My Favorite Goal

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My Favorite Goal: Lemieux’s end-to-end masterpiece; Hextall scores again

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Welcome to “My Favorite Goal,” a regular feature from NBC Sports where our writers and personalities remember the goals that have meant the most to them. These goals have left a lasting impression and there’s a story behind each one.

Today, we have two selections from our NHL on NBC analysts. First, Patrick Sharp’s choice is one of the NHL’s most famous goals.

With the Pittsburgh Penguins holding a 2-1 lead in the second period of Game 2 of the 1991 Stanley Cup Final, Mario Lemieux took a pass from Phil Bourque and proceeded to make mince meat out of the Minnesota North Stars. Shawn Chambers, Neil Wilkinson and Jon Casey had no chance at defending “Le Manifique.”

The Penguins would go on the win the game 4-1 and the series in six games to take home their first Stanley Cup title.

Our second choice is from Keith Jones, who picked a goal that made NHL playoff history.

A year and a half after Ron Hextall became the first goaltender to actually shoot and score a goal, he became the first to do it in the playoffs against the Washington Capitals. The Philadelphia Flyers netminder had always wanted to score in a game and was going to take advantage of every opportunity that was presented.

While Billy Smith was the first goalie to be credited with a goal, no NHL netminder had shot the puck down the ice at an empty net and scored until Hextall first accomplished the feat in Dec. 1987 against the Boston Bruins. He was the first to do it twice.

PREVIOUSLY ON MY FAVORITE GOAL
McCarty shows off goal-scoring hands during 1997 Cup Final
Ovechkin scores ‘The Goal’ as a rookie
Malik’s stunning shootout winner
Paul Henderson scores for Canada

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

My Favorite Goal: Paul Henderson scores for Canada

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Welcome to “My Favorite Goal,” a regular feature from NBC Sports where our writers and personalities remember the goals that have meant the most to them. These goals have left a lasting impression and there’s a story behind each one.

Today, Rotoworld Senior Hockey Writer and Editor Michael Finewax remembers Paul Henderson’s Summit Series winning goal in 1972.

Foster Hewitt: Henderson takes a wild stab at it and falls…right in front to Henderson…scores…HENDERSON HAS SCORED FOR CANADA

It was the Goal of the Century!

I still get the shivers when I hear that call and see the goal.

With all due respect to Sidney Crosby and the Golden Goal in 2010, the only goal that matters to my generation was the Henderson goal to beat the Soviet Union on September 28, 1972. The only goal that is close to that was Mike Eruzione’s goal in the 1980 Olympics to beat the Soviets.

It was a different time back then. Everyone ‘hated’ the Communist Soviet Union as it was a completely foreign way of life compared to our North American standards.

I want to set up the goal for everyone. The Soviet Union and Canada agreed to meet in an eight-game series with the first four games in Canada, a two-week break, and the final four games in Moscow. It was named the ‘Summit Series’. Everyone thought that the Canadian NHLers would easily sweep the Soviets who had only played other amateur teams at the World Championships.

The first game was in Montreal and Canada took a quick 2-0 lead, six minutes into the game. But the Soviets, who were in great shape, unlike Canada, stormed back and whipped Canada 7-3 as the hockey world quickly found out the Soviets did not play like amateurs.

Canada won Game 2 in Toronto and then the two teams tied in Winnipeg, before the Soviets beat Canada 5-3 in Vancouver, with the Vancouver fans booing the Canadians off the ice. Phil Esposito made a compassionate plea to the fans after the game that seemed to get the country behind the team.

It was off to Europe for the remainder of the games and after a couple of exhibition games against Sweden, Canada landed in Moscow for Game 5. Canada came out strong and led 4-1 with 11 minutes left in the game but the Soviets struck back with four goals to win and take a 3-1-1 lead.

Henderson’s heroics started in Game 6 when he scored the winner in a 3-2 victory for Canada and then he scored with 2:06 left in the third in Game 7 to give the Canadians a 4-3 win. He later said that it was the best goal he ever scored as he went around four players to do so.

The series changed a bit in Game 6 when Bobby Clarke, hated in the NHL for his style of play everywhere but in Philadelphia, became a hero in Canada when he slashed Valery Kharlamov, who was the Soviet’s top player, breaking his ankle.  That was just the way it was back then.

