Few times of year are more exciting and action-packed as when the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs come around, and many of the most memorable, iconic, and important goals ever scored in hockey game during that time. It's also during times like these that future hall-of-famers cement their legacies. Wayne Gretzky didn't become the great one without scoring his fair share of memorable goals - in fact his last goal ever as an Edmonton Oiler was a Stanley Cup winner. Bobby Orr's soaring goal also won a Stanley Cup. So was Mark Messier's final goal of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. Great players score great goals - but what are the biggest hockey goals of all time?
This list isn't just limited to the NHL. Arguably the greatest moment in American sports history was a hockey goal, when Team USA defeated the Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. Travel to Canada and many of the Canadians' most storied moments don't involve the Canadians, they involve Team Canada.This list of memorable hockey goals represents the sport's most important and game-changing, not necessarily the most physically impressive. Sure, that goal by Alex Ovechkin on his back was insane, but it happened against the Phoenix Coyotes during a season in which neither they nor the Washington Capitals were contenders. The most important goals don't have to be fancy, they just need to write history.
Bobby Orr Wins the Stanley Cup 45 Seconds Into Overtime
In the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals, the Boston Bruins lead the St. Louis Blues three games to zero. In the fourth game the Blues forced overtime, but Bobby Orr sealed the victory for the Bruins by scoring 45 seconds into the extra period. The goal was one of the fastest overtime goals in NHL history and Orr would go on to achieve a Hall of Fame career.
Mario Lemieux Scores on a Pass from Wayne Gretzky
Despite being contemporary countrymen, Mario Lemieux only played with Wayne Gretzky one time, in the 1987 Canada Cup. They ended up winning the tournament in the final game against the Soviet Union on a goal by Lemieux assisted by Gretzky. It seems like something right out of a video game.
Bobby Baun Wins the Stanley Cup with a Broken Leg
Bobby Baun's Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1964 may have seemed like any other game winner, but for one key detail: Baun had a broken ankle. Baun broke his ankle early in the third period, but returned in overtime to score the game-winner. Talk about toughness!
Maurice Richard Scores 50 Goals in 50 Games
Very few players have scored 50 goals in 50 games. The first person to do it was Maurice Richards of the Montreal Canadians in 1945. The next player didn't accomplish the feat until 1981, leading many to believe no one else would be able to replicate it.