family known for delivering back breakers, but the ‘Baby Faced Assassin’ – which would have been a great ring name, by the way – was the one who put the Oakland Seals down for the count in Game 1 of the opening round series in 1969.
Minnesota Wild: Andrew Brunette’s winner in Game 7 of the 2003 first-round matchup with the Avalanche is the most famous overtime winner of the Wild’s first foray into the post-season. But do you remember who scored the first OT goal in that series? That was Richard Park, who won Game 6.
Montreal Canadiens: Jack McDonald’s overtime winner, which came in the Stanley Cup final, is historic in two ways: it was the first in Canadiens history and it was the last goal scored in the only final in league history that didn’t produce a winner. The 1919 Stanley Cup final was cancelled due to an influenza outbreak.
Nashville Predators: Jerred Smithson made his living in the corners. In 606 games, he scored 39 goals and 96 points, averaging little more than a dozen minutes per game. That made him an unlikely overtime hero, but hero he was in Game 5 of the Predators’ first-round series against Anaheim in 2011. Nashville had to wait until its sixth post-season to get an overtime victory.
New Jersey Devils: Only twice in the franchise’s first 14 seasons – during which time the team had moved from Kansas City to Colorado and finally to New Jersey – did the organization make the post-season, and it was during that second trip in 1988 that Doug Brown gave the Devils an overtime victory over the Bruins in Game 2 of the conference final.
New York Islanders: The rivalry with the Rangers got its first major playoff moment in Game 3 of the preliminary round against the Blueshirts in 1975, when J.P. Parise came up with the overtime winner that sent the Islanders through to the second round. The Islanders would go on to four conference finals in the next five seasons before rattling off four consecutive Stanley Cups.
New York Rangers: It wasn’t the series winner, but Frank Boucher’s Game 2 winner in the 1928 Stanley Cup final was massive for the Rangers, who dropped Game 3 before closing out the series and hoisting the Stanley Cup on the strength of wins in Games 4 and 5. Boucher scored both goals in the Cup-clinching victory.
Ottawa Senators: Who else but ‘Alfie’? In a contest that went 60 minutes without a goal, Daniel Alfredsson notched the only goal of Game 4 of the Senators’ first-round meeting with the Sabres in 1997. He’d score bigger playoff overtime goals in his career, but his first was also the first for the franchise.
Philadelphia Flyers: The first overtime winner in Flyers history wasn’t just an overtime goal, but a double-overtime marker. The honor went to Don Blackburn, who lifted Philadelphia to a victory in Game 6 of their first-round series against the St. Louis Blues during both teams’ inaugural campaign in 1967-68.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Michel Briere’s first playoff goal was the first overtime winner in Penguins history and helped Pittsburgh win its first series in franchise history in the same season they made their first post-season appearance. It was also the franchise’s first series sweep, as they made quick work of the Oakland Seals in 1970.
San Jose Sharks: Overtime played a big part in the Sharks’ 1995 first-round victory over the Flames. In Game 2, Ulf Dahlen scored the franchise’s first playoff OT goal. In Game 7, 10 days later, Ray Whitney scored the goal that sent San Jose to the second round for the second straight season.
St. Louis Blues: The Blues got awfully familiar with playoff overtime during their inaugural season with eight of their 18 post-season games going to at least one extra frame during the 1968 post-season run. In the first of those tilts, a double-overtime game against the Flyers, Larry Keenan netted the winner.
Tampa Bay Lightning: In 1996, when the Lightning made their first trip to the post-season, they managed only two victories and both came by way of overtime. Brian Bellows scored the winner in Game 2 against the Flyers that season. Alexander Selivanov notched the winner in Game 3.
Toronto Maple Leafs: It was back in the old St. Pats days that Toronto managed its first post-season overtime victory, with Babe Dye scoring in the extra frame in Game 2 of the 1922 Stanley Cup final. The winner played a part in Toronto’s eventual Stanley Cup victory.
Vancouver Canucks: Tiger Williams’ stick-riding celebration is a thing of legend, but his reaction to his overtime tally in Game 2 of the 1982 first-round meeting with the Flames is worth watching again. That’s how you celebrate the first OT winner in franchise history.
Vegas Golden Knights: It took all of 84 games for the Golden Knights to experience overtime success in the post-season, and the winner was the handiwork of Erik Haula, who notched the winner in Game 2 of Vegas’ eventual first-round sweep of the Los Angeles Kings in 2017-18. The franchise’s second came little more than two weeks later off the stick of William Karlsson.
Washington Capitals: It took the Capitals a decade to win a playoff game in overtime, and once they did, they followed it up with a second shortly thereafter. Washington got their first overtime win on the strength of Alan Haworth’s goal in Game 1 of the 1985 first-round series against the Islanders, and some guy named Mike Gartner put home a double-overtime winner the next night.