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Sunday, February 24, 2002
Hockey's all-time greatest games

ESPN.com sources


The United States-Canada gold-medal hockey game was certainly one for the ages, but does it rank up with these all-time greats?

Longest playoff game in history
March 24, 1936: Detroit 1, Montreal Maroons 0 (6 OT)
The longest playoff game in history lasted a full game longer than Brett Hull's triple-overtime thriller in 1999. Mud Bruneteau scored in the sixth OT, after 116 minutes, 30 seconds of extra time. The game ended at 2:25 a.m. and the Red Wings went on to capture the Stanley Cup.

1950 Stanley Cup finals, Game 7
April 23, 1950: Detroit Red Wings 4, New York Rangers 3 (2 OT)
In perhaps the most exciting finals ever, the Rangers won Games 4 and 5 on OT goals from Don Raleigh. The Red Wings won Game 6 with a third-period rally to force Game 7 in Detroit. It went into the second overtime tied 3-3 before Detroit's Pete Babando, one of the few American players in the NHL at the time, won the Cup. Afterwards, Detroit's Ted Lindsay inaugurates the parade of champions, as he picks the Stanley Cup off the table and skates around the arena.

1972 Summit Series, Game 8
Sept. 28, 1972: Team Canada 6, Soviet Union 5
Hockey's first challenge series was tied 3-3-1 heading into the final game in Moscow. The game was played at an intense emotional pitch. When J.P. Parise was given a misconduct penalty and then tossed from the game, Canada coach Harry Sinden tossed a stool and metal chair onto the ice. The 2,000 Canadian supporters began chanting, "Let's go home! Let's go home!" Ken Dryden was in the nets for Canada, but the Soviets led 5-3 entering the third period. Goals from Phil Esposito and Yvan Cournoyer tied it up. Finally, Paul Henderson converted a pass from Esposito with 34 seconds remaining for the game-winning goal. Considered by many as the greatest moment in Canadian sports history.

1979 Conference finals, Game 7
May 10, 1979: Montreal Canadiens 5, Boston Bruins 4 (OT)
The two best teams in hockey met in Montreal with the winner advancing to the Stanley Cup finals. Boston led 3-1 entering the third period, but the Habs scored twice to even the score. The Bruins' Rick Middleton silenced the crowd by scoring with four minutes left. But with time running out, Don Cherry's Bruins were caught with too many men on the ice. Guy Lafleur took advantage of the power play to send the game into OT, which Montreal won at 9:33 on Yvon Lambert's goal. The Canadiens went on to win their fourth straight Stanley Cup.

1980 Olympic semifinal: "Miracle on Ice"
Feb. 22, 1980: United States 4, Soviet Union 3
The U.S. hockey team consisted of a bunch of college players. Nobody expected them to play with the powerful Soviets, who regularly beat NHL teams and had many of the best players in the world. In an exhibition game two weeks before the Olympics, the Soviets won 10-3. In a semifinal game in Lake Placid, N.Y., the Soviets led 3-2 entering the final period. But Mark Johnson tied the game with 11 minutes left and two minutes later team captain Mike Eruzione scored for a 4-3 lead. With the crowd wildly cheering them on, the U.S. holds on for the stunning upset. Goalie Jim Craig finishes with 36 saves and in the locker room, the U.S. players sing "God Bless America." Two days later, they beat Finland 4-2 to capture the gold medal.

1982 Smythe Division semifinals, Game 3
April 10, 1982: Los Angeles Kings 6, Edmonton Oilers 5 (OT)
Led by the 92-goal effort of Wayne Gretzky, the Oilers scored 111 points during the season, nearly double the Kings' 63. Edmonton led 5-0 after two periods as Gretzky had schooled the Kings on hockey's finer points. But the Kings mounted an amazing comeback and tied the game up with five seconds remaining. In overtime, Kings rookie Daryl Evans, who had been banished earlier for fighting, returned to the ice and scored the winner. The Kings later completed the series upset.

1987 Patrick Division semifinals, Game 7
April 18, 1987: Islanders 3, Capitals 2 (4 OT)
The longest game since 1943 saw the Islanders complete a comeback from a 3-1 series deficit. Washington dominated in regulation but Islanders goalie Kelly Hrudey was brilliant to keep his team close and Bryan Trottier scored late to send the game to OT. As the game stretched on, Hrudey and Caps goalie Bob Mason stifled all shots. Finally, after 68 minutes of extra time, New York's Pat LaFontaine fired a slapshot through a maze of players, off the goalpost and into the net.

1987 Canada Cup finals, Game 3
Sept. 11, 1987: Canada 6, Soviet Union 5
The Soviets won the opener of the best-of-3 series, 6-5 in OT. Canada took the next game, also 6-5, also in OT. The Soviets took a 3-0 lead in Game 3. It was 4-2 after one period, but Canada scored three times in the second period to take a 5-4 lead. The Soviets tied it up. Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, playing on the same team for the only time in something other than an All-Star Game, combined for the winning goal with 1:26 left, as Gretzky delivered a perfect pass on a 2-on-1 to Lemieux. Earlier, in a similar situation, Lemieux passed the puck back to Gretzky, who told him to shoot the puck next time. Lemieux did, and Canada won.

1994 Stanley Cup finals, Game 7
June 14, 1994: New York Rangers 3, Vancouver Canucks 2
One of only three seven-game finals since 1971, the Rangers were seeking their first Stanley Cup championship since 1940. The Rangers led the series 3-1 but the Canucks won twice to force Game 7 at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first period, but Vancouver cut it to 2-1 in the second. Mark Messier late in the second period for 3-1 lead, while the Canucks once again cut it to a one-goal deficit. But in a tight third period before a screaming home crowd, the Rangers held on.

The Dominator stuns Canada
Feb. 20, 1998: Czech Republic beats Canada in shootout
The Czech Republic, with only nine NHL players, faced the powerful Canadians in the Olympic semifinals in Nagano. Goalie Dominik Hasek single-handedly kept the Czechs in the game, forcing a 1-1 tie through the end of overtime with 24 saves. In the shootout, he stopped all five Canada penalty shots and Robert Reichel tallied for the Czechs. "It's devastating, the worst feeling I've ever had in hockey," a tearful Wayne Gretzky -- who was bypassed in the shootout by coach Marc Crawford -- said afterwards. Hasek then led the Czechs to a 1-0 victory over Russia for the gold medal.