Lemieux, Jagr figure prominently in Pens' playoff highlights
The Pittsburgh Penguins' playoff history is filled with moments of unequalled excellence, as well as incredible heartbreak. The Penguins have often found themselves in Game 7 showdowns, unbelievable comebacks and unthinkable moments -- instances that not only shape a game, but in some cases, define a career. We take a look at 10 of the most memorable games in Penguins playoffs history.
10. May 10, 2001: Game 7, Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Buffalo (3-2 OT win)
On a team with Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Alexei Kovalev, no one would have picked Darius Kasparaitis to be the playoff hero in Game 7. Kasparaitis, known for his bone-crushing hits, sent the Penguins to the conference finals by jumping up on the rush and beating Buffalo Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek low to the glove side for his first career playoff overtime goal. Kasparaitis finished his career with two playoff goals in 83 games. This was the last playoff series win of Lemieux's career.
9. April 24, 1996: Game 4, Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Washington (3-2 quadruple OT win)
This game had a bit of everything. The wacky: In the second period, Lemieux was ejected for instigating a fight with the Caps' Todd Krygier. The weird: In the second overtime, Joe Juneau was stopped on a penalty shot by Ken Wreggett, who had replaced Tom Barrasso (who left early in the game with muscle spasms). The wild: After scoring the tying goal many hours earlier, Petr Nedved scored on the power play in the final minute of the fourth overtime. Nedved eluded a sliding Mark Tinordi and snapped a low, hard shot past Olaf Kolzig, who had already made 62 saves. The game was the fifth-longest in NHL history, with only a few thousand fans remaining from the sellout crowd in Washington. The Penguins would win the next two games to take the series in six.
8. April 12, 1970: Game 4, first round vs. Oakland Seals (3-2 OT win)
1970 marked the Penguins' first march into the postseason. It would be a historic one in a sad way. Rookie phenom Michel Briere, 20, scored an overtime winner in Game 4 to complete the sweep of the Oakland Seals. Briere collected the franchise's first overtime goal, leading to its first playoff series win. One month later, after the Penguins were eliminated by the St. Louis Blues, Briere was involved in a car accident in his hometown in Quebec. Briere was thrown out of the car and suffered massive brain injuries, which led to his death nearly a year later. Briere's No. 21 was retired by the Penguins, the only number the team retired until Lemieux retired in 1997.
After sweeping the Rangers in the first round, the Penguins met their intrastate rivals from Philadelphia for the first time ever in the postseason. After splitting the first four games, Game 5 in Pittsburgh was one for the record books. The Penguins scored early and often, sending Flyers goalie Ron Hextall into a fit. Lemieux had a career game, tying four NHL records: Most goals in one game (5), most points in one game (8), most goals in one period (4) and most points in one period (4). After Rob Brown scored the Penguins' ninth goal on a perfect feed from Lemieux to make it 9-2, Hextall reached his boiling point, chasing Brown around the ice in a rage. Despite the win, the Flyers would win the series in seven games.
6. May 14, 1993: Game 7, Patrick Division finals vs. New York Islanders (4-3 OT loss)
In 1993, the Penguins appeared on their way to a third straight Stanley Cup. They finished first overall. They had the game's best player in Lemieux, and a star-studded supporting cast that included Jagr, Ron Francis, Kevin Stevens, Joe Mullen and Larry Murphy. The Pens had already ripped past the Devils in the first round when they hit a huge road block in the New York Islanders. A 7-5 Islanders win in Game 6 forced a seventh and deciding game in Pittsburgh. Game 7 went to overtime, where 26-year-old David Volek beat Barrasso on a one-timer on a perfect pass from Ray Ferraro just five minutes in. The loss still stings Penguins fans, ending the team's streak of nine straight playoff series wins and two straight Stanley Cups.
5. May 9, 1992: Game 4, Patrick Division finals vs. New York Rangers (5-4 OT win)
In one of the most physical and nasty series of the 1990s, the Penguins' will was put to the test. Just like Evgeni Malkin stepped up this year when Sidney Crosby was injured, in 1992, Francis took center stage for the Penguins when Lemieux was out for the series after being slashed on the wrist in Game 2 by the Rangers' Adam Graves. Trailing two games to one, in Game 4 Pittsburgh overcame a two-goal deficit three different times to turn the series around. Francis started the comeback, scoring on a slap shot from outside the blue line that deflected past Mike Richter to close the gap to 4-3. In overtime, with the Penguins on the power play, Murphy stole the puck from Mark Messier in the slot and fired a shot that Francis deflected off the post and past John Vanbiesbrouck. The goal gave Francis a hat trick and the Penguins momentum. Pittsburgh stormed back to win the next two games and eventually their second straight Stanley Cup.
4. May 4, 2000: Game 4, Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Flyers (2-1 quintuple OT loss)
This, the most recent time the Flyers and Penguins met in the postseason, produced one of the most memorable games in playoff history. In the fifth overtime period, Keith Primeau, who had been scoreless in the series, made a rush down the boards, put a great fake on Kasparaitis and beat Ron Tugnutt over his shoulder with a bullet wrist shot. Primeau's first career playoff overtime goal tied the series at two games and ended the third-longest game in NHL history. The Flyers would carry the momentum and win the series in six games. This despite the fact the Penguins had won the first two games of the series in Philadelphia.
3. April 13, 1991: Game 6, Patrick Division semifinals vs. New Jersey (4-3 win)
Every Stanley Cup-winning team needs an unsung hero. In 1991, Pittsburgh had Frank Pietrangelo. Facing elimination in Game 6 of the opening round, Pietrangelo was pressed into action when Barasso was injured. The 28-year-old backup rose to the occasion, with a play simply known to Penguins fans as "the save." Peter Stastny, alone in front of the Penguins' net, picked up a rebound and somehow miraculously Pietrangelo made a game-saving, series-saving, career-defining stop. The glove save was a one-in-a-thousand play. Call it a fluke or call it divine intervention, whatever it was, it kept the Penguins' season alive. The Penguins won Game 6, and Pietrangelo followed that up with a shutout in Game 7; six weeks later, Pittsburgh was hoisting its first Stanley Cup.
2. May 25, 1991: Game 6, Stanley Cup finals vs. Minnesota (8-0 win)
Talk about putting an exclamation point on a championship season. The Penguins followed up their first division title by knocking off the Devils, Capitals and Bruins before reaching the finals. With a 3-2 series lead over the North Stars, the Penguins flexed their scoring muscle in Game 6. Minnesota goalie Jon Casey was peppered with shots, and Lemieux led the way with a goal and three assists as Pittsburgh cruised to a blowout win. The Penguins' win was the largest margin of victory in a Cup-clinching game. In just his seventh NHL season, Lemieux captured his first Stanley Cup, also earning recognition as playoff MVP. Pittsburgh coach "Badger" Bob Johnson won his first and only Cup; months later, he died from brain cancer.
1. April 26, 1975: Game 7, quarterfinals vs. New York Islanders (1-0 loss)
One of the most heartbreaking moments for Penguins fans occurred in the spring of 1975. After sweeping the Blues in the first round, the Penguins took a 3-0 series lead on the Islanders. Just a win away from qualifying for the semifinals for the first time in franchise history, some dubious history was made. A 3-1 loss in Game 4 was followed by a 4-2 loss and then a 4-1 loss. Suddenly the Penguins were staring down a one-game showdown for their playoff lives. In Game 7, Islanders defensive forward Ed Westfall scored with 5:18 left in the third period to break a scoreless tie, completing one of the most amazing comebacks in all of sports and knocking Pittsburgh out of the playoffs.
ESPN reporter David Amber is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.
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