NBC Sports’ Hockey Happy Hour continues this week with matchups featuring unsung heroes.
Chris Kunitz opened the scoring in the second period of Game 7, his first goal in over three months. After regulation, tied at two goals apiece, Kunitz recorded his third point, and second goal of the game, in double overtime to send the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second straight year.
Kenny Albert, Eddie Olczyk, and Pierre McGuire called the matchup from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Wednesday, April 8
• Senators vs. Penguins (2017 Eastern Conf. Final, Game 7, Chris Kunitz) – 5 p.m. ET
• NHL: Pause and Rewind – 6 p.m. ET
Thursday, April 9
• NHL: Pause and Rewind (Encore) – 5 p.m. ET
• Rangers vs. Kings (2014 Stanley Cup Final, Game 5, Alec Martinez) – 6 p.m. ET
#HOCKEYATHOME: EPISODE 1 – NHL BROTHERS – TUESDAY, 6:30 P.M. ET ON NBCSN
Kathryn Tappen and Sportsnet host David Amber will co-host a 30-minute program about brothers in the NHL. The three sets of brothers interviewed and featured in the program are Eric, Jordan, and Marc Staal; Brady and Matthew Tkachuk; and Quinn and Jack Hughes.
NHL: PAUSE AND REWIND – WEDNESDAY, 6 P.M. ET ON NBCSN
The premiere of a one-hour special, NHL: Pause and Rewind, will take a look back at this past NHL season as well as how players are spending their time off in the current league hiatus. Highlighted segments will include a look at the current top five teams in each conference, reflecting on the season’s milestones, including Alex Ovechkin’s historic 700 goal accomplishment, as well as revisiting the Blues’ improbable Stanley Cup victory last season.
NBC Sports commentators conducting player interviews and sharing #HockeyAtHome social content will also be featured throughout the program.
Programming will also stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
As 2019 comes to a close, we’re taking a look back at the past decade. We’ll remember the best players and teams, most significant goals, and biggest transactions that have happened since 2010. Let us know your memories in the comments.
What does everybody want? Goals! What does everybody need? Goals! What does everybody love? Goals!
From Jan. 1, 2010 through Dec. 23, 2019 there were 65,439 regular season goals scored in the NHL. The Penguins (2,425) had the most, while the Devils (1,892) had the fewest if you’re counting teams that played the entire decade (Vegas has 633 total).
While there have been tons of beautiful goals scored at various levels of hockey around the world, we wanted to hone in on the ones that meant the most. Not the prettiest, but the biggest, most significant goals of the last 10 years. Some won championships, others were the final part of a drama.
Five days after Canada won 5-4 following a shootout in the preliminary round, the Americans got their revenge. Carlson’s overtime goal helped the U.S. win their first gold medal since 2004 and snapped Canada’s streak of six straight golds. It also began a decade of growth on the junior level for the program. U.S. teams at the World Juniors have won three gold medals since 2010 and seven medals in the last 10 tournaments.
Iggy! (2010 Winter Olympics)
Zach Parise gave the U.S. hope when he tied the game with 25 seconds left in the third period. But it was Crosby who delivered Canada gold as he called for the pass from Jarome Iginla and slid the puck by Ryan Miller for the country’s second gold medal in three Olympic Games.
How much did the goal resonate? Crosby’s stick, gloves, the puck, and the net used in the game at GM Place were put on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
At first only three people inside Wachovia Center — Kane, Patrick Sharp and Nick Boynton — knew the location of the puck. The rest of their Blackhawks teammates, the Flyers, including goaltender Michael Leighton, and the closest official had no idea, until upon closer inspection it was discovered a goal had been scored and the Blackhawks were Stanley Cup champions.
Alex Burrows slays the dragon (2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs)
The Canucks had their Stanley Cup dreams ended in Round 2 two consecutive playoffs at the hands of the Blackhawks. Both the 2009 and 2010 series ended in six games, but the third time would be the charm for Vancouver and Burrows would be the hero. Chris Campoli’s clearance was blocked by Burrows, who then fled into the Chicago zone and fired a rocket by Antti Niemi, earning himself the “dragon slayer” nickname.
