Epic proportions
By Jeff Merron
Page 2 staff

NHL playoff hockey. Sudden-death overtime. Sometimes, slow-death overtime. Nothing like it. Lots of great playoff games have gone long. So we give you the best of the overtime drama from the NHL playoffs.

1. Detroit Red Wings 1, Montreal Maroons 0 (Stanley Cup semifinals, Game 2, March 24, 1936, six OTs)
Rookie Moderre "Mud" Bruneteau had scored only two goals during the regular season, but he came through when it counted, picking up a loose puck behind Montreal's defensemen and shooting it past Maroons goalie Lorne Chabot at 16:30 of the sixth overtime period. That ended the longest game in NHL history, at 2:25 a.m.

"Thank God," said Bruneteau. "Chabot fell down as I drove it in the net. It's the funniest thing. The puck just stuck there in the twine and didn't fall on the ice." Mud, the youngest player in the game, would play 11 seasons with Detroit and sip from three Stanley Cup winners in the process.

Brian Boucher
Boucher and the Flyers got the better of their cross-state rivals.

2. Philadelphia Flyers 2, Pittsburgh Penguins 1 (East semifinals, Game 4, May 4, 2000, five OTs)
This one was a treat for insomniacs, who could have turned on the tube at midnight and still caught four or five periods of great hockey. The game started on May 4. It ended about seven hours later, at 2:35 a.m. on May 5. In between, the Pennsylvania rivals played 2 1/2 games -- 60 minutes of regular time and 87 minutes of overtime -- of riveting, often thrilling, hockey, with the Flyers Keith Primeau scoring the game winner to tie the series at two games apiece.

The third-longest game in NHL history left players on both teams exhausted, sometimes looking like they were moving in slow motion. Penguins right winger Alexei Kovalev, for example, said his regular moves just didn't work as the game went into the wee hours. "Every move you do is not going to work, because nobody reacts to your moves anymore."

Jaromir Jagr, who lost seven pounds after logging 59 minutes of ice time, said, "You don't even know you're playing hockey. That's the way it is. You're skating, [but] sometimes it doesn't look like you're skating. You don't even think."

3. N.Y. Islanders 4, Philadelphia Flyers 3 (Stanley Cup finals, Game 6, May 24, 1980, one OT)
The Islanders came into the Stanley Cup finals with a reputation as chokers. In the third period of Game 6, it looked like the label fit -- the Islanders, with a three games to two series edge and a 4-2 lead in the game, gave up third-period goals to Bob Dailey and John Paddock, which sent the game into overtime. And the goals also set the Flyers lips to flapping some on-ice trash talk about choking.

But a return to Philadelphia for a seventh and deciding game was not what the Isles had in mind. Bob Nystrom scored at 7 minutes and 11 seconds of OT to give the Islanders the game and the Stanley Cup. "It was the second time tonight John Tonelli laid a perfect pass on my stick, and all I had to do was tap it in," said Nystrom. "Then the players were on me so fast I didn't have time to think."

Said Dennis Potvin, "The media can take that choke label and shove it."

4. Detroit Red Wings 4, New York Rangers 3 (Stanley Cup finals, Game 7, April 23, 1950, two OTs)
It was a long road trip for the Rangers, who were forced to play the entire Stanley Cup finals in Detroit, because the circus had taken over Madison Square Garden. In the second overtime period of the seventh game of a thrilling series, the Rangers' Dunc Fisher had Wings goalie Harry Lumley beat on a breakaway shot, but the puck hit the post. Moments later, Detroit's Pete Babando, who had scored only six goals in the regular season, took a pass from George Gee and slammed it past Ranger goalie Chuck Rayner for the game -- and Cup -- winner at 8:31 of the second OT period.

Brett Hull, Dominik Hasek
First the Bills, then the Sabres -- is this town cursed or what?
"He let a low shot go at the point that went through a maze of bodies and nicked the shinpad of Frank Eddolls, our defenseman," said Rayner. "The puck barely caught the corner. I never seen it until it was in the net." Not long ago, Rayner voiced his continuing regrets. "To this day, I still wake up thinking how close we came to the Cup that year. What a shame that was. Just one goal and there never would have been a 54-year drought."

