Ranking the Best Goals So Far in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Some of the best were scored in overtime. One marked a milestone achievement. Another was the last hurrah of a great star. Two promising rookies tallied their first-ever postseason goals. And many were the result of great individual performances.
On the eve of the Stanley Cup Final, you can relive the cream-of-the-crop goals by watching the following videos. I've saved the best for last. Enjoy the footage, and feel free to offer up your opinion or favorites in the comments section.
20. Teemu Selanne's Last Goal
Date: May 8, 2014.
Series: Game 3 of the Pacific Division Final between the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.
Game Situation: 15:10 into the second period, game tied at one, Ducks on a power play.
The Goal: Ducks forward Nick Bonino carried the puck into the Kings zone on a two-on-one with Selanne. Spotting Selanne streaking to the net, Bonino feathered a touch pass to the veteran winger, who made no mistake with an easy tip-in.
No one knew it at the time, but this ended up being Selanne's final NHL goal. The Ducks would eventually fall to the Kings in seven games. NHL.com reports Selanne will retire after 21 remarkable NHL seasons. His goal in Game 3 of this series capped a long, successful career.
19. Brian Gibbons' Short-Handed Goal Against the Blue Jackets
Date: April 19, 2014.
Series: Game 2 of the division semifinals between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Game Situation: 4:24 into the first period, Penguins lead 1-0.
The Goal: With the Penguins killing a penalty, defenseman Paul Martin fired the puck from behind his own net out into the center-ice area. Penguins forward Brian Gibbons anticipated the play and hustled out of his zone in pursuit of the puck. He outraced Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski and collected the puck just outside the Jackets blue line. Gibbons streaked in on goal, deked Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and slid the puck under the sprawling netminder to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead.
Scoring in a short-handed situation is never easy, especially in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The speed and skill displayed by Gibbons in a penalty-killing situation has been the best short-handed tally of this postseason so far.
18. Reilly Smith's Screen Shot Against The Canadiens
Date: May 1, 2014.
Series: Game 1 of the Atlantic Division Final between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens.
Game Situation: 2:44 into the third period, Canadiens lead 2-0.
The Goal: Reilly Smith missed a pass from Brad Marchand but recovered it off the side boards. Though covered by Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov, Smith snapped a wrist shot through Markov's legs, also passing between the legs of teammate Patrice Bergeron and over the left shoulder of a screened Carey Price.
While Smith had a bit of luck going for him with that goal, his brief look-away before taking the shot fooled Markov, creating the opportunity for the screen in front of Price. Even more remarkable was that the shot never deflected off anyone before entering the net. The Bruins lost this game in overtime, but Smith's screen-shot goal was a dandy.
17. Marian Gaborik Sets an NHL Record
Date: May 3, 2014.
Series: Game 1 of the Pacific Division Final between the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.
Game Situation: 12:07 into overtime, game tied 2-2.
The Goal: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty intercepted a clearing attempt by the Ducks along the boards. He passed the puck into the center of the zone to teammate Anze Kopitar, who fired a hard pass to Gaborik streaking toward the net. His deflection hit the right post, then bounced off the back of Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller into the net.
Gaborik sent the game to overtime with less than 10 seconds remaining in the third period. According to the Elias Sports Bureau (h/t NBC Sports' Ryan Dadoun), it was the first time in NHL postseason history that a player scored the tying goal with less than 10 second in regulation followed by tallying the overtime winner.
16. Martin St. Louis' Overtime Goal Against the Canadiens
Date: May 25, 2014.
Series: Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers.
Game Situation: 6:02 into overtime, game tied 2-2.
The Goal: As the Canadiens attempted to clear their zone, Rangers forward Carl Hagelin intercepted it. He then fired a cross-ice pass to a wide-open Martin St. Louis. The veteran winger fired a wrist shot over goalie Dustin Tokarski's left shoulder for the game-winner.
It's been an emotional playoff for St. Louis, whose mother passed away during the Rangers' Metropolitan Division Final matchup against Pittsburgh. While he scored an emotional goal on Mother's Day in that series, this goal gave the Rangers a 3-1 series lead. They went on to eliminate the Canadiens in six games.
