Football fan or not, Patriots fan or otherwise, the finish to Sunday’s Super Bowl was perhaps one of the greatest in recent memory. New England stormed back from a 25-point deficit in the second half to tie the game with a minute remaining in regulation, and, for the first time in Super Bowl history, overtime was necessary to decide the winner. Four minutes into the extra quarter, running back James White punched in the game-winning touchdown, handing the Patriots the title.
The feeling White is experiencing today is unique to him. He’s the first and only player in Super Bowl history to have their walk-off, game-winning play come in overtime. Championship-winning overtime heroics are more commonplace in other sports, however, and the NHL has seen its share of title-winning goals come in sudden death. Over the course of the league’s 100-year history, the Stanley Cup has been won 17 times on a goal that came in overtime.
The first overtime Cup winner in history came in 1933, when the New York Rangers’ Bill Cook netted the lone goal in Game 4 of the best-of-five final against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The very next year, Mush March would help the Chicago Blackhawks defeat the Detroit Red Wings to capture the franchise’s first Stanley Cup with an overtime winner, coincidentally also the lone goal in Game 4. Those two goals are historic markers in NHL lore, but here are the five most iconic Stanley Cup winning overtime tallies of the post-expansion era:
5. Jason Arnott, New Jersey Devils vs. Dallas Stars — June 10, 2000
The best season of Arnott’s career came in 2005-06 as a member of the Stars when he scored 32 goals and 76 points, but a season like that likely wasn’t enough for fans in Dallas to ever really forget that it was he who delivered the dagger in Game 6 of the 2000 Stanley Cup final. The Stars were going for back-to-back titles, but their offense was no match for the smothering defense of the Devils, and in what was the fourth one-goal game of the final, Arnott scored the deciding goal.
Arnott’s goal came about innocently enough. Midway through the second overtime, the puck was dumped into the right wing corner where Patrik Elias gave chase, faking as if to skate back to the blueline before swinging a pass out front. Arnott was in the right place at the right time for inarguably the biggest goal of his career. Despite playing in the post-season another 12 times in his career, Arnott never scored another overtime goal. He sure made his one winner count, though.
4. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks vs. Philadelphia Flyers — June 9, 2010
It seems like a distant memory, but there was a time when the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup drought was long enough that one couldn’t have blamed members of the fanbase for believing they’d never see Chicago take home the trophy again. The Blackhawks entered the 2010 post-season with a 49-year-old weight on their shoulders, which was, at the time, the longest active drought in the league.
The 2009-10 Blackhawks seemed to be a team of destiny, however. Loaded with bright young stars, it was arguably the brightest one of all, 21-year-old Kane, who scored the goal some fans had been waiting nearly six decades to see.
What makes Kane’s goal in Game 6 memorable isn’t just that he snapped the drought, though. Kane flashed his elusiveness by slipping a check before firing the puck five-hole on Michael Leighton for the Stanley Cup-winning goal — the move itself to get open was something special — but what most will forever remember about the winner is that it took almost a full minute before the referees and linesmen could actually locate the puck. At the time he scored, Kane, Patrick Sharp and Nick Boynton appeared to be the only ones who knew the puck was in.
3. Bob Nystrom, New York Islanders vs. Philadelphia Flyers — May 24, 1980
Kane’s goal in the 2010 Stanley Cup final kicked off what some would call the Blackhawks’ pseudo-dynasty. Chicago didn’t win consecutive championships, but they piled up three titles in six seasons. For the Islanders, though, Nystrom’s goal was the start of a real, honest-to-goodness dynasty and a run the likes of which will likely never be seen again.
New York was led by a pair of remarkable scorers in Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy and the Islanders’ supporting cast was almost unrivalled. The depth on the team was spectacular, with eight players reaching the 15-goal mark on the year and 11 players racking up at least 30 points during the regular season. And in Game 6 of the 1980 final, it was one of the Islanders many secondary scorers who set into motion a run of four-straight Stanley Cup victories.
Little more than seven minutes into the extra frame, the Flyers attempted to clear their zone only for the puck to end up on the stick of Lorne Henning. As he looped in the neutral zone, Henning found John Tonelli cutting into the middle of the ice, who in turn spotted Nystrom streaking to the net. A perfect pass led to Nystrom redirecting the puck home, capturing the series for the Islanders.
2. Brett Hull, Dallas Stars vs. Buffalo Sabres — June 19, 1999
There has never been a Stanley Cup-winning goal scored later — it took nearly 55 minutes of extra time for Hull to bang home the overtime marker in Game 6 — and no Cup-clinching tally has been quite as controversial as Hull’s. To this day, it’s still possible to find Sabres fans who believe that Hull’s goal shouldn’t have counted.
The controversy surrounded the way in which Hull scored the goal. Or, better put, the positioning of his body when he fired the puck home. The foot-in-the-crease was being enforced more extremely than ever before in an attempt to curb goaltender interference with a number of seemingly good goals overturned following video review. It’s for that reason that Hull’s left foot became the source of controversy. When he scored the Stanley Cup winner, his left foot was in the blue paint while he swatted at the loose puck sitting outside of the crease. Some believed — and continue to believe — that should have been enough for the goal to be reviewed and disallowed. It wasn’t, though, and the Stars skated away with the Stanley Cup.
Shortly after the final concluded, the league announced that it would take away replays for crease violations and turn power back over to referees, essentially killing the foot-in-the-crease rule.
1. Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins vs. St. Louis Blues — May 10, 1970
The greatest overtime winner in Stanley Cup history brought with it the most iconic photo in the sport’s history. Every hockey fan has seen the image of Orr soaring through the air after scoring the game-winning goal against the Blues in 1970, with Noel Picard’s trip and Glenn Hall falling into the net in the background.
It’s not all about the photo, though. Orr’s winner also tops the list because the play itself was fantastic. As Orr pinched down the right wing boards, he found Derek Sanderson behind the net with a quick pass and immediately darted to the net. With his stick on the ice, Orr took a return give-and-go pass from Sanderson, tapped the puck on net and beat Hall low for the winner.
It was fitting that Orr, who was 22 at the time and already a two-time Norris Trophy winner, was the one to score the Cup-clinching goal. He captured the Norris, Hart, Art Ross and Conn Smythe trophies thanks to his performance in 1969-70, and his goal helped the Bruins break a nearly 30-year Cup drought.