Game 8 was almost not played. Gary Bergman and Boris Mikhailov went at it late in Game 7 and Bergman stated that the Soviet center (who was the captain of the team at the 1980 Olympics) kicked him a couple of times. The Soviets agreed that the two West German referees (Germany had been split between communist East Germany and the western siding West Germany) would not referee in Game 8 but they went back on their word. Finally, an agreement was reached to have Josef Kompalla of West Germany and Rudolf Bata of Czechoslovakia would be the two referees.

The Soviets took a 1-0 lead with Canada two-men short on a couple of questionable calls and things got really heated when J.P. Parise (father of Zach Parise) was called for a penalty. He was so upset with Kompalla, that he drew his stick back in a motion to swing it at Kompalla and ended up getting a match penalty. The game was actually refereed better the rest of the way.

Canada tied it up on the power play and the teams traded goals in the first period as it ended in a 2-2 tie.

The two teams traded goals as Shadrin made it 3-2 for the Soviets but defenseman Bill White tied it up before Yakushev and Vasiliev gave the Soviets a 5-3 lead heading into the third.

I was watching the game in my basement on out 19-inch black-and-white tv. There were 20 million people living in Canada and it was said the 16 million watched the game.

Canada needed an early goal and Esposito got it 2:27 into the third. Canada tied it up at 5 when Yvan Cournoyer scored at the 12:56 mark of the third but after the goal there was a big kerfuffle across the ice.

Apparently, the goal light did not go on after the goal and NHLPA president Allan Eagleson went crazy. The Soviet soldiers did not like his attitude and were ready to arrest him when center Peter Mahovlich went over the boards to rescue Eagleson and brought him to the safety of the Canadian bench.

That was something as the whole Canadian team poured over the bench and took Eagleson away from the Soviets.

Canada kept coming but couldn’t score. With 1:44 left in the game and the faceoff in the Canadian end, Canada huddled (I have never seen anyone do that since).

The tension in Canada was unbearable.

With less than a minute left, Henderson called Cournoyer off the ice and made his mad dash to the Soviet end of the ice.

Foster Hewitt: Henderson takes a wild stab at it and falls…right in front to Henderson…scores…HENDERSON HAS SCORED FOR CANADA

There were 34 seconds left in the game and the third straight game winner for Henderson.

A nation rejoiced.

A couple of tidbits…The light did not go on after the Henderson’s goal. The goal judge at that end of the rink was Viktor Tikhonov who soon became the head coach of the Soviets and was their coach at the 1980 Olympics. When the Soviets went after the game to show the Canadian contingent that there was a malfunction with the light, somehow it worked every time.

Rotoworld’s Corey Abbott currently resides in the house that Foster Hewitt lived in for most of his adult life. Some mail once in a while still comes to the door, addressed to Foster Hewitt.

PREVIOUSLY ON MY FAVORITE GOAL
McCarty shows off goal-scoring hands during 1997 Cup Final
Ovechkin scores ‘The Goal’ as a rookie
• Malik’s stunning shootout winner vs. Capitals

Michael Finewax is entering his 14th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.

My Favorite Goal: Malik’s stunning shootout winner vs. Capitals

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Welcome to “My Favorite Goal,” a regular feature from NBC Sports where our writers and personalities remember the goals that have meant the most to them. These goals have left a lasting impression and there’s a story behind each one.

Today, Scott Charles remembers Marek Malik’s wild shootout-winning deke against the Capitals in 2005.

14 years ago, the shootout was still a new phenomenon in its first year of existence.

The NHL implemented the game-deciding method after a lockout to add a unique level of excitement and create a stand-alone moment within the game for players to showcase their individual skills. Fans have seen plenty of breakaway attempts and penalty shots throughout the years, but the concept of a singular moment with the game on the line created a buzz.

Many NHL stars struggled to adapt to the one-on-one event while several unknown players became heroes overnight.

Marek Malik of the New York Rangers used his opportunity to cement his legacy in the organization’s history.

Rangers coach Tom Renney elected to send Malik over the boards in the 15th round on November 26, 2005 when New York squared off against the Washington Capitals.

Renney had few options at the time because shooters are not allowed to shoot twice unlike international competitions. But when the six-foot six-inch offensively challenged defenseman took the ice, a moment about to be etched into NHL history.

