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17 ICONIC MOMENTS IN NHL HISTORY

AS THE LEAGUE CELEBRATES ITS CENTENNIAL, SI LOOKS BACK AT THE MOST THRILLING, RECORD-SETTING, MEMORABLE AND MOMENTOUS EVENTS OF HOCKEY'S LAST CENTURY
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1 A SCORE FOR NUMBER 4

MAY 10, 1970

If only for a moment, the defenseman who could do everything could even fly. Through the first three games of the 1970 Stanley Cup finals, the Bruins had no trouble handling the Blues, outscoring the expansion team 16--4. But at the end of regulation in Game 4, the score was 3--3. Just 40 seconds into overtime, however, Boston blueliner Bobby Orr cut to the net on a give-and-go with center Derek Sanderson. As he skated through Glenn Hall's crease, Orr deflected the pass in and sealed the Bruins' first Stanley Cup in 29 years. What makes the fateful goal famous, though, is the photograph (above). Blues defenseman Noel Picard tripped Orr just as the puck entered the net. Raising his arms in celebration, horizontal above the ice, Orr was immortalized by photographer Ray Lussier: Superman.

2 THE TRADE

AUG. 9, 1988

"I promised [Mark Messier] I wouldn't do this," Wayne Gretzky (below) said, as he dried his eyes. The game's greatest player sat before the media and cried. Edmonton had traded the Great One in the prime of his career, along with Mike Krushelnyski and Marty McSorley, to Los Angeles for Jimmy Carson and Martin Gelinas, three first-round picks and $15 million. The deal marked a turning point for the game in two countries. In Canada the outrage was so great that one member of parliament urged the government to block the trade; in the U.S., Gretzky brought West Coast hockey into the mainstream.

3 THE GUARANTEE

MAY 25, 1994

"We will win tonight," Rangers captain Mark Messier told reporters before Game 6 of the 1994 Eastern Conference finals. Messier, a player so synonymous with leadership that the NHL eventually created the Mark Messier Leadership Award, was simply trying to inspire his teammates, but in a town that still remembered Joe Namath's Super Bowl guarantee in 1969, his statement caused quite a stir. With New York down 2--1 to the Devils late in the game, Messier made good on his promise, scoring a hat trick in the third period. The Rangers would go on to win a memorable Game 7—"Matteau! Matteau!"—and their first Stanley Cup in 54 years.

4 NIFTY 50

DEC. 30, 1981

Gretzky had 74 seconds and an open net to make another of his many marks on history. He had entered the game, against the Flyers, his 39th of the season, with 45 goals, so there was little doubt he would eclipse the 50-goals-in-50-games milestones of Montreal's Maurice Richard in 1944--45 and the Islanders' Mike Bossy in '80--81. Against Philadelphia, Gretzky scored four times in the first 45 minutes. For his final flourish Gretzky pulled out all of his tricks. He grabbed the puck behind the red line, shot and missed. He tried a backhand from outside the blue line, only to have center Ken Linseman knock the puck away. Finally, with 10 seconds left, Gretzky took a pass from Glenn Anderson and slid the puck in from 45 feet out. Number 50 was his. "It was a combination of disbelief and euphoria," Gretzky said. "Thank goodness I did it."

5 HOWE'S CURTAIN CALL

FEB. 5, 1980

Depending on the source, the ovation amongst the 21,002 fans at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena—then the largest crowd ever for a hockey game—went on for two-and-a-half minutes or the whole night. The inspiration, skating in small circles on the blue line, didn't know how to respond. "I felt like climbing into a hole," said 51-year-old Gordie Howe, playing in his 23rd and final All-Star Game, in the city where he became a legend. "It was so embarrassing."

Though it was an All-Star Game—incidentally, Gretzky's first—the evening was in essence a farewell to Mr. Hockey. The last of the players to be announced, Howe skated onto the ice to chants of "Gor-die, Gor-die, Gor-die!" that paused only for the Canadian and American anthems.

