In two weeks’ time, Patric Hornqvist will be celebrating the three-year anniversary of the date the Nashville Predators shipped him off to the Pittsburgh Penguins. So, on Sunday night, he got himself an early anniversary present: the Stanley Cup. Better yet, he scored the goal to win it and did so against several of his former teammates.
For Hornqvist, it was the right time to come alive.
Though he was in some familiar stomping grounds at the Bridgestone Arena, it had taken him some time to start finding his scoring touch against his former team. In fact, through the first four games of the series, he had gone scoreless, putting nine shots on goal while averaging fourth-line minutes. But come Game 5, Hornqvist found the scoresheet for the first time in the series, picking up an assist in Pittsburgh’s beatdown of Nashville. Then, in Game 6, he scored undoubtedly the biggest goal of his career, potting the Cup-winning goal with 95 seconds left on the clock and silencing the building he used to call home.
As far as series-long performances go against a former team go, Hornqvist’s play is far from all-time quality, but the importance of the moment he chose to score his only goal of the series elevates it in a big way. For six years and nearly 400 games, Hornqvist had called Nashville home, and for him to return in the final to deliver the dagger that ripped the Stanley Cup out of the Predators’ hands makes for quite the moment. But what are some of the other great final performances against a former club? Look back at five of the best from the past 30 years:
Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks — 2010 vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Statistics: 6 GP, 4G-2A—6 Pts.
It would probably be safe to call the Blackhawks’ acquisition of Sharp from the Flyers one of the most lopsided trades in league history. It’s not as though Sharp is a lock for the Hall of Fame or anything, but he scored 239 goals and 511 points over 679 games in Chicago, including four 30-plus goal campaigns. He also added another 42 goals and 80 points in the playoffs as a Blackhawk. Meanwhile, Matt Ellison played seven games as a Flyer.
As for Sharp, never was he better than the 2009-10 Cup run in Chicago, and he capped that with a performance that made Philadelphia regret the swap, which happened four seasons earlier, that much more.
Already having a massive post-season with seven goals and 16 points in 16 games, Sharp found started to come alive in the goal column against his former club. Through the first four games, he had scored two goals and three points, and Sharp kicked it up further with two goals and three points in the final two games of the Stanley Cup final. Included in his final performance was the game-tying goal minutes after the Flyers had pulled ahead in Game 6, and Sharp was on the ice when Patrick Kane scored the Cup-winning goal.
Martin St-Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning — 2004 vs. Calgary Flames
Statistics: 7GP, 4G-2A—6 Pts.
Things could have been so much different for the Flames if they had only known the player St-Louis would become. However, after two mediocre seasons in Calgary, the Flames let St-Louis walk. Thus, he ended up in Tampa Bay by the start of the 2000-01 campaign and found a superstar-calibre level as a member of the Lightning. Within three seasons of joining the Bolts, St-Louis was a 30-goal, 70-point player, and come 2003-04, he was inarguably the most dangerous offensive talent in the league, winning the Art Ross, Hart and Lester B. Pearson with 38 goals and 94 points.
But the personal achievements paled in comparison to the post-season play from the team as a whole. Led by goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and the red-hot hand of Brad Richards, the Lightning worked their way to a meeting with the Flames in the final and Game 6 was St-Louis’ chance to play hero. With the teams tied at two in double overtime, St-Louis fired home the game-winner to send the series to a seventh game, and the Lightning captured the Cup two days later on home ice.
Jeff Friesen, New Jersey Devils — 2003 vs. Anaheim Ducks
Statistics: 7GP, 5G-0A—5 Pts.
In July 2002, with the then-Mighty Ducks months removed from an incredibly disappointing campaign, changes were made in Anaheim. Among those was the trade of Friesen, along with Oleg Tverdovsky and Maxim Balmochnykh, to the Devils for a package that included Petr Sykora and Mike Commodore. New Jersey couldn’t have known the dividends the trade would pay.
During the regular season, Friesen was excellent, putting up 23 goals and 51 points in his first year as a Devil. That didn’t hold a candle to his playoff performance, though. Through the first three rounds, Friesen had racked up five goals and nine points in 17 games, but up against his former club in the final, Friesen was outstanding.
In the opening game, Friesen scored twice, including the game-winner minutes into the second period. In Game 2, Friesen was back on the scoresheet with another tally. His best work came in Game 7, though. Midway through the second, after Mike Rupp scored the opening goal 2:22 into the frame, Friesen fired home an insurance marker to stretch the lead and followed that up by icing the contest with his second of the night with four minutes left in the contest. Friesen’s two insurance tallies helped sink the Ducks as the Devils captured the 2003 Cup.
Brendan Shanahan, Detroit Red Wings — 2002 vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Statistics: 5GP, 3G-0A—3 Pts.
Technically, Shanahan never pulled on a Hurricanes jersey at any point in his career, but had the Whalers not shipped him to the Red Wings in 1995-96, after just one season and 76 games with Hartford, maybe he’s putting up points for Carolina and not Detroit in the 2002 final. That wasn’t the case, however, and Shanahan sure made the Hurricanes pay in the worst way possible.
Shanahan had been good throughout the post-season, with five goals and 16 points in 18 games, and his performance had helped the Red Wings get by the star-studded Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference final. However, despite Detroit winning two of the first three games against Carolina, Shanahan was absent from the scoresheet.
He started clicking offensively when the Cup entered the building, though. With Detroit up 1-0 in Game 5, Shanahan notched a power play tally with six minutes remaining in the second period to stretch the Red Wings’ lead to two. And after Jeff O’Neill scored to make the game 2-1, it was Shanahan who sealed the deal for Detroit with an empty-net goal with 45 seconds left in the third. Against the franchise who had traded him five years earlier, Shanahan had come through with both the insurance and Cup-winning tallies.
Larry Murphy, Pittsburgh Penguins — 1991 vs. Minnesota North Stars
Statistics: 6GP, 1G-9A—10 Pts.
In the early-1990s, the Penguins were set to take the next step as an organization and an already all-star cast was looking for another piece to put them over top. That led to quite possibly the best example in league history of a mid-season trade coming back to bite a team, as Minnesota shipped Murphy and Peter Taglianetti to Pittsburgh for Chris Dahlquist and Jim Johnson.
The trade brought the Penguins another offensive blueliner to add to the already impressive attack the squad boasted, and Murphy’s impact was evident early. Despite Murphy playing roughly half the season in Pittsburgh, he posted five goals and 28 points to finish just outside the team’s top-10 scorers. But the trade looked even better when Paul Coffey was forced out of action two games into the second round.
With Coffey out, Murphy stepped into his place and absolutely took over. At the time, he had two goals in eight playoff games, but over the rest of the post-season, Murphy racked up an incredible three goals and 20 points in 15 playoff games. He was never better than he was against the North Stars, though.
Only once in the six-game series did Murphy fail to find the scoresheet and, when the series was tied 2-2, Murphy became an offensive juggernaut. In Game 5, Murphy became the 10th player in league history to register four assists in a single game in the finals, pacing the Penguins to a 6-4 win in the process. Two nights later, in Pittsburgh’s 8-0 dismantling of the North Stars, Murphy found twine for the first time in the series and posted yet another assist. His 10 points in a single final series is the second-most ever by a defender, one point behind Coffey’s 1985 performance with the Edmonton Oilers and Brian Leetch’s magical play for the New York Rangers in the 1994 final.
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