There have been literally thousands of goals scored, in any number of ways, since the NHL playoffs began in the 1920s. While there is no such thing as a regular goal in the post-season, when every check, shot or save is magnified, a select few have transcended the (extra)ordinary to become part of NHL lore. Here, in our highly subjective opinion, are five of the best.
1. Mario Lemieux, Breakaway goal, Stanley Cup Finals, Game 2, 1991
The Magnificent One was the complete package: Size, strength, speed and unmatched skill. All are on display here, as #66 gathers the puck in his own zone and carves his way past the Minnesota North Stars like a Henckel through an Easter Ham.
2. Darren McCarty, Stanley Cup winner, 1997
A career 127-goal scorer known more for his hard fists than his soft hands, McCarty’s once-in-a-lifetime goal would be the eventual Stanley Cup winner as the Red Wings finally ended a 42-year Stanley Cup drought with a four-game sweep of the Flyers. He hasn’t paid for a Coney Island hot dog in Detroit since.
3. Jonathan Cheechoo, Versus the Colorado Avalanche, 2004
Without question the best playoff goal by a guy hailing from Moose Factory, Ontario: deft stick work, remarkable hand-eye coordination and just the right amount of showmanship.
4. Doug Gilmour, Double OT winner against the St. Louis Blues, 1993
Gilmour’s Game 7 OT winner against his former team stands as the highlight of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ amazing run to what was then the Campbell Conference final. He circles behind the net like a guy looking for mayonnaise in the grocery store before finally doing it himself with a backhand wraparound.
5. Theoren Fleury, Game 6 OT winner against the Edmonton Oilers, 1991
A lot of factors go into making a playoff goal memorable: The situation (tie game, over time, etc.), the skill involved, the rivalry etc. All are on display here, but what elevates this goal to truly great status is the celebration. If Dancing with the Stars ever wants a former NHL star to compete, Fleury’s their man. See also: Bobby Orr flying through the air after scoring the Cup winner in 1970.
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