As the off-season drags on, we will continue our look back at some of the greatest moments in NHL history. This installment will take us to Hockeytown, also known as Detroit, at the beginning of the Red Wings mid-‘90s dynasty, with Steve Yzerman, bringing us the moment.
The lead up:
It is a sports cliché that the best players are the ones who step up at the biggest time, and this series was a prime example. In a series that featured 11 present Hall of Famers, including arguably the best player to ever play the game, it all came down to Game 7 between the Detroit Red Wings and the St. Louis Blues. The game was scoreless. As any sports fan knows, it is harder to get better than Game 7, but try this on, Game 7 between two Stanley Cup-caliber teams tied 0-0, in the second overtime. This was an era before #BucciOvertimeChallenge, but had it existed then, you would not be short of viable players to choose from: Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, Sergei Fedorov and Igor Larionov, just to name a few. But it was Yzerman that got it done on this night.
As it tends to be in NHL playoff overtime games, the winning goal can seem to appear out of thin air. It was a rather routine moment in the game as the Red Wings were moving the puck out of their own end early in the second overtime. It was so routine that when you watch the highlight, you see two fans turn around and wave to the low-stationed cameras. As Gretzky, “The Great One,” mishandled an intercepted pass just outside of the Red Wings zone, Yzerman swooped the puck up. As Yzerman carries the puck through the neutral zone, he finds a little space just inside the Blues’ blue line and decides to take a shot. Yzerman winds up and puts everything he has into the shot, and it wound up being a one-in-a-million shot. As captured so infamously by a handheld camera behind the net, Yzerman’s perfect slap shot was a hard rising shot that sailed over goaltender Jon Casey’s (who was in perfect position and was literally unbeatable all game) shoulder and off of the crossbar and in. The Joe Louis Arena crowd ERUPTED. It was the perfect shot at the perfect time from the perfect guy and the Red Wings were advancing to the next round. Yzerman, a usually calm and collected guy leaped for joy before being dog piled on by his teammates, and even coach Scotty Bowman got caught up in the euphoria and raced out to celebration pile. It was one of the first great moments of the Red Wings ‘90s dynasty, and perhaps the most heartbreaking goal in St. Louis Blues history.
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