His career interrupted by Hodgkin's disease and back problems, the Penguins Hall of Famer and owner emerged from a three-year retirement to set up a goal on his first shift against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He later scored another and tacked on a second assist in a 5-0 win before an adoring crowd in Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena. He finished the season with a remarkable 76 points in only 43 games.
2 of 20V.J. Lovero/SI, John Cordes/TSN/Icon SMI, Elsa/Getty Images/NHLI
In the second period of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, the diminutive Ducks winger was knocked woozy by a booming check at center ice by rugged Devils defenseman Scott Stevens. Kariya, who had set up two goals in the first period, lay on the ice for a minute or so before he was helped to the dressing room on rubber legs. He returned less than five minutes later and scored a goal to help the Ducks win, 5-2. "It definitely showed a lot of grit for him to come back from a hit like that," Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said. "There's not too many guys who can do that."
3 of 20Simon Bruty/SI
Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin
The league's two biggest stars traded hat tricks in Game 2 of their Eastern semifinal playoff series in Washington. Two of Ovechkin's tallies came in the final 7:07 of the third period, breaking a 2-2 tie. Crosby kept it close by batting a puck out of midair and past goalie Semyon Varlamov with 30.4 seconds left in the Capitals' 4-3 win that put the Penguins in a two-games-to-none hole. "Sick game," Ovechkin said. "Sick three goals by me and (Crosby)."
4 of 20Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images/NHLI
The Ducks goaltender stopped a playoff-debut record 63 shots (since broken) in Game 1 of the Western quarterfinals against Detroit. His 2-1 win in triple OT was the start of a run that included holding the Wild to one goal in a Conference finals sweep and a shutout streak of 217 minutes 54 seconds, the NHL mark for longest playoff OT shutout streak (168 minutes 27 seconds; he was undefeated in seven OT games). He became only the fifth player to receive the Conn Smythe Trophy as a member of the losing team in the Stanley Cup final.
5 of 20Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images
After giving up five goals on six shots to Calgary in the game's first 11:43 -- three came in the span of 53 seconds -- the Blackhawks regrouped and tied the NHL record for biggest comeback set by the St. Louis Blues against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov 29, 2000. John Madden made it 5-1 late in the first period. Patrick Kane, Dustin Byfuglien and Dave Bolland scored in the second, and Patrick Sharp made Chicago's United Center rock by tying the game early in the third. Brent Seabrook's goal won the game 26 seconds into overtime, giving Chicago a 6-5 win.
6 of 20Dave Sandford/NHLI/Getty Images
The Habs made the biggest regular season comeback in their storied history by rallying from a five-goal deficit to beat the New York Rangers, 6-5, in a shootout at Bell Centre. Michael Ryder sparked the rally with two second-period goals and Saku Koivu scored the winner in the shootout, spoiling Jaromir Jagr's big night. The Ranger winger's four assists had put him in the ranks of the NHL's top 10 all-time scorers, but Jagr was foiled by Cristobal Huet as the Rangers' last man in the shootout.
7 of 20Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI/Getty Images
The Minnesota Wild sniper lit up the Rangers for five goals in a 6-3 win. Gaborik scored a hat trick less than 26 minutes into the game and added two more in the third period -- by swatting a puck out of the air and into the net, then beating Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist on a breakaway. For good measure, Gaborik registered an assist, to factor in all of the Wild's points. His five-goal game in regulation was the first in the NHL since Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux had one against St. Louis on March 26, 1996.
8 of 20Andy Marlin/NHLI, Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The Devils' netminder turned aside 30 shots in a 3-2 victory over Chicago that gave him the NHL's all-time wins mark (552). After the final buzzer, Brodeur cut the net off his goalposts and took a victory lap in New Jersey's Prudential Center. Three nights earlier, a sold-out crowd in his hometown of Montreal had chanted his name while he tied the mark held by his boyhood idol, Canadiens great Patrick Roy. The Habs' Hall of Fame netminder was on hand with Brodeur's father to celebrate the moment.
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The great Colorado Avalanche goaltender made 25 saves to beat the Devils, 3-1, in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, concluding a superb postseason in which he had a 1.70 goals-against average in 23 games, including four shutouts. For his efforts, Roy was presented with the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP for the third time in his career.