Bergeron completes the comeback vs. Maple Leafs (2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs)
The Maple Leafs were looking good up 4-1 midway through the third period of Game 7 against the Bruins and eyeing their first playoff series win in nine years. But then it all fell apart. Nathan Horton cut the lead to 4-2 with 10:42 to go and a wild final two minutes in the third period ended with Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron scoring 31 seconds apart to force overtime.
A few weeks after their series win over the Maple Leafs, the Bruins were on the other end of a dramatic comeback, one that would end their season. Boston held a 2-1 lead late in Game 6, hoping to hang on and force a Game 7 in Chicago. With the Blackhawks’ net empty, it was Brian Bickell tying the game with 1:16 to play. As many were preparing to see overtime, Bolland had other ideas as 17 seconds later he pounced on a rebound in front to send the Blackhawks to a second Cup win in four years.
There was no medal on the line. The only meaning to the game was that the winner avoided the qualification round. A shootout was needed and the U.S. turned to T.J. Oshie, who scored on four of his six attempts to help the Americans beat Russia 3-2.
The game took place in the early hours of a Saturday morning in the U.S., and the reactions from around the country of fans who gathered in local bars to watch showed the impact of the victory. (It also provided us with this amazing photo.)
Poulin shatters American dreams again (2014 Winter Olympics)
The U.S. should have claimed gold. Up 2-1 with under two minutes to play, Kelli Stack’s shot toward an empty net clanked off the post and gave Canada life. Thirty-one seconds later Marie-Philip Poulin broke the Americans’ hearts for the first time that day, tying the game with 54.6 seconds left. She did it again in overtime to continue Canada’s gold medal run at the Olympics.
This wasn’t the first time Philip-Poulin shattered American dreams. Four years earlier she scored both goals to lead her country to gold over the U.S. at the Vancouver Games.
Martinez the Cup winning King (2014 Stanley Cup Final)
One overtime wasn’t enough for the Kings and Rangers, who settled the 2014 Cup Final with a second extra period. With the Kings leading the series 3-1, the fans inside Staples Center were chanting We Want the Cup! and Martinez, who scored the overtime winner in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final, delivered leading a rush into the Rangers’ zone and burying a feed from Tyler Toffoli to help franchise capture its first championship.
Islanders finally advance to Round 2 (2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs)
The eighth time was the charm. Since the spring of 1993 when David Volek shattered Pittsburgh’s three-peat dreams and the Islanders reached the conference final, the franchise could not find a way out of the first round of the playoffs. But a second consecutive 100-point season was boosted by captain Tavares’ double overtime wraparound to get the monkey off their backs.
Kunitz keeps Penguins’ back-to-back dreams alive (2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs)
It was a goal that sent two franchises in two different directions. Kunitz’s goal sent the Penguins to the Cup Final that season, which they could win in six games over the Predators to give the NHL back-to-back champs for the first time in two decades. The goal also ended a memorable run by the Senators, who topped the Bruins and Rangers to reach the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2007. Since that night, Ottawa has failed to make the playoffs, failed to reach 67 points and win more than 28 games in a season. They also said goodbye to players like Mark Stone, Erik Karlsson, Kyle Turris, Mike Hoffman, Ryan Dzingel, and Derick Brassard, among others.
Kuznetsov’s winner exorcises demons (2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs)
It seemed like the Capitals were never going to win the Stanley Cup unless they beat the Penguins. They hadn’t topped their old rivals in seven straight playoff series dating back to 1994, but this one felt different. The back-and-forth series finally came to an end when Evgeny Kuznetsov slipped the puck five-hole on Matt Murray, sending Washington on a path that would end with its first championship.
The game had it all (2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs)
After blowing a 3-1 series lead the Golden Knights were up 3-1 on the Sharks in Game 7 and things were looking good. But then Cody Eakin cross-checked Joe Pavelski, who fell awkwardly and hit his head on the ice, causing the game to stop for several minutes. Eakin was given a major penalty and game misconduct, opening the door for the San Jose power play to score four times in four minutes to completely alter the game. In overtime, Barclay Goodrow made the SAP Center roof fly off with the winning goal to send the Sharks to Round 2.