15. Nino Niederreiter's Series Winner Against the Avalanche
Date: April 30, 2014.
Series: Game 7 of the division semifinals between the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild.
Game Situation: 5:02 into overtime, tied at four.
The Goal: Nino Niederreiter and Kyle Brodziak skated into the Avalanche zone on a two-on-one break. Niederreiter faked a look at Brodziak as though intending to pass, then roofed a wrist shot over the glove of a startled Semyon Varlamov for the series-winner.
The speed of an NHL game often hides how effectively a subtle move can lead to a goal. Niederreiter looking toward Brodziak fooled Varlamov into anticipating a pass. The quick shot caught the Avalanche goalie by surprise.
14. Erik Haula Goes End to End Against the Blackhawks
Date: May 11, 2014.
Series: Game 5 of the Central Division Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild.
Game Situation: 16:33 into the first period, no score.
The Goal: Taking a pass deep in his own zone, Erik Haula slipped away from Patrick Kane just outside the Minnesota blue line. He evaded Duncan Keith, sped into the Chicago zone and ripped a shot at the Blackhawks net. Corey Crawford made the save but couldn't control the rebound. The puck rolled to the speedy Haula, whose backhander struck Crawford's left pad, bounced into the air and landed in the net.
Though the Wild lost this game 2-1, Haula's goal was a superb demonstration of speed and skill. It was the 23-year-old's third goal of the playoffs. He finished with four goals and seven points in 13 playoff games. A fine playoff debut for a promising young forward.
13. Ryan Getzlaf Dances with the Stars
Date: April 18, 2014.
Series: Game 2 of the division semifinals between the Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars.
Game Situation: 17:14 into the first period, Stars lead 1-0.
The Goal: As Stars winger Erik Cole attempted to clear his zone, Ryan Getzlaf blocked it near the blue line. The Ducks captain evaded Cole, stick-handled in on the Stars net and roofed the puck over the left shoulder of goaltender Kari Lehtonen, tying the game 1-1 late in the first.
Getzlaf's goal sparked the Ducks to a 3-2 victory. Making this goal more notable was that Getzlaf wore a face shield due to facial injuries he suffered in Game 1. He overcame the pain to lead the Ducks in postseason scoring. Of Getzlaf's four goals, this one was a fine display of skill and tenacity.
12. Jakub Voracek Scores Against the Rangers
Date: April 20, 2014.
Series: Game 2 of the division semifinals between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers.
Game Situation: 14:14 into the first period, Rangers lead 2-0.
The Goal: Steaming down the right wing, Jakub Voracek collected a flip pass from a teammate near the Rangers blue line. Voracek raced into the zone, powered around Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, cut across the front of the net and squeezed the puck between the outstretched right pad of Henrik Lundqvist and the right post.
The goal sparked a Flyers comeback, as they went on to down the Rangers 4-2 and tie the series at a game apiece. That rally wouldn't have been possible without Voracek's highlight-reel goal. Though the Flyers ultimately fell in seven games to the Rangers, this goal is a worthy reminder of that well-contested series.
11. P.K. Subban's Breakaway Against the Bruins
Date: May 6, 2014.
Series: Game 3 of the Atlantic Division Final between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens.
Game Situation: 14:44 into the first period, Canadiens lead 1-0.
The Goal: The Canadiens had just killed off a penalty to P.K. Subban. Lars Eller spotted Subban emerging from the penalty box and lifted a perfect pass to the blueliner, who was now behind the Bruins defensemen. Taking the pass at the Bruins blue line, Subban raced in on goal. He faked to his left, dropping goalie Tuukka Rask to the ice, then shifted to his right and buried the puck behind the helpless Rask.
Subban scored other notable goals in this year's playoffs, mostly with his big shot from the point. This one, however, demonstrated his explosive speed and puck-handling skills. The Canadiens went on to win Game 3 and eventually upset the favored Bruins in seven games.
10. Jeff Carter's Rush Against the Ducks
Date: May 16, 2014.
Series: Game 7 of the Pacific Division Final between the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.
Game Situation: 8:48 into the first period, Kings lead 1-0.
