There is nothing like the NHL playoffs especially when they go into overtime. A sudden-death goal can happen on the first shot or a few hours later, every game is unique. Here are some overtime-winning goals that Pittsburgh Penguins fans will remember exactly where they were the moment they were scored.
Petr Nedved Scores in 4th Overtime
April 24th, 1996 – Pittsburgh 3 – Washington 2
Game 4 – Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Petr Nedved scored at 19:15 of the fourth overtime for a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in what ended one of the most memorable playoff games in NHL history.
The Capitals had a 2-1 series lead at the time and were looking good early after scoring a power-play goal in the first period. Starting goalie Tom Barrasso left after the first period with back spasms and backup Ken Wregget had to shake off some rust and try to help the Penguins tie the series. The last game action that Wregget saw was 14 days prior when he lost 6-2 on April 10, 1996.
Washington scored the second goal on another power-play but the Penguins were able to fight back with a shorthanded goal by Jaromir Jagr with less than two minutes to go in the second period that pulled them within a goal. As the second period came to a close, the game really got interesting. Mario Lemieux received a game-misconduct as the period was about to expire after getting into an altercation with Todd Krygier and missed the rest of the game.
Nedved ended the game in the fourth overtime, beating Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig on a power-play goal which was the sixth power-play opportunity awarded to the Penguins after regulation.
Wregget’s 53 saves in this game rank third after Marc-Andre Fleury (55) and Ron Tugnutt (70) on the Penguins all-time for most saves in a playoff overtime game.
Chris Kunitz Sends Penguins to Final
May 25, 2017 – Pittsburgh 3 – Ottawa 2
Game 7 – Eastern Conference Final
Heading into the game, Kunitz hadn’t scored a goal since Feb. 16 and only scored nine on the season. The 37-year-old was playing in a reduced role, skating on the fourth line with Matt Cullen and Conor Sheary. Despite all of that, Kunitz had a good feeling going into the game.
Kunitz: “For me, I wasn’t one of the top performers leading into anything. But I think one thing you always convince yourself of when you’re playing down the lineup is if you ever get your chance and get out there, earn every shift you can. I remember sitting beside Shears and Cully and saying, ‘We’re feeling it tonight. Let’s just keep doing this.'”
The game-winner came on a slap shot at 5:09 into double overtime from the top of the faceoff circle that made it over the right shoulder of Craig Anderson, who stopped 39 of Pittsburgh’s 42 shots on goal.
Kunitz had two goals, six shots, four hits, and three blocks, one of which was a game-saver in the second overtime on Mark Stone. The Penguins went on to become the first team in 19 years to win back-to-back Stanley Cup championships.
When Petr Sykora Called His Shot
June 2, 2008 – Pittsburgh 4 – Detroit 3
Game 5 – Stanley Cup Final
The Penguins were facing elimination in Detroit, down 3-1 in the series. The Red Wings held a 3-2 lead in the final minute of the game. With a crowd of 20,000 fans preparing for a celebration, Maxime Talbot spoiled the party by banging in his own rebound past Detroit goalie Chris Osgood with 35 seconds left in regulation and Fleury pulled for the extra attacker.
Detroit outshot Pittsburgh 34-18 during regulation and 13-2 during the first overtime. However, Talbot said he felt the momentum swing his team’s way during the second overtime. He was right, the Pens had an 8-7 edge in shots and shots were 4-4 in the third overtime.
During an interview, just before the third overtime, Petr Sykora told NBC’s Pierre McGuire that he’d provide the winning shot. At 9:57 into the third overtime, Sykora positioned himself in the faceoff circle to the left of the Detroit goal, he took a centering feed from Evgeni Malkin and ripped a wrist shot that beat Osgood to end the game and validate his prediction.
Darius Kasparaitis Becomes Unlikely Hero
May 10, 2001 – Pittsburgh 3 – Buffalo 2
Game 7 – Second Round Eastern Conference Playoffs
Darius Kasparaitis was one of the most hated players in the NHL at the time. His role was to play physical, get under the skin of the opposition, and provide solid play in the Penguins’ zone. At 13:01 of the overtime session, he scored on a nice feed from center Robert Lang that got by the glove of Buffalo Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek to send Pittsburgh to the Eastern Conference Final against the New Jersey Devils.
Kasparaitis’ goal was also the franchise’s first Game 7 overtime winner. The Penguins had lost on their only other attempt when David Volek of the New York Islanders ended their season in 1993.
“I’ve dreamed about this goal for nine years, you know. And I can’t believe I did it,” said Kasparaitis. “I think I’ll never do it again. I can’t believe I scored a goal.”
At the time it was only the 21st goal in Kasparaitis’ 622 career NHL games, and just the second of his playoff career.
When James Neal Became the Real Deal in Double Overtime
April 20, 2011 – Pittsburgh 3 – Tampa Bay 2
Game 4 – First Round Eastern Conference Playoffs
James Neal scored 3:38 into the second overtime, giving the Penguins a dramatic 3-2 victory over Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series. He was acquired in a trade with the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Alex Goligoski just prior to the deadline. The game was his fourth career NHL playoff appearance.
He was in the midst of a 23-game scoring drought including the playoffs when he threw the puck at the net from the half-wall that went in.
Fleury was stellar, stopping 29 shots, nine of them in the overtime sessions, that helped the Penguins take a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference matchup.
However, Pittsburgh went on to lose the next three games in what was one of the franchise’s most frustrating collapses in modern playoff history.
The NHL Playoffs can create some of the most exciting moments in sports history, but when the games extend into overtime the goal scorers become legendary. Pittsburgh fans are fortunate to have witnessed some of these iconic goals that will be remembered forever.
Rob Klein grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan playing pond hockey every winter, and watching Hockey Night in Canada on CBC every Saturday. Being able to finally watch his Red Wings hoist the Stanley Cup in 1997 was his finest NHL moment. As a fan of the NHL for over 40 years he has been able to follow many great teams and appreciate the history of this great game as well as the remarkable talent that is playing today.