In most sports, you can’t leave things up to fate, and you have to keep going right until the end. Last-minute goals can bring teams from the brink of defeat back into the game for overtime, or allow one side to snatch victory at the very end. These are our favorite last-minute goals ever scored in NHL history.
St. Louis Blues vs. Boston Bruins – 2009
There are scoring last-minute goals, and then there’s leaving it until the very last second. With five minutes to go, the Blues were leading 2-1 and just needed to hold out a little longer. In the space of a few short minutes, the game was turned on its head and St. Louis found themselves 4-2 down against the Bruins. There wasn’t much time left, but the Blues managed to grab one goal back.
Now was the time to push for that last-minute equalizer, and with just one second left to go, the Blues got what they were hoping for. The Blues goaltender had just managed to stop the puck from heading into the net with a kick save and that started a counter. Keith Tkachuk took a shot and it was saved with seconds left, but the puck flew through the air into the path of David Backes.
He managed to keep his eye on the puck and swatted it from midair into the goal with his stick with just a second remaining on the clock. The game was forced into overtime, and with that momentum, the Blues were able to take the game with a successful shootout.
Los Angeles Kings vs. Edmonton Oilers – 1982
Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, and Mark Messier were all a part of the Oilers team in 1982, and they had been so far and above every other franchise. Heading into the postseason, the Oilers led the NHL with 417 goals and were second overall with 111 points. When they discovered they would be playing the Kings in the playoffs, it was meant to be a comfortable victory.
The Kings had a -55 goal differential and stood no chance against the great Oilers team. In an unexpected change of tactics, the Kings played super aggressively and focused only on scoring goals. This stunned the Oilers, and the teams shared the first two games of the series.
In the third game, the Oilers were cruising to victory after setting themselves up with a 5-0 lead. They were supposed to coast to victory from here, but the Kings kept on fighting and eventually began to pull closer. The Kings were still losing with just a minute left on the clock and with five seconds remaining Steve Bozek tied the game.
That last-gasp equalizer was enough to put the Oilers off, and the Kings won the game in overtime. They then went on and won the series by game five after upsetting the odds against the great Oilers team.
St. Louis Blues vs. Toronto Maple Leafs – 2000
When you’re 5-0 up in the final period, you should be expecting to come out of the game with the victory. The danger is becoming complacent though, and this is what happened to the Toronto Maple Leafs against the St. Louis Blues in 2000. The Blues managed to get one goal back early on and proceeded to chip away at the Maple Leafs’ lead throughout the period.
They were now just within one goal of pulling the game level, but time was ticking. Then, with only 24.4 seconds left, Alexander Khavanov managed to flip the puck past the Toronto goalie and force overtime. Once again the Blues had the momentum and sealed their amazing comeback by winning in overtime. The five-goal deficit was the greatest single period comeback in NHL history.
Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs – 2013
When a series goes to game seven, you know it’s been a close contest. In the final game of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the Maple Leafs had got themselves into a comfortable 4-1 lead. They looked to be heading to the semifinal after a long series against the Bruins. With 10:42 left on the clock, it didn’t look good for Boston, but they finally pulled one back.
There was still a lot of hockey to be played, but surely there wasn’t a comeback on? The clock kept on winding down but with 1:22 left, the Bruins pulled to within one. Now it was all about keeping the pressure on, and just 30 seconds of game time later the Bruins were level thanks to a goal from their center Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron would go on to score the winner in overtime and send the Bruins through to the next round, even though the Maple Leafs were in such a strong position.
You can’t rule out any opponent in a hockey game. Building momentum is important, and often teams in a comfortable winning position take their foot off the gas. It takes two sides for an amazing comeback though, and thanks to these teams who never gave up, we have some of the best last-minute goals in NHL history.