Stanley Cup: The magic of Game 7
Few moments evoke more anticipation and emotion from sports fans than this winner-take-all event.
In the NHL, only 14 Stanley Cup finals have come down to a seventh and deciding game.
The Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins will join that exclusive club on Friday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7:30 p.m. ET) when the two teams battle at Joe Louis Arena.
No NHL team has played more Game 7s than the Wings, who are 3-3 in their history.
The good news for Detroit is home teams are an impressive 12-2 during that time. However, the Wings are also one of only two home squads to lose a series in the confines of their own building.
A victory Friday night would secure Detroit's 12th Stanley Cup title and fifth in the last 12 years. Pittsburgh is looking to capture its first championship since 1992.
No matter which club skates around with Lord Stanley's mug, the Penguins and Wings may very well match or eclipse some of the most memorable Game 7s in NHL history.
Detroit 1 at Toronto 3 (1942)
The Maple Leafs completed one of the most remarkable comebacks in sports history. After dropping the first three games to the Red Wings, Toronto looked all but eliminated from the final. However, the resilient Leafs outscored Detroit 16-6 in the next three contests to set up a dramatic final matchup. Trailing 1-0 in the third, Toronto rallied once again with three goals en route to a Stanley Cup celebration at Maple Leafs Gardens. To this day, the Leafs remain the only NHL team to bounce back from a 3-0 deficit in the final to claim hockey's ultimate prize. The New York Islanders managed to equal the Leafs' magical feat in 1975, but their series win over the Pittsburgh Penguins occurred in the second round.
Toronto 2 at Detroit 1 (1945)
Three years after losing in unprecedented fashion, Detroit almost turned the tables on their Canadian foes. After losing the first three games to Toronto, the Wings battled back and appeared to have all the momentum following a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 6 at Maple Leaf Gardens. With home ice on their side, the Detroit fans were ready to see a Cup celebration, but were sent home empty-handed. Tied 1-1 in the third period, Toronto's Babe Pratt scored the game-winning goal on the power play at 12:14, giving the Leafs a second Stanley Cup title in four years. Detroit added to its infamous streak, becoming the first team to lose a Game 7 final at home.
New York Rangers 3 at Detroit 4 (2OT) (1950)
In one of the strangest Stanley Cup finals ever — Games 2 and 3 were played in Toronto because the circus had taken precedence at Madison Square Garden in New York — Detroit managed to overcome the loss of superstar Gordie Howe, who was injured in the first game of the playoffs. The two NHL clubs battled for more than 28 minutes of overtime before American-born Pete Babando ended the thriller at 8:31 of the second extra frame.
Montreal 1 at Detroit 2 (OT) (1954)
Competing in their third straight final against the defending Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens, Detroit seemed destined to lose a second straight year after being outscored 5-1 in Games 5 and 6 to Montreal. That was until the seventh and deciding contest featured one of the most improbable winning goals in Stanley Cup history. Less than five minutes into the overtime, Detroit's Tony Leswick flipped the puck high into the Montreal end before heading to the bench on a line change. Moments later, an unsuspecting Leswick heard the roar of the crowd as Montreal defenceman Doug Harvey attempted to glove the puck, but inadvertently redirected it past goaltender Gerry McNeil. Leswick's goal gave Detroit its first of two consecutive titles before Montreal went on to an unparalleled five-year Cup run.
Montreal 3 at Chicago 2 (1971)
Heavy underdogs prior to the start of the final, the Canadiens promptly lost the first two games to the powerful Blackhawks. But behind the stellar effort of standout rookie goaltender Ken Dryden, the Canadiens forced a Game 7 with a 4-3 victory in Game 6. During the next contest, Henri Richard scored just 2:34 into the third period, giving Montreal a nail-biting 3-2 lead with about 17 minutes left to play. Dryden did the rest, continually denying the desperate Blackhawks to help Montreal raise another Stanley Cup while also earning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. It would be the last time a home team would lose a Game 7 on home ice.
Philadelphia 1 at Edmonton 3 (1987)
Down 3-1, the Philadelphia Flyers put Edmonton's Stanley Cup parade on hold following a pair of one-goal victories, mostly on the brilliant play of playoff MVP goaltender Ron Hextall. Things began well enough for Philly in Game 7 when Murray Craven gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead early in the first. The lead was short-lived: Mark Messier tied the game six minutes later. Jari Kurri then scored what turned out to be the winning goal with 5:01 remaining in the second, taking one of Wayne Gretzky's patented passes and burying it behind Hextall. Glenn Anderson locked up Edmonton's third title in four years with an insurance goal late in the third.
Vancouver 2 at New Rangers 3 (1994)
Like the Flyers before them, the Canucks found themselves in a deep hole, falling behind 3-1 to the Stanley Cup-starved New York Rangers. However, the Canucks responded with two virtuoso performances, outscoring New York 10-4 in the next two games to set the stage for a frantic Game 7. New York jumped to an early 2-0 lead, but the pesky Canucks responded with a goal by captain Trevor Linden. Mark Messier restored the Rangers' two-goal lead, only to see the hobbled Linden, who was playing the last four games with cracked ribs and a torn rib cartilage, bring Vancouver to within a goal early in the third. Canucks forward Nathan LaFayette gave the Madison Square Garden crowd a scare, ringing a shot off the goal post with five minutes remaining. Unfortunately for Vancouver, the Rangers held on to capture their first Stanley Cup title in 54 years.
New Jersey 1 at Colorado 3 (2001)
This final underlined the story of hockey legend Ray Bourque who, after 21 seasons with the Boston Bruins, was traded to Colorado in 2000 with the hope of finally winning a Stanley Cup championship. The Avalanche needed a convincing 4-0 victory in Game 6 at New Jersey in order return the series to Denver and give Bourque one last chance to hoist the Cup. Colorado didn't disappoint, defeating the Devils 3-1 in Game 7. In a classy gesture, Avalanche captain Joe Sakic received the Stanley Cup from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and immediately handed it to the elated Bourque.
Calgary 1 at Tampa Bay 2 (2004)
The Flames let a glorious chance of becoming the first Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup since 1993 slip away when, leading 3-2 in the series, they lost a gut-wrenching 3-2 double overtime contest to the Lightning in Game 6 on home ice. During the nervous seventh game, a pair of Ruslan Fedotenko goals staked Tampa Bay to a 2-0 lead. Craig Conroy brought Calgary back with a power-play goal midway through the third. But goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin slammed the door for the Lightning, making 10 saves in the final period to secure the first championship in franchise history.
Edmonton 1 at Carolina 3 (2006)
The No. 8 seeded Edmonton Oilers began the final on a sour note, losing starting goaltender Dwayne Roloson in Game 1 to an MCL sprain in his right knee. Despite the big loss, the Oilers used backup Jussi Markkanen, whose terrific play helped Edmonton come back from a 3-1 series deficit to the Hurricanes. Stagnant for most of the final game and trailing 2-0, Fernando Pisani gave Oilers fans hope when he notched his 14th playoff goal behind Carolina goaltender Cam Ward at 1:03 into the third period. Yet Ward, the post-season's MVP, held Edmonton in check the rest of the way, and Justin Williams sealed the victory with an empty-net goal.