|ESPN.com: NHL Playoffs 2013||[Print without images]|
It always feels like such a blur when you reach the end of the playoffs, the four rounds seemingly blending into one continuous stream of activity.
But as we say goodbye to the 2013 playoffs and congratulate the Blackhawks on their championship run, here's a look at some of our favorite moments:
Leafs vs. Bruins, Game 7, Eastern Conference quarterfinals
Hard to believe the Boston Bruins' long march to the finals nearly ended in the first round, but what a night that was at TD Garden in Boston when the Toronto Maple Leafs held a 4-1 lead with about half the third period remaining.
But the Bruins kept picking away, and Patrice Bergeron tied it in the final minute with Zdeno Chara providing the perfect screen. Bergeron would then send the Leafs home with the overtime winner. For sheer drama, that third period and overtime were as good as it got this spring and served as a constant reminder of the fine line between opportunity lost and seizing the moment.
Penguins vs. Islanders, Game 5, Eastern Conference quarterfinals
This game marked the first time since Marc-Andre Fleury became a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins that he did not start a postseason game for the team. Coach Dan Bylsma replaced Fleury with Tomas Vokoun, and Vokoun started the rest of the playoffs. Although management and the coaching staff say they remain committed to Fleury as the team's starter moving forward, it's difficult to imagine how this did not mark some sort crossing of the Rubicon.
Red Wings vs. Blackhawks, Game 6, Western Conference semifinals
With the Chicago Blackhawks facing elimination on the road, Michael Frolik was awarded a penalty shot after being slashed while on a breakaway by Detroit Red Wings defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo in the third period. He scored on a nifty backhand move and the Blackhawks would win to force a Game 7. What made this goal so special was that, in a playoff year that was marked by questions about the standards of officiating in the postseason, it was correct -- but nonetheless a gutsy call for the referees to make.
|The Bruins' first-round Game 7 comeback set the tone for a spectacular playoffs in 2013.|
Red Wings vs. Blackhawks, Game 7, Western Conference semifinals
Speaking of which, this was a game of high drama and at least a little controversy. With time running out in regulation, the Blackhawks mounted a rush that led to a Niklas Hjalmarsson blast beating Jimmy Howard. Game over.
At the same time, referee Stephen Walkom had called coincidental minors behind the play when Kyle Quincey pummeled Brandon Saad into the Detroit bench. No goal. The call was roundly panned, and, had the Red Wings won, it would have been a mighty blemish on a great playoff year. But Brent Seabrook sent Chicago into the Western Conference finals with a blast of his own.
Sharks vs. Kings, Game 7, Western Conference semifinals
With time running out in regulation and the San Jose Sharks trailing 2-1, Joe Pavelski found himself with the puck on his stick in front of the Los Angeles Kings' net after a faceoff win by San Jose. Slightly off balance, Pavelski couldn't get good wood on the puck, and his shot was corralled by Los Angeles netminder Jonathan Quick's mitt.
The Kings would hold on and advance to the Western Conference finals, and Pavelski no doubt will have many sleepless nights thinking about what might have happened.
|The Hawks-Red Wings series almost ended in controversy.|
Penguins vs. Bruins, Game 3, Eastern Conference finals
The Penguins had dropped two games at home to open the conference finals and found themselves in double overtime in a pivotal Game 3. Although Pittsburgh had a handful of glorious chances, it was Jaromir Jagr who started the decisive play as he hooked Evgeni Malkin off the puck in the neutral zone. This allowed Brad Marchand to find Bergeron streaking to the net, giving the Bruins a 2-1 victory and setting the stage for a sweep of the powerful Penguins.
Sharks vs. Canucks, Game 3, Western Conference quarterfinals
After the Vancouver Canucks lost the opening two games of the series, then-coach Alain Vigneault benched netminder Roberto Luongo and went with Cory Schneider, even though Luongo could hardly have been faulted for either loss. The move backfired big-time, as Schneider allowed five goals on 28 shots and the Sharks won 5-2; they would sweep Schneider and the Canucks in the next game. Not long after the series, Vigneault was fired -- although it's worth noting that, at the time of this writing, Luongo remains a Canuck.
Blackhawks vs. Bruins, Game 1, Stanley Cup finals
After falling behind 3-1 in the opening game of the final series, the Blackhawks slowly chipped away at the Bruins lead -- finally forcing overtime after Johnny Oduya's point shot glanced into the net off defenseman Andrew Ference's skate.
Both teams had glorious chances to win it in overtime, but the game kept going and going and going. Finally, after 112:08 of hockey had been played, Michal Rozsival's point shot caromed off Dave Bolland's stick and Andrew Shaw's leg and into the net to end the first of what would become a classic final series.
|Patrice Bergeron's goal gave Boston an almost insurmountable lead on Pittsburgh.|
Blackhawks vs. Bruins, Game 4, Stanley Cup finals
This game had it all, including a never-say-die Bruins team that erased Chicago leads of 1-0, 3-1, 4-2 and 5-4 to force overtime for the third time in the series. But OT hero Brent Seabrook scored his second extra-time game winner of the postseason, blasting a shot past a screened Tuukka Rask for an improbable 6-5 victory that evened the series at two wins apiece and turned the momentum of the series toward the Blackhawks.
Blackhawks vs. Bruins, Game 5, Stanley Cup finals
The Blackhawks took a 3-2 series lead with a 3-1 victory, but the story on this night was the fact that each team's star forward was unable to finish the game because of injury. Bergeron, runner up to Jonathan Toews for the Frank J. Selke Trophy this season, played just 6:06 before leaving the game with an injury that required hospital observation. Meanwhile, Toews had his bell rung by Johnny Boychuk in a hard open-ice hit and sat out the third period on the Chicago bench. Both returned to action, though, in Game 6.