Today was a big day for Game 7s in National Hockey League history with plenty of drama throughout the years. Since we cannot enjoy the drama and excitement of a Game 7 right now, let’s take a trip down memory lane.
You’ve Got to Love Those Game 7s
On April 29, 1978, Lanny McDonald struck in overtime to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders, in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Quarterfinals. The win was the first by a road team in the series as the home teams had won all six games up to that point.
Claude Lemieux was one of the most clutch playoff performers in NHL history. It seemed that whenever his team needed a big goal, he was there to provide it. He started this trend as a rookie on April 29, 1986.
He scored early into overtime to give the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 victory against the Hartford Whalers, in Game 7 of the Adams Division Final. He became the first rookie to ever score an overtime goal in a Game 7. He finished that postseason with 10 goals, including four game-winners, as the Canadiens went on to win the Stanley Cup. His 19 career postseason game-winning goals are tied for the third-most in league history.
Goaltender Ken Wregget became a hero in Philadelphia on April 19, 1989. He was called into duty when starter Ron Hextall was a last-minute scratch, due to injury, for Game 7 of the Patrick Division Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Wregget made 39 saves in a 3-1 win to get the Flyers into the next round. His only blemish was a second-period goal by Mario Lemieux.
On April 29, 1994, Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque became the Boston Bruins’ all-time leader in playoff games played with 146. He scored a goal to lead the Bruins to a 5-3 win over the Canadiens, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
April 29, 1997, saw a trio of memorable Game 7s. In Buffalo, Derek Plante became the first NHL player to score the tying goal in the third period and the series-clinching goal in a Game 7. After drawing the Sabres even with the Ottawa Senators with 6:29 to play, he ends the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals by scoring again in overtime.
Todd Marchant scored the winning goal at 12:26 of overtime, and added an assist, as the Edmonton Oilers won Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals 4-3, at the Dallas Stars.
The final Game 7 that evening was out west as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim won their first playoff series in franchise history by beating the Phoenix Coyotes 3-0. Dave Karpa, Steve Rucchin and Joe Sacco score as Guy Hebert made 31 saves to earn his first-ever postseason shutout.
On April 29, 2002, Chris Drury and Alex Tanguay scored goals 54 seconds apart to lead the Colorado Avalanche to a 4-0 victory over the Kings, in Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Patrick Roy picked up the 21st playoff shutout of his remarkable career.
Ben Bishop took center stage on April 29, 2015, by making 31 saves in the Tampa Lightning’s 2-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round. A pair of defensemen, Braydon Coburn and Anton Stralman, score as the Lightning marched towards their second Eastern Conference title in franchise history.
Odds & Ends
On April 29, 1965, Elmer “Moose” Vasko scored his second career playoff goal (in seven seasons) and Doug Mohns had a goal and an assist in the third period to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 2-1 win over the Canadiens, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Canadiens went on to win Game 7 back in Montreal, two days later. They won all four games played at the Forum in the series by a combined score of 15-2, including three straight shutouts.
Defenseman Pat Stapleton set a Blackhawks’ team record on April 29, 1973, when he assisted on all three of Chicago’s first-period goals in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Unfortunately for him and his team, the Canadiens won the contest 8-3.
On April 29, 1992, the Sabres set a team record with nine goals in a 9-3 win over the Bruins, in Game 6 of the Adams Division Semifinals. Pat LaFontaine led Buffalo in scoring with two goals and two assists.
Dino Ciccarelli became the first player in NHL history to ever score a hat trick for three different teams on April 29, 1993. After scoring hat tricks previously for the Minnesota North Stars and Washington Capitals, he repeats the feat for the Red Wings. He lights the lamp three times on the power play in Detroit’s 7-3 win at the Maple Leafs, in Game 6 of the Norris Division Semifinals.
Later that night, Greg Adams sends the Vancouver Canucks to the Smythe Division Finals with an overtime goal. His second goal of the night, 4:30 into extra time, gave the Canucks a series-clinching 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets, in Game 6 of their series.
The 1994-95 regular season came to an end on April 29, 1995, after the season started late due to a 103-day lockout by owners. The Red Wings clinched the 1995 President’s Cup with 4-2 over the Stars, on the day they retired Sid Abel’s number 12 sweater. They would make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final before being swept by the New Jersey Devils.
Benn Ferriero scored just one Stanley Cup playoff goal in his brief NHL career and it was a big one. On April 29, 2011, his 24th birthday, he scored in overtime to lead to the San Jose Sharks to a 2-1 victory over the Red Wings, in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Winning in overtime was nothing new to the Sharks, at that point, as the fourth of their five playoff wins to come after regulation.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a monster game for the Ottawa Senators on April 29, 2017. His goal in the second overtime was his fourth of the night in a 6-5 victory over the New York Rangers, in Game 2 of their second-round series. His second goal of the night drew the Senators to within one goal with just over three minutes to play. He completed his hat trick by tying the game with just 1:02 left in regulation.
Happy Birthday to You
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is turning 32 today. When he retires, there is no doubt that his number 19 will hang from the United Center rafters. He’s won a Calder, Conn Smythe and Selke Trophy to go along with captaining three Stanley Cup-winning teams. He is sixth in scoring, in Blackhawks’ franchise history, with 815 points and eight with 943 games played.
Other notable players celebrating birthdays today are Serge Bernier (73), Doug Shedden (59), Bruce Driver (58), Jim Benning (57), Curtis Joseph (53), Dan Girardi (36), Brandon Dubinsky (34) and Tristan Jarry (25).