The big fellow skated to the right, majestically slid the puck between his legs and released a wrist shot that sent Madison Square Garden into a frenzy for the second time that day!

“I was expecting to see a shot,” Renney remembered. “I certainly was not expecting, as was no one else in the building expecting to see what he did. It was completely out there and maybe that was the right approach. Maybe Malik was having just enough fun watching all of this as I think we all did. It kind of didn’t matter so go try something. He did and it worked.”

The Rangers and the NBA’s Knicks often play the same day at MSG, but on this Saturday both teams left the venue with thrilling victories. Nate Robinson drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer to propel the Knicks to an overtime win against the Philadelphia 76ers prior to Malik’s beauty.

Malik had the chance to become a fan favorite because Jason Strudwick answered the bell in the round prior.

Bryan Muir of the Capitals scored and Renney had to make a very difficult decision; he needed to find someone to respond. The three remaining players who hadn’t shot yet were Strudwick, Darius Kasparaitis and Malik.

“He (Kasparaitis) kept looking at me every time I looked toward that end of the bench,” Renney said. “I was doing everything I could to not make eye contact with him. Kasparaitis was doing everything he could to make eye contact with me and Strudwick was doing everything he could to not make eye contact with me. There was a certain irony in all of that.”

Even though Strudwick lacked confidence Renney selected him anyway.

“I was thinking there was no way I was going to score,” Strudwick said while chuckling. “I remember Tom calling my name I pretended I did not hear him. He looked over and I was like ‘Oh God.’ Over my career I wasn’t really an offensive type guy. Part of me was praying someone would have scored earlier to just end it, but part of me was thinking I actually want a chance at this.”

Malik’s shootout goal encapsulates the spirit of the unlikely hero. A reminder of the underdog moments of triumph hockey can create.

Depth defensemen and bottom-six forwards are often overlooked and viewed as replaceable players, but the ‘Malik Deke’ was another reminder how talented each NHL player is despite their role on any team.

PREVIOUSLY ON MY FAVORITE GOAL
McCarty shows off goal-scoring hands during 1997 Cup Final
Ovechkin scores ‘The Goal’ as a rookie

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

My Favorite Goal: Ovechkin scores ‘The Goal’ as a rookie in 2006

Welcome to “My Favorite Goal,” a regular feature from NBC Sports where our writers and personalities remember the goals that have meant the most to them. These goals have left a lasting impression and there’s a story behind each one.

Today, James O’Brien remembers Alex Ovechkin‘s sprawling goal against the Coyotes during his rookie season in 2006.

The greatest goal scorer I’ve ever seen scored the greatest goal I’ve ever seen.

Hockey generally isn’t a sport that’s friendly to stars shining with huge individual moments, at least not compared to other sports. That’s what makes all of the symmetry so special, why even Ovechkin struggles to explain how he did it, and how his Capitals teammates couldn’t even replicate the moment in practice.

Unlike some other favorite goals, Ovechkin’s goal wasn’t directly important. It wasn’t even important in the game it happened; his crummy Capitals were already up 5-1 against the also-crummy Coyotes on Jan. 16, 2006 when Ovechkin scored “the goal.”

Ovechkin snatched the puck in the neutral zone, blasted past defenseman Paul Mara with a curl-and-drag move, but Mara took Ovechkin off of his feet. That should have been the end of it: a blur of speed and power that served as a reminder that Ovechkin can make something out of nothing.

And then he really made something out nothing.

Ovechkin was essentially spinning on his back and neck, yet he somehow found a way to not only get a shot off, but to hook his arm in a way that sent the puck right into the net. A sprawling Brian Boucher couldn’t do anything about it, and even Wayne Gretzky had to marvel at the replay during his darkest hockey days as coach of the Coyotes.

Gretzky’s face would be our face … if his jaw also hit the floor.

Ovechkin’s goal against the Coyotes was one of those albums that only gets better the more you listen to it, or a movie that only improves with further viewings. What I’m saying is that it was “The Big Lebowski” of goals.

Brooks Laich really tied the explanation together when he explained what made it so special to the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan in a great retrospective of its 10-year anniversary in 2016:

” … This had so many facets: cutting across the ice, pulling the puck in tight, getting hit by a defender, rolling away from the net and facing away from the net and then hooking your arm around and getting it on the puck and directing it into the net,” Laich said. “There were so many variables in that goal that you really had to watch it so many times to really understand how special it was.”