6 MASKING AGENT

NOV. 1, 1959

Injured by a shot to the face in the first period against the Rangers, Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante (below) was rushed off the ice, leaving a trail of blood behind him. He returned 21 minutes later, stitched up and wearing a mask he had used only in practice. Montreal coach Toe Blake didn't care for the look, but Plante insisted on wearing it, and the Canadiens won 3--1.

Blake thought the goalie would wear the mask for only one game, but after Plante won the Vezina Trophy and helped Montreal capture the Stanley Cup while wearing it, the goalie mask was here to stay.

7 FIVE GOALS, FIVE WAYS

DEC. 31, 1988

All Mario Lemieux had to do was lift the puck over the stick of New Jersey defenseman Tom Kurvers and into the empty net. It would be his easiest goal of the night—and, according to some accounts, one that crossed the goal line after the horn sounded—and a groundbreaking one. It was his fifth goal, each recorded in a different way. He had scored shorthanded, on a power play, at even strength and on a penalty shot. Lemieux had eight points in Pittsburgh's 8--6 victory, and he became the first and only NHLer to score in five different ways in a single game—the Lemieux Cycle.

8 BIRTH OF THE ALL-STAR GAME

FEB. 14, 1934

Toronto winger Ace Bailey, in a suit, met Boston's Eddie Shore, in his uniform, at center ice at Maple Leaf Gardens. "Hello, Ace," Shore said, extending his palm. "Hello, Eddie," Bailey replied. The two shook hands in an act of forgiveness for what had occured two months earlier. Tripped from behind by Shore, Bailey was knocked unconscious. The Maple Leafs decided to host a benefit game for their sidelined winger, which raised $21,000 for his recovery. The game, which pitted the Leafs—in sweaters with ace across the chest—against a mix of stars from the eight other clubs, was won by Toronto 7--3 and is considered the first All-Star Game.

9 UNBROKEN BAUN

APRIL 23, 1964

Punch Imlach, a Hall of Fame coach with four championships, can't take credit for every success of his Maple Leafs. Just 1:43 into overtime of Game 6 of the 1964 Stanley Cup finals, Toronto defenseman Bob Baun scored. It was an improbable goal, not only because the blueliner had scored just four all season but also because minutes earlier, Baun had been carried off on a stretcher after blocking a shot off his ankle and fracturing it. Imlach figured Baun was out for the night.

After the game Imlach said, "In the overtime I was going down the bench, and all of a sudden I saw Baun on the ice. I didn't tell him to go."

Two days later the Leafs won their third straight Cup—with Baun (and his broken ankle) again in the lineup. The city's ensuing celebration was immense, but one hero was absent. Though a bum ankle couldn't keep him off the ice, Baun decided to sit out the parade.

10 COMEBACK KIDS I

APRIL 12, 1942

The final moments of the Maple Leafs' 4--3 victory over the Red Wings in Game 4 of the 1942 Stanley Cup finals dissolved into chaos—peanuts and a woman's shoe were thrown onto the ice, and Detroit coach Jack Adams took a few swings at referee Mel Harwood. Toronto had staved off elimination with the victory and so began the biggest comeback in league history.

The Leafs would rout Detroit two days later 9--3. After another Red Wings loss—this one featured ice-bound orange peels and pickerel—Detroit held a 1--0 lead with 12:13 left in the third period of Game 7. But Toronto rallied with three goals to become the first—and still only—team to win the Cup finals (top) out of a three-game hole.

11 COMEBACK KIDS II

APRIL 10, 1982

Jerry Buss had seen enough. The Kings' owner decided that a 5--0 deficit against the Oilers in Game 3 of the Smythe Division semis was too much. So even though he saw his Kings score early in the third, he still left for his home in Palm Springs, Calif.

What Buss missed in the ensuing hour was the greatest single period comeback in playoff history. L.A., inspired in part by laughter from the Oilers' bench, netted four more goals in the third, including the tying score with five seconds left. In overtime left wing Daryl Evans rocketed the puck past goalie Grant Fuhr off a draw and pirouetted down the Forum ice, his teammates jumping on him in jubilation. The Kings went on to advance in five games. "It seemed like I was skating on air," Evans said in 2007. "I was in a state I had never been in and probably never will be in again."