5. Dallas Stars 2, Buffalo Sabres 1 (Stanley Cup finals, Game 6, June 20, 1999, three OTs)
With 5:09 remaining in the third OT, Brett Hull, with his foot in the crease, scored the Cup-winner for Dallas. Lots of folks thought the goal illegal -- including plenty of Sabres. "Everybody is going to remember this as the Stanley Cup that was never won -- it was given away," said Joe Juneau. "The goal was not a legal goal. It's cheating, you know? It's not a loss. The game is not over, it's just not. They just decided to end it." It was the second-longest game in the history of the tanley Cup finals.

6. Pittsburgh Penguins 3, Washington Capitals 2 (East quarterfinals, Game 4, April 24, 1996, four OTs)
Mario Lemieux was ejected for slashing and fighting. The Caps got a penalty shot in the second OT period -- and Joe Juneau missed it. Penguins goalie Ken Wregget came in to replace the injured Tom Barrasso and made 53 saves. Caps goalie Olie Kolzig stopped 62 shots. The fifth-longest game in NHL history -- the Pens won on a Petr Nedved goal with 45 seconds left in the fourth OT to knot the series at two -- had everything fans, and players, could want. "It was exciting and fun to play in that game," said the Caps Peter Bondra, who had scored a goal on a power play. "It was a game with a bad end for us, but we are winners. We all did all we could to win, and then just one shot Both teams should get a win for that game."

7. Montreal Canadiens 5, Boston Bruins 4 (Prince of Wales Conference finals, Game 7, May 10, 1979, one OT)
The famed "too many men on the ice" game. The Bruins took a 4-3 lead on a Rick Middleton goal with four minutes remaining in the third period. But then Boston (in Don Cherry's last game as a coach) was penalized for having too many men on the ice, and Guy Lafleur scored on the ensuing power play -- with only 74 seconds remaining -- to send the game into OT. At 9:33 of the extra period, Yvon Lambert took a perfect Mario Tremblay pass and converted it for victory that sent the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup finals, which they would win for the fourth year in a row. To this day, Cherry refuses to name the player who wasn't supposed to be on the ice.

"This was only the eighth time a seventh game had gone into overtime, resulting in almost unbearable tension," wrote Robert Fachet in the Washington Post. "If anyone is maintaining a list of the 10 most exciting hockey games ever played, it may be due for some revision."

8. L.A. Kings 6, Edmonton Oilers 5 (Smythe Division semifinals, Game 3, April 10, 1982, one OT)
In the "Miracle On Manchester," the Oilers led 5-0 after two periods, thanks largely to Wayne Gretzky, who scored twice and added two assists. But in the third period, the lowly Kings -- they'd finished the season with a 24-41-15 record -- caught fire, scoring five goals, including one with five seconds left, to send the game into OT. Kings rookie Daryl Evans then beat Oilers goalie Grant Fuhr on a 30-foot shot at 2:35 of OT for the game winner. The Kings had taken a 2 games to 1 lead in the best-of-five series. "I don't know what to say," Gretzky said of the Oilers' collapse. "We didn't play hard all three periods." The Kings went on to win the series.

9. N.Y. Islanders 3, Washington Capitals 2 (Patrick Division semifinals, Game 7, April 18, 1987, four OTs)
The Caps had the home ice advantage --a loud, sellout crowd of 18,130 -- and came out firing, outshooting the Islanders by a large margin. But New York goalie Kelly Hrudey proved a tremendous barrier, and kept the Islanders in the game as Bryan Trottier scored on a backhander with 5:22 left in the third period to send the 2-2 game into OT. At 1:57 a.m., about seven hours after the opening faceoff and after 68:47 of OT play, the Islanders Pat LaFontaine slipped one past screened Caps goalie Bob Mason for the game winner. At the time, it was the fifth-longest game in NHL history.

Bobby Orr
Bobby Orr made quick work out of the Blues.
"I don't feel the usual elation from a victory," said Hrudey. "As the night went on, I didn't even know the velocity of the shots anymore; I was too tired to have any emotion. It gets to the point where your body doesn't feel anything and your mind plays the game. It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing."

10. Boston Bruins 4, St. Louis Blues 3 (Stanley Cup finals, Game 4, 1970, one OT)
Bobby Orr scored 40 seconds into OT to complete the Bruins sweep. Moments after the game-winner went past Blues goalie Glenn Hall, Orr, after being tripped up by the Blues Noel Picard, was caught on film, flying through the air -- frozen in time as hockey's version of Superman in one of the most famous sports photos of all time.


Jeff Merron Archive

The List: Biggest chokes in Stanley Cup history

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