Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 08/03/12 at 12:11 PM ET
Open a discussion on the “greatest” of anything - be it sports, movies or fast cars, and you can always expect a variety of opinions. That’s never more true then when it comes to discussing the greatest NHL games of all times. Just get a few puck fans together and toss that question out there one day; the conversation is sure to get heated and the opinions will be as interesting as they are varied, but you’re sure to emerge a more knowledgeable hockey fan.
In fact, a sports buddy of mine and I were discussing that very topic the other day. The conversation came up while we were shopping the betting lines on a few sports betting sites online, so the competitive spirits we were in set the stage for a good debate. While we couldn’t agree on THE greatest game in National Hockey League history, we did agree on a few classics. Ok, we came up with a bunch, but these were the ones that really dominated our banter.
1936 Stanley Cup Playoffs Montreal Maroons vs. Detroit Red Wings
While yours truly wasn’t around for the marathon Maroons versus Red Wings NHL playoff tilt March 24, 1936, the fact that this is the longest contest in NHL history gets it onto the list. Mud Brunetaeu, who had just been called up to the big leagues two weeks earlier, scored for Detroit in the sixth overtime period giving the Wings a 1-0 win and a 1-0 semi final series lead. This contest lasted a record 176:30 minutes and went well into the morning. Detroit goaltender Normie Smith stopped all 92 shots he faced – that’s a record in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Boston Bruins vs. St Louis Blues Stanley Cup 1970 Final Game
Fast-forward to 1970 Stanley Cup Finals between the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues for another of the greatest NHL games ever. This contest makes the list not only because it was a game to clinch a Stanley Cup Championship but also because it produced one of the most iconic images in hockey history. Show even the most casual sports fan that image and they will tell you that it’s Bruins superstar defensemen Bobby Orr flying through the air after scoring forty seconds into overtime. The series, won 4-0 by the big bad Bruins, isn’t that memorable but Orr’s goal, on Blues goalie Glenn Hall is etched in the minds of hockey fans young and old alike.
Easter Epic New York Islanders vs. Washington Capitals 1986 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Hockey fans were up when the Easter Bunny was making his rounds in the wee hours of Easter Sunday back on April 19, 1897. That’s because the Islanders and Capitals battled into a fourth overtime period during Game 7 of their Patrick Division Semifinal contest. The Capital Center in Landover, Maryland, was still packed to capacity when Islanders superstar Patty LaFontaine scored at the 68:47 mark in overtime. Despite out shooting New York by a 75-57 margin, the Capitals and their fans went home disappointed as the Boys from Long Island won by a 3-2 final score. This contest, at 6 hours and 18 minutes in real time, is still the longest Game 7 in NHL playoff history.
Los Angeles Kings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs 1993 Greatness is Spelled Gretzky
It’s difficult to create a “greatest NHL games ever” list without including a contest that Wayne Gretzky left an indelible mark on. Make that two games as #99 crushed the Leafs in games six and seven of the 1993 Stanley Cup semifinals.
First, down three games to two, and after clipping Doug Gilmore and cutting open his chin (no penalty was called) Gretzky scored in overtime to force a Game 7 back in Toronto. It was then that Gretzky, by his own admission, played the greatest game of his life. In that seventh and deciding game, the Great One scored three goals and added an assist as the Kings went on to a 5-4 victory. That would be the first and last time (until the 2012 NHL playoffs) that Los Angeles would play for Lord Stanley’s mug.
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