The Goal: Jeff Carter picked up an attempted pass from teammate Marian Gaborik at center ice. Muscling his way past defenseman Hampus Lindholm at the Anaheim blue line, Carter burst in on the Ducks net. He shifted quickly to his left and backhanded the puck over the right pad of John Gibson to give the Kings a 2-0 lead. The Kings would go on to win the game 6-2 and the series.
Carter's always been known for his scoring touch and puck-handling skills, but his speed and strength are sometimes overlooked. All his offensive gifts were on display with this goal. It's no surprise he's second overall to teammates Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik in points and goals, respectively, this spring.
9. Pavel Datsyuk's Game-Winner Against the Bruins
Date: April 18, 2014
Series: Game 1 of the division semifinals between the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings.
Game Situation: 16:59 into the third in a scoreless tie.
The Goal: Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk reached back with one hand on his stick to take a pass from Johan Franzen, dragging the puck up between his legs and ahead of him into the center-ice zone. Datsyuk gathered the puck on his backhand, then cut to his left across the Bruins zone. Shifting the puck to his forehand, Datsyuk rifled a wrist shot through traffic to beat Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask on his glove side.
Datsyuk's goal proved to be the game-winner, but it would be the only one for the Wings in this series. Making this goal more impressive was the fact that Datsyuk played on an injured knee. It was a fine display of his offensive skills and ability to play through pain. Datsyuk finished the series as Detroit's leading scorer with three goals and five points.
8. Evgeni Malkin Splits the Rangers Defense
Date: May 9, 2014
Series: Game 5 of the Metropolitan Division Final between the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Game Situation: 3:23 into the second period, Rangers lead 2-0.
The Goal: Approaching the Rangers blue line, Evgeni Malkin faced Rangers veteran defensemen Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. Malkin bulled his way between the two and fired a shot on goal. Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist made a left pad save, but the rebound returned to Malkin, who whirled from the left side of the net and fired the puck past the sprawling Lundqvist.
It proved to be the only goal of the game for the Penguins, who went on to lose 5-1. They also dropped the next two and were eliminated by the Rangers in seven games. Despite leading the Penguins in points (14), Malkin received some criticism over his performance in this series. This remarkable goal indicates his effort was better than his critics perceived.
7. T.J. Oshie Scores from His Knees
Date: April 25, 2014.
Series: Game 5 of the division semifinals between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues.
Game Situation: 11:04 into the second period, Blackhawks lead 1-0.
The Goal: Blues forward Alex Steen gained the Chicago zone, drawing two Blackhawks checkers toward him. Wheeling, Steen passed to T.J. Oshie breaking in from right wing. Oshie darted to his left to avoid a Blackhawks defenseman but lost his balance. Falling to his knees, Oshie regained control of the puck. Sliding past the Chicago goal, he fired a backhander past Corey Crawford to tie the game.
Oshie's efforts ultimately were in vain, as the Blues lost in overtime. They were subsequently eliminated in the next game. Still, one has to admire Oshie's determination and skill. He never quit on the play, tallying a goal when it seemed as though he was out of scoring position.
6. Nathan MacKinnon's First Playoff Goal
Date: April 19, 2014.
Series: Game 2 of the division semifinals between the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild.
Game Situation: 6:20 into the first period, Wild lead 1-0.
The Goal: Nathan MacKinnon collected a pass in his own zone, dashed around Wild center Mikko Koivu at the Avalanche blue line and raced up ice. Facing two defensemen as he crossed the Wild blue line, MacKinnon quickly darted to his right, sending one of the defenders tumbling out of position. With a clear shot at the net, MacKinnon wired a high wrist shot past Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to tie the game. The Avalanche would go on to win 4-2.
It was MacKinnon's first career NHL playoff goal. Coming off a regular season in which he led all NHL rookies in points, this goal served notice the 18-year-old would also be a postseason force. Though the Avalanche would eventually fall in seven games to the Wild, MacKinnon finished the series tied among the playoff scoring leaders up to that point. A most impressive playoff debut for a superstar in the making.
5. Rene Bourque Splits the Lightning Defense
Date: April 18, 2014.
