Look, we all know that Game 7 between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs is going to make a list of the 10 greatest games of 2013. It’s just a question of where.
Let’s find out, shall we, with Puck Daddy’s Top 10 games of 2013:
10. Los Angeles Kings at St. Louis Blues (Game 5, Western Conference quarterfinals, May 9)
“We played a hell of a hockey game,” lamented Blues Coach Ken Hitchcock, and that’s the truth. After Alex Pietrangelo tied the game with 44 seconds left, Slava Voynov scored eight minutes into overtime to give the Kings the 3-2 win and a 3-2 series lead.
9. Canada vs. Russia (World Junior Bronze Medal Game, Jan. 5)
They played it in an arena, but it might as well have been on a pond: Russia defeated the Canadians 6-5 on a Valeri Nichushkin overtime goal. As the Globe & Mail put it: “a wild, unstructured, exhausting pond-hockey to determine who would stand as the third best junior hockey team in the world.”
8. Chicago Blackhawks at Boston Bruins (Game 4, Stanley Cup Final, June 19)
Throw out the defensive schemes and watch the firewagon hockey happen. The teams scored six goals during a chaotic 18-minute span, including one of the wackiest goals of the playoffs from Patrice Bergeron. Brent Seabrook scored in OT for the 6-5 Chicago win and a series tie.
7. Chicago Blackhawks at Calgary Flames (Feb. 3)
We witnessed some spectacular goaltending in the last year, but this performance by Ray Emery might rank near the top: He made 45 saves and three more in the shootout to defeat the Calgary Flames, 3-2. Said Joel Quenneville: “You’ve got to call the cops after that performance. We stole two points. He was spectacular. I’ve never ever been out-chanced, outplayed like that in my life. It was a special performance, and it continued in the shootout.”
To top it off, Marian Hossa sent the game into overtime with a goal with 2.1 seconds left in regulation, 33 seconds after it looked like Jay Bouwmeester had won it. The win continued a streak of nine games with at least a point, a streak that would go on to reach historic proportions.
6. Pittsburgh Penguins at Montreal Canadiens (March 2)
An insane game, in Michel Therrien’s first meeting against his former team. Five lead changes, 13 goals and an overtime game-winner from Brandon Sutter. Just unpredictable, messy fun. "That kind of game is great for the fans, but it's what gives coaches gray hair," said Therrien.
5. Yale vs. Minnesota (NCAA West Regional, March 29)
Yale was the No. 4 seed (No. 15 overall) in the West Regional. Minnesota was the first seed. The Bulldogs stunned the Gophers with two goals, and led by that margin with 12 minutes left in the game. Goals by Minnesota’s Nate Schmidt and Zach Budish tied it. The teams went to overtime to win or go home. And Jesse Root won it for Yale eight seconds (!) into overtime. Yale would go on to win the Frozen Four, their first Div. 1 title in school history.
4. Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks (Game 7, Western Conference semifinals, May 29)
The last playoff game between these two storied rivals as Central Division foes, in a win-or-go-home battle that was the epitome of Game 7 intensity. It’s infamous for the goal that wasn’t: Niklas Hjalmarsson’s potential game-winner wiped away by Stephen Walkom’s odd matching minors call late in the third. It’s famous for Brent Seabrook’s OT game-winner to send the Blackhawks to the conference finals.
3. Chicago Blackhawks at Boston Bruins (Game 6, Stanley Cup Final, June 24)
“Seventeen seconds” entered into Boston sports infamy thanks to goals by Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland in the final 1:16 of the third period to give the Blackhawks the 3-2 win and their second Stanley Cup in four seasons. "I still can't believe that finish. Oh, my God, we never quit," said goalie Corey Crawford. Sigh … if only this had been a Game 7. That’s only thing keeping it at the No. 3 spot.
2. Kelowna Rockets vs. Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL quarterfinals, April 3)
In Game 7 of the WHL quarterfinals, Seattle’s Luke Lockhart tied what had been a thrilling game with seven seconds remaining in the third. But Tyson Baillie would take the T-Birds from ecstasy to agony, scoring at 5:10 of overtime to eliminate Seattle. It completed a hat trick for Baillie in a 3-2 win, in which he was the Rockets’ offense.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins (Game 7, Eastern Conference quarterfinals, May 13)
Could it be anything else?
The Leafs led 4-1 at 5:29 of the third period. Nathan Horton made it 4-2 just under four minutes later. The Leafs still led by that margin with less than two minutes in regulation. Then Milan Lucic scored to make it 4-3. And then Patrice Bergeron scored 31 seconds later, with 51 seconds left in regulation, to tie the game.
And then Bergeron scored at 6:05 of overtime to crush the hopes and dreams of Leafs fans, like these folks in their living room (SOME NSFW LANGUAGE):
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