Maroon’s goal cues Play Gloria! (2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs)
It was fitting that the St. Louisan returns home on a one-year deal and scores one of the biggest goals of the season. Round 2, Game 7 against the Dallas Stars and it was Maroon who played hero inside Enterprise Center. The goal set off wild celebrations on the ice and and in the bowels of the arena as the Laura Branigan song Gloria played over and over. Thirty-six days later the Blues would win their first Cup to kick off a summer of partying.
Chris Kunitz announced his retirement on Tuesday after a 1,022-game NHL career that saw him win four Stanley Cups and Olympic gold in 2014. He finishes with 268 goals and 619 points
In retirement, the 39-year-old Kunitz will join the Chicago Blackhawks hockey operations department as a player development adviser role which will see him helping the the organization’s coaching staffs at both the NHL and AHL levels.
Kunitz released a statement via the Blackhawks:
“I feel very fortunate to have been a part of four amazing organizations over the last 15 years. First and foremost, I’d like to sincerely thank the Anaheim Ducks, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks. Every one of these organizations was the ultimate example, not only to me, but to my children, on what true professionalism should be.
Secondly, I’d like to thank the owners, coaches, trainers, management. Your love for the game, the team and the community was exemplified daily. I am very fortunate to have worked with every one of you.
Finally, to my teammates, thank you for everything. As a young player you taught me to give my very best. Your leadership helped mold me into the player I knew I could be. I was given the opportunity to play with the very best teams and the very best players and I’m grateful for the laughs and the friendships that we shared together. Thank you for making my childhood dream come true.”
Undrafted out of Ferris State, Kunitz signed as a free agent with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003 and four years later won his first Cup. In 2009, he was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009 where he would capture his second championship in three seasons. It was with the Penguins where he would spend most of his career playing 569 games and recording 388 points. The 2013-14 season would be his most productive with 35 goals and 68 points, both career highs. That success would see him be named to Canada’s Olympic team where they would win gold in Sochi.
The titles would continue a few years later when the Penguins won back-to-back Cups in 2016 and 2017. It was Kunitz’s goal in overtime of Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators that would send Pittsburgh to another Cup Final.
That goal would be his last with the Penguins. Following the 2016-17 season, Kunitz moved on to the Tampa Bay Lightning and then joined up with the Blackhawks this past season.
“Chris had an outstanding professional career,” said Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton. “His four Stanley Cups and Olympic gold medal speak for themselves. While coaching him last year, I recognized what an asset he would be for our staff and the organization. I’m very pleased to have him a part of our coaching group and, also, use him as a development resource for our young players in Rockford.”
Jon Cooper called declared that his team was “out of sync” prior to Monday night’s game in Chicago.
It’s three words that haven’t been used at all this season to describe the Tampa Bay Lightning who, up until Sunday, was known as the best team in the NHL.
The Lightning came into Monday night nursing a three-game losing streak, another foreign concept for a team saw four of its players elected to the NHL’s All-Star Game this coming weekend.
But just as quickly as they dropped out of the top spot in the NHL — the Vegas Golden Knights assumed that throne for 24 hours after a win on Sunday night — the Lightning snatched it back in a 2-0 triumph over the Chicago Blackhawks in the Windy City on Monday.
For a team that perhaps forgot how to play with one another, they looked comfortable in each other’s company against the Blackhawks.
The game was tight for the most part, and it took the Blackhawks being caught napping shorthanded to break a 0-0 deadlock late in the second period as Chris Kunitz took advantage of a defensive mishap.
Jake Dotchin’s wrister sailed wide, but Kunitz was allowed to waltz behind the net, pick up the loose puck and put it behind Jeff Glass, nearly untouched through the whole process.
The NHL’s top goalie once again lived up to the distinction as Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside all 40 shots that came his way.
The Blackhawks put up 10 or more shots in each of the game’s three periods, including 17 in the second frame. But the All-Star netminder played and exceptional game, including stopping 10 out of 10 on the power play to keep Chicago 0-for-6 on the power play.
Yanni Gourde sealed the game late in the third with a blast to make it 2-0.