12 HAT TRICKS OF THE TRADE

MAY 4, 2009

Going one-on-one against a defender at the top of the slot, Capitals winger Alexander Ovechkin (in red, center) ripped a wrist shot past Pittsburgh goalie Marc-André Fleury with less than five minutes to go in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and the hats came raining down at the Verizon Center as Washington took a 4--2 lead. But the chapeau shower wasn't over. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, Ovechkin's rival, answered back, completing a hat trick of his own with 31 seconds left in the game. In the first playoff matchup between the league's marquee stars, Washington won the game 4--3, but Pittsburgh took the series in seven. The Penguins went on to win their first Cup since 1992.

13 COACH'S DECISION

APRIL 7, 1928

In a scoreless Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Montreal Maroons, the Rangers lost goalie Lorne Chabot after he took a shot to the eye. New York did not have a backup, so coach Lester Patrick tried to recruit Ottawa star netminder Alec Connell from the stands, but the Maroons vetoed the idea. Instead Patrick, a retired defenseman, strapped on pads and took the ice.

Patrick, 44, allowed just one goal during regulation. When the Rangers won in overtime 2--1, they carried their coach off the ice. Patrick immediately reretired, and the Rangers went on to win the Cup in five games.

14 TOO MANY MEN

MAY 10, 1979

The Bruins were leading the Canadiens 4--3 with 2:34 left in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup semifinal when linesman John D'Amico raised his arm. There were six Boston skaters on the ice—or maybe seven. And they were out there for 14 seconds—or maybe it was 30. Whatever it was, there were too many Bruins on the ice. Taking advantage of the most famous penalty in NHL history, Montreal scored on the power play, and again in overtime, to reach the Finals, where they would win their fourth straight title, four games to one, over the Rangers.

15 STILL ONE OF THEM

JUNE 16, 1998

Detroit captain Steve Yzerman waited for the wheelchair at center ice. Before Lord Stanley's Cup made the rounds at the MCI Arena in Washington, D.C., Yzerman first put it in the hands of 31-year-old Vladimir Konstantinov. A year earlier Konstantinov, part of the famed Russian Five that delivered Detroit its first championship since the 1950s, was paralyzed in a limousine crash shortly after the 1997 Cup victory. The Red Wings preserved the defenseman's locker throughout the following season and gave him the first victory lap with the Cup, as his old defense partner Viacheslav Fetisov pushed him around the ice. At season's end Konstantinov had his name engraved on the trophy a second time.

16 BLAME CANADA

DEC. 2, 1995

The Montreal crowd rejoiced, and goalie Patrick Roy raised his arms in recognition. Not all too unusual at the Forum, but on this night both gestures were sarcastic. Roy had just deflected a 60-foot bouncer after allowing the Red Wings seven goals in 24 minutes. When Roy (above) gave up a ninth score later that period, coach Mario Tremblay finally pulled him. Before taking a seat, Roy—enraged he hadn't been relieved earlier—brushed past Tremblay en route to confronting team president Ronald Corey, who was sitting in the first row. Roy leaned over the partition and told him he had played his last game for the Canadiens. Corey traded Roy to Colorado four days later.

17 PHANTOM PUCK

JUNE 9, 2010

The drought was over, though no one but Patrick Kane knew it. When the shifty Blackhawks winger fired a sharp-angled shot at Philadelphia's Michael Leighton in overtime of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals, the puck slipped through the goalie's pads and disappeared, wedged under the inner apron of the Flyers' net. Many in the Wells Fargo Center were confused, but not Kane, who zipped around the net, tossed off his gloves and skated up the ice. "I wanted to let the guys know it was O.K. to start the celebration," he said afterward. Celebrate they did, as the Blackhawks won their first Cup in 49 years.

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