Our top 10 postseason moments
The postseason is over, but here are 10 moments we won't forget from this spring:
East quarterfinals: Washington versus Montreal, Games 5, 6 and 7We remember talking to Washington owner Ted Leonsis on the eve of the playoffs. He suggested that if his powerful Caps team lost in the first round, it would undo a lot of the good done during a record-setting regular season that saw Washington finish a country mile ahead of the nearest competitor in the Eastern Conference.
But after taking a 3-1 series lead against the eighth-seeded Canadiens, the Caps became unraveled. They could not solve Montreal netminder Jaroslav Halak and their vaunted power play could not find its way (the Caps scored just one goal on the man advantage in the series).
Alex Ovechkin, who had made fun of Halak early in the series, could not summon enough greatness to get his team over the hump. In the end, the Capitals gave up three straight games to the Canadiens, including a loss on home ice in Game 7 to establish themselves as one of the great underachieving teams in the NHL.
West quarterfinals: Detroit versus Phoenix, Game 7The Coyotes and Red Wings battled through every shift of the series; but when the chips were on the table in Game 7, the veteran Red Wings hammered the Coyotes 6-1 with Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg leading the charge.
West quarterfinals: Chicago versus Nashville, Game 5Shorthanded and trailing by a goal late in the game, the Blackhawks took advantage of an errant Martin Erat clearing attempt to keep the puck in the Nashville zone and Patrick Kane scored to tie it with 13.6 seconds left in regulation. In overtime, Marian Hossa, who should have been ejected for a boarding penalty late in regulation, returned to the ice to score the winner and tie the series at two games apiece.
"To get by that Nashville series, that's where we really believed in ourselves," Kris Versteeg recently said. "Those guys gave us everything and more. To get by that series was huge."
West quarterfinals: Vancouver versus Los Angeles, Game 3This heated series got even hotter when a goal by Canucks forward Daniel Sedin was disallowed after it was ruled he kicked the puck into the net. Replays didn't necessarily support that call, and when the Kings went on to take a 2-1 series lead, conspiracy theorists (mostly in Vancouver) came out of the woodwork to suggest the NHL was determined to see Los Angeles move on. They didn't, of course, as the Canucks came back to win the series in six games.
West quarterfinals: Colorado versus San Jose, Games 3 and 4Despite outplaying Colorado by a wide margin in Game 3, the teams were scoreless heading to overtime. Early on in the extra session, Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle tried to rim the puck around the boards, but inadvertently sent the puck toward his own goal and it snuck by a surprised Evgeni Nabokov to give the Avs a 1-0 win and 2-1 series lead. But early in Game 4, Boyle atoned for his mistake by scoring a goal that helped the Sharks even the series. They would go on to oust the Avalanche in six games.
East semifinals: Montreal versus Pittsburgh, first period of Game 7The defending Stanley Cup champs were snowed under by a committed, plucky Montreal Canadiens team, which delivered a stunning knockout blow with four straight goals before the Pens got on the board. In the end, Montreal beat Pittsburgh 5-2 in winning its second straight Game 7 on the road. Although the Canadiens' Cinderella spring ended in five games against the Flyers in the Eastern Conference finals, they remain one of the postseason's most compelling stories.
East semifinals: Philadelphia versus Boston, Games 4-7What else is there to say about Philadelphia Flyers, who became just the third team in NHL history to erase a 3-0 deficit and win a series. They did it in dramatic fashion. First, they won Game 4 in overtime after Simon Gagne provided the heroics in his first game back from a foot injury. Then, the Flyers fell behind 3-0 in Game 7, but roared back to earn a place as one of the gutsiest teams in NHL history. The series also featured the dramatic return of netminder Michael Leighton, who was pressed back into duty in Game 5 when Brian Boucher suffered a knee injury.