Series: Game 2 of the division semifinals between the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Game Situation: 10:35 into the second period, Canadiens lead 1-0.
The Goal: Taking a pass at center ice from Thomas Vanek, Rene Bourque swiftly gained the Lightning zone, then cut between defensemen Sami Salo and Eric Brewer. Powering around Salo, Bourque moved the puck quickly from his backhand to his forehand and, seeing goalie Anders Lindback attempting a poke check, chipped it past the sprawling goaltender into the net.
This goal was the first of eight goals in 17 games for Bourque in this year's playoffs, leading the Habs in that category. Of those goals, this splendid individual effort was his best. It was also the game-winner, as the Habs downed the Lightning 4-1 to take a 2-0 series lead.
4. Jack Johnson's Series-Opening Tally Against the Penguins
Date: April 16, 2014.
Series: Game 1 of the division semifinals between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Game Situation: 6:20 into the first period, no score.
The Goal: As Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky crossed over the Pittsburgh blue line, he sidestepped around Penguins defenseman Paul Martin and spun to his left to avoid a backchecking Sidney Crosby. Dubinsky then fired a backhand pass to teammate Jack Johnson, who was following up on the play. Johnson faked to his left, slid the puck from his forehand to his backhand and jammed it past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
The combination of Dubinsky's creative pass and Johnson's deft finishing touch made for an outstanding goal. It also served notice the Jackets weren't to be taken lightly in this series. The Penguins would eventually prevail in a hard-fought six games.
3. Jonathan Toews' Overtime Breakaway Against the Blues
Date: April 25, 2014.
Series: Game 5 of the division semifinals between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues.
Game Situation: 7:36 into overtime in Game 5, tied at two, as is the series.
The Goal: Toews picked up a long clearing pass from teammate Duncan Keith at center ice. Having just jumped on the ice on a line change, the Blackhawks captain was behind all the Blues defenders and had a clear breakaway on goalie Ryan Miller. As he approached Miller, Toews shifted to his right and slid the puck through the narrow gap between a sprawling Miller's left pad and the goalpost for the game-winner.
Of the breakaway goals scored in this year's playoffs thus far, Toews' has proven to be the standout. The Blackhawks had battled back from a 2-0 series deficit against the Blues. With the victory provided by Toews' goal, they took the series lead for the first time and would go on to eliminate the Blues in Game 6.
2. Mikael Granlund's First NHL Playoff Goal
Date: April 21, 2014
Series: Game 3 of the division semifinals between the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild.
Game Situation: 5:08 into overtime, scoreless tie, Wild trying to avoid falling behind 3-0 in the series to the Avalanche.
The Goal: Wild forward Mikael Granlund picked up the puck from teammate Jason Pominville along the boards behind the Avalanche net. He circled the net in an attempted wraparound that was foiled by Avs defenseman Jan Hejda.
The puck was knocked to the boards and chased by Granlund and Hejda. Granlund fought off Hejda, collected the puck and headed back to the net. Dodging another Avalanche checker, he cut to the middle, lunged past the Colorado goal and swiped the puck past goalie Semyon Varlamov.
Granlund's first NHL playoff goal marked the turning point of this series. The Wild rallied back and eventually eliminated the Avalanche in seven games. It was a superb individual effort by a promising young player in the heat of playoff action.
1. Patrick Kane's 'Showtime' Goal Against the Wild
Date: May 2, 2014.
Series: Game 1 of the Central Division Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild.
Game Situation: 8:22 into the third period, game tied at two.
The Goal: Patrick Kane moved to his right across the Wild zone, protecting the puck on his backhand. Avoiding a poke check from one defender, he cut sharply around another and roofed a perfect backhand from a sharp angle over the left shoulder of Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. As Kane circled the net in celebration, the camera captured him yelling, “Showtime!”
It also proved to be the game-winner, as the Blackhawks rolled to a 5-2 victory.
Kane has a well-earned reputation as an elite scoring forward and clutch playoff performer. He went on to score the clinching goal of this series in overtime of Game 6. His showtime goal in Game 1 was not only his best, but it also tops all goals scored thus far in this year's playoffs.