What it meant to Ovechkin

“The goal” came at a powerful time for Ovechkin during a rookie season where he’d ultimately beat out Sidney Crosby for the 2005-06 Calder Trophy.

Ovechkin managed his first hat trick during the game before “the goal,” scoring three against the then-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim on Jan. 13, 2006. Managing a goal like that against the Coyotes, and doing so in front of Gretzky, had to feel like a “you made it” moment for Ovechkin as a rookie.

“Obviously lucky, but I’ll take it,” Ovechkin said, via the Canadian Press’ Stephen Whyno in 2016. “For that moment, it was unbelievable time. My dream was come true: I play in the NHL, I did that kind of special goal and Gretzky was there, as well.”

It’s tough to argue with former Capitals GM George McPhee’s assessment of Ovechkin: that he’s just that hungry to score goals.

“He never gave up on that,” McPhee said. “That’s why he’s a great goal-scorer: He just has a phenomenal shot, but it’s the desire to score. He’s always been so hungry to score.”

Zooming out

You might compare Ovechkin’s unthinkable goal to Odell Beckham Jr.’s seemingly impossible one-handed catch from November 2014. Both were superb physical talents doing impossible things, even as rookies, providing highlights that became downright iconic. Each player also can’t claim that the specific highlight reel moment was that important, as neither player’s team made the playoffs that year, and Beckham Jr.’s Giants even lost that game.

In considering Ovechkin’s goal, something emerged from my heart — or maybe my subconscious — for me, and maybe other hockey fans of a certain age, the early days of Ovechkin – Crosby had parallels to Sammy Sosa vs. Mark McGwire.

After an ugly MLB strike, the baseball world was captivated by Sosa and McGwire trading homers, and drumming their race quite amicably. The NHL needed its own ray of sunshine after the abominable full-season lockout of 2004-05, and it got some help from a bucket of goals (plus, not coincidentally, more penalties), but also the promise of two budding young superstars in Crosby and Ovechkin. Some grumbled at all the attention they received. Yet, in retrospect, those grumblings should have been silenced by that absolutely ridiculous sprawling goal.

That it happened in what was essentially garbage time made it powerful in its own way: if you miss a game, you might miss Ovechkin or some other superstar pulling off something mind-blowing.

The Ovechkin goal didn’t “save hockey,” nor did the Crosby – Ovechkin rivalry, or even any series or team.

That goal was a big part of soothing my hockey soul, as was that thrilling, and wild season. Although, come to think of it … maybe my jaw pops because of all the times it hit the floor while I stopped, paused, and rewound that astonishing video.

PREVIOUSLY ON MY FAVORITE GOAL
McCarty shows off goal-scoring hands during 1997 Cup Final

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Our Line Starts podcast: Lucic suspension; Blues soldier on without Tarasenko

Liam McHugh, Keith Jones, and Patrick Sharp react to Milan Lucic defending the sucker punch that got him suspended. The Blues keep winning without Vladimir Tarasenko; are they built to contend for another Cup? Plus, an interview with Mathew Barzal of the Islanders, who talks about the influence of Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz, the challenge of having two home arenas, and his detailed recollection of Josh Bailey‘s OT goal against the Penguins last year. The guys also take a surprise call from a mysterious Dominik Hasek impersonator.

0:00-2:00 Intros
2:00-7:40 Milan Lucic defends his sucker punch
7:40-13:20 Blues winning without Tarasenko
13:20-16:45 The guys reveal their favorite goals of all-time
17:00-25:35 Michael Farber interviews Mathew Barzal
25:35-31:55 Reaction to the Isles’ 10-game winning streak
31:55-end Mystery phone call from “The Dominator”

Our Line Starts is part of NBC Sports’ growing roster of podcasts spanning the NFL, Premier League, NASCAR, and much more. The new weekly podcast, which will publish Wednesdays, will highlight the top stories of the league, including behind-the-scenes content and interviews conducted by NBC Sports’ NHL commentators.

Where you can listen:

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/id1482681517

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/nbc-sports/our-line-starts

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/7cDMHBg6NJkQDGe4KHu4iO?si=9BmcLtutTFmhRrNNcMqfgQ

NBC Sports on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/nbcsports