10 of 20Charles Laberge/Getty Images
The Lightning center scored in overtime to beat the Canadiens, 4-3 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals. Two nights later, he got the decisive goal in a sweep. They were the second and third of his record-setting seven game-winning goals in the playoffs, earning him the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Lightning won the Stanley Cup. Richards led all postseason scorers with 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists), including four goals and five assists in the seven game Cup final vs. Calgary. The previous mark of six game-winners was held by Joe Sakic of the Avalanche in 1996 and Joe Nieuwendyk of the Stars in 1999.
11 of 20Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Sid the Kid, 18, becomes the youngest player in NHL history to score 100 points in a season when he is credited with three assists in a 6-1 win over the New York Islanders. The previous holder of the mark, Dale Hawerchuk, was three months older than Crosby during his rookie season with Winnipeg in 1981-82. Crosby hAs since become the youngest to have consecutive 100-point seasons, play in the All-Star Game, and win a scoring title (19), as well as captain a Stanley Cup champion (21).
12 of 20Brian Bahr/Getty Images
The Ducks winger rang up four goals in a 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 3 of the Western Conference semi-finals. When Dustin Penner stole the puck in the Colorado zone and set up Lupul for a shot from between the circles that beat goaltender Jose Theodore at 16:30 of OT, Lupul became the first player in NHL playoff history to conclude a four-goal game with an OT tally.
13 of 20Mark A. Hicks/SI
The Hall of Fame coach hoisted his record ninth Stanley Cup, and third with Detroit, after a 3-1 win over Carolina in Game 5 of the final. Bowman's guidance made the Red Wings the first team to ever win the Cup after falling into a two-games-to-none hole in the first round of the playoffs. (They went 16-5 the rest of the way.) The championship was also the first for longtime veterans such as goaltender Dominik Hasek and left wing Luc Robitaille.
14 of 20Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
When he beat Thrashers goaltender Mike Dunham from the top of the left circle in the first period of a 5-3 loss, the dynamic Capitals winger became only the second rookie in NHL history, after Teemu Seallne in 1992-93, to reach 50 goals and 100 points. Ovechkin added an assist in the game, and finished the season with 52 goals and 106 points, locking up the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year, an award that, at the beginning of the season, was expected to go to Sidney Crosby.
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The veteran defenseman logged 17:08 of ice time for the Red Wings against the Columbus Blue Jackets, two days after his 47th birthday. The oldest American-born player to appear in an NHL game, Chelios ranks second all-time behind Gordie Howe (52).
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The youngest forward (22) to ever win the Conn Smythe Trophy, with 36 points in 24 games, the Russian center scored at least eight points in each of the Penguins' four playoff series. His biggest night was in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against Carolina when he potted his first career playoff hat trick in a 7-4 rout. After snapping a 4-4 tie 8:50 into the third period, Malkin tallied a highlight-reeler less than four minutes later by picking up the puck in the corner, carrying it behind the net and beating goalie Cam Ward with a backhander off a spin move.
17 of 20Jim McIsaac/Getty Images, David E. Klutho/SI
The Hurricanes goaltender, who came off the bench in the first round playoffs to take over as Carolina's starter, beat the Oilers with 22 saves in a 3-1 Game 7 win in the Stanley Cup Final. Ward earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the first rookie since Patrick Roy in 1986 to backstop a team to the Cup.
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The 23-year-old Capitals blueliner became the first defenseman in NHL history to score a goal in eight consecutive games when he connected on a second-period power play in a 5-1 win over Tampa Bay. Alexander Semin fed Green in the slot and his first shot was blocked by Lightning wnger Matt Pettinger, but the puck went back to Green, who drove it past Karri Ramo, breaking the mark set by Boston's Mike O'Connell in 1983-84. Green collected 10 goals and 7 assists during his streak.
19 of 20David E. Klutho/SI
The Dominator bagged his record fifth shutout of the postseason by blanking the Avalanche in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. His 19-save performance in the 7-0 rout -- the largest margin of victory ever in a Game 7 -- was has second consecutive whitewash of Colorado. Hasek later extended his mark to six by blanking Carolina 3-0 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
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Playing with a broken nose, courtesy of being sent into the boards by Montreal defenseman Francis Bouillon, and stitches in his lip, the Russian sniper equaled his career-highs of four goals, including the OT winner, and five points in a 5-4 victory over Montreal. "We scored five, and he was in on all five," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "So how can you say enough about him? He's an amazing person."
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