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The 10 greatest NHL saves of the decade

As breathtaking as a great goal can be, nothing gets fans out of their seats quite like a how-did-he-stop-that save. With the 2010s coming to a close, we take a look at the 10 best saves from the decade that was.

As has been said, variety is the spice of life. In an attempt to showcase that, some of the stops you may have imagined making the cut and landing among the best of the past decade have not.

But that’s not without reason. What we wanted to do here was put on display a selection of the greatest stops and do so without getting redundant. There’s only so many spectacular stick saves one can watch before the novelty wears off. (Trust me. I spent hours watching YouTube highlight reels and by the end of the first half hour, I started to question if it’s skill or dumb luck. A real pre-Christmas Scrooge moment.)

So, without further ado, here are the top-10 saves of the 2010s:

10. Jonathan Quick sweeps the leg – April 5, 2017
One way or another, Quick was going to find his way onto this list. And while he has arguably made better saves throughout the decade, what vaults this one ahead of the rest is that it encapsulates what made Quick so successful during his best seasons. He was Dominik Hasek-esque in his ability to throw his limbs about the crease and make stops, and this is quite possibly one of the most unique saves Quick has made. Bonus points for this not being a matter of Holland simply placing his shot wrong. He put it where he wanted, but Quick tracked it and threw out the leg.

9. Ryan Miller takes away an empty netter – Nov. 10, 2016
Generally speaking, when we talk about “taking away an empty-netter,” we mean that a goaltender is stealing a sure goal when the cage is wide open and he appears to be dead in the water. Not the case here! On this occasion, it’s an honest-to-goodness instance of Ryan Miller taking away an empty-net goal. With time winding down, he was set to depart the crease, but after a turnover put the puck on the stick of the Detroit Red Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg, Miller made the mad dash back to the crease and Supermanned his way onto this list.

8. Applause for Carey Price – Nov. 19, 2018
The confluence of events is what lands this stop on the list. Not only is this a dying-seconds, game-saving save, it’s one of the greatest goaltenders of this generation stealing what was seemingly a surefire game-winning goal off the stick of one of the greatest goal scorers of all-time. And making it just that much better is Alex Ovechkin’s literal applause for Carey Price after the stop. Game recognize game.

7. Tim Thomas paddles away sure goal – May 23, 2011
Story time. In a general NHL discussion thread that existed on a now-defunct message board I frequented at the time of this save, a Vancouver Canucks fan wrote that this save by Thomas was the reason he feared the Boston Bruins advancing to the final. He believed Thomas could steal the 2011 Stanley Cup final from the Canucks, who were odds-on favorites. Turns out that was prescient. The Bruins rode Thomas, who posted the highest single-series save percentage (.967) of any goaltender to play more than four games in a Stanley Cup final, to the NHL crown. That’s also the highest SP of any goaltender to play all seven games of a seven-game series.

6. Karri Ramo flashes leather and stuns Rangers – Feb. 24, 2015
There were plenty of glove stops that could have made the list, but Ramo’s was among the most special for a couple reasons. First, this wasn’t a dumb-luck reach for the puck. If you watch, you can see Ramo locate and get his eyes on the puck before he sticks out the glove. Second, he pulls this one basically off the goal line. Had his glove been positioned a few inches back, there’s a chance this crosses the line while in his mitt. But nope. No dice.

5. Jake Allen says Da-NO! – Nov. 14, 2015
When deciding which stops should make the list, there was some consideration given to moments where everyone was fooled into thinking a goal had been scored. And that’s why this stop by Allen is in the top five. The Blackhawks – including Dano, who was standing right there – thought this was in. The St. Louis Blues’ broadcast team thought it was in. The only person who knew for certain that it didn’t cross the line, for at least a split second, was Allen. He stopped it by a hair, but he stopped it.

4. Henrik Lundqvist throws out his heel – Jan. 11, 2016
He’s one of the best goaltenders of the decade and you had to know he was going to land on the list somewhere. This stop on Max Talbot is one of Lundqvist’s best. After going down into the butterfly, Lundqvist has to plant, change direction and then twist his leg into an inhuman position to get a couple inches of heel on the shot. Outstanding.

3. Andrei Vasilevskiy goes behind the back – Feb. 10, 2018
It was a personal feeling that open play is all that should be considered for this list, thus Vasilevskiy’s behind-the-back shootout save wasn’t included here. But that’s OK, because Vasilevskiy was kind enough to make a pair of these stops in near successive games. It was only two weeks before his shootout save that Vasilevskiy threw his hat in the ring for save of the 2017-18 season with a behind-the-back effort that robbed Anze Kopitar.

2. Kari Lehtonen fools everyone – Jan. 28, 2013
Here’s your reminder that some extra value was given to those stops that tricked everyone in the building. This is one of those saves. It also gets included one spot ahead of Vasilevskiy’s behind-the-back stop because Lehtonen contorts himself like a Cirque de Soleil acrobat after he locates a fluttering puck that is perilously close to crossing the goal line. This isn’t a look-what-I-found moment. He knew what he was doing and literally picks this one out of the air backhanded. He had the Columbus Blue Jackets, including shooter Jack Johnson, completely fooled.

1. “The Save” – May 30, 2018
This one has everything. It’s a reach-back stick save. It’s in the Stanley Cup final. And it may have very well changed the trajectory of the series. The Vegas Golden Knights won Game 1 of the series and would have likely sent Game 2 to overtime had Holtby not gotten his paddle down. If that happens and Vegas wins Game 2 in the extra frame, maybe we don’t get the Washington Capitals’ summer of celebration. After all, home teams that go up 2-0 in the post-season have won 89.3 percent of all NHL post-season series, according to Hockey-Reference.

But Holtby did get his paddle down. He did make the save. And the Capitals did win the Stanley Cup, with Holtby’s stop arguably acting as the series-changing moment. Best of the decade. No question.

Over the next two weeks, The Hockey News will be wrapping up the 2010s with a look back at the best – and worst – of the decade. Find more here.

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