In Sunday’s Game 6 against the Blues, the Bruins were able to do something that hadn’t been accomplished since 2011: force Game 7.
Coincidentally, the last team to force Game 7 in the Final were the 2011 Bruins, who went on to defeat the Canucks 4-0 in the final game and clinch the Stanley Cup title. Eight years later, they’ll look to do it again.
Prior to Wednesday’s matchup, there will have been just 16 Game 7s in SCF history over the course of 95 years . Out of those 16 sudden death matchups, the home team has won 12. However, it’s the road team has won the last two (2011 and 2009 between the Penguins and Red Wings).
As the Blues look to redeem themselves and win their first-ever Cup title, the Bruins will look to win for the seventh time in franchise history. To commemorate the occasion, here’s a look back at all those Game 7s and a definitive ranking.
1. Colorado Avalanche 3, New Jersey Devils 1 (2001)
The Avalanche’s 2001 Stanley Cup run was full of storylines, which is why their Game 7 victory was so memorable – and perhaps the greatest one in NHL history. After forcing Game 7 on the road against the Devils, they returned home to Pepsi Center and captured their second Stanley Cup title with a 3-1 win, thanks to two goals from Alex Tanguay and a standout performance from Patrick Roy.
But what made the win even more impressive and the Game 7 one of the best in league history was how it capped a legendary career for Ray Bourque, who was the biggest narrative of the playoffs. In what was surely his last NHL game regardless of the outcome, he had one final shot at winning the Cup in his 21-season career.
Finally, after an entire career with Boston before being dealt earlier in the year, he did it, capping off a legendary career.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs 2, Detroit Red Wings 1 (1942)
The Game 7 between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings in 1942 was the first Game 7 in SCF history. Toronto had been down 3-0 to Detroit heading into Game 4, but led by captain Syl Apps, the Maple Leafs were able to pull off a tremendous comeback to even up the series. They capped the season off with a 2-1 victory in Game 7.
Toronto’s comeback bid was the first time in NHL history that a team was able to come back from a 3-0 series deficit in the Stanley Cup Final, and overall, the feat had only been accomplished three times in the playoffs alone. To see something like that was revolutionary at the time and the catalyst of it all.
3. Edmonton Oilers 3, Philadelphia Flyers 1 (1987)
The final showdown between the star-studded Oilers team and the Broad Street Bullies culminated in one of the most physical series in league history.
The Flyers had clawed back from a 3-1 series deficit to win Games 5 and 6, leaving questions for Wayne Gretzky and the Oilers heading into Game 7 at Northlands Coliseum. Things looked like the matchup would go Philadelphia’s way when they opened the scoring on an early 5-on-3, but a goal from Mark Messier would even things up six minutes later. After that, the Oilers were able to get goals from Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson to secure the win, all off passes from Gretzky.
Despite the result, it was Ron Hextall that stole the show with a 40-save performance, which made the game even more exciting.
Hextall would be the Conn Smythe winner given his excellent playoff performance, making him the fourth player to be named the playoff MVP despite being from the losing team. This was also the last time a team would skate off the ice with the Stanley Cup after winning, as the Oilers would win yet another title in 1988 and start the tradition of taking a photo with the Cup.
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4. Toronto Maple Leafs 2, Detroit Red Wings 1 (1945)
Three years after falling to Toronto in the Final, the Red Wings would get their chance at a rematch. However, they saw a similar fate in yet another seven-game series, falling 2-1 in Game 7. However, there seemed to be more at stake in this particular final matchup, and the backstory proved to be just as impressive as the first one.
Both teams were being backed by rookie goaltenders, something unheard of at the time. Harry Lumley, the Red Wings netminder, had become the youngest goaltender to play in the NHL just a year prior, and Frank McCool was filling in for Turk Broda, who was overseas with the Canadian Army.
Although Babe Pratt broke the tie in Game 7 to win the game 2-1 for Toronto, marking the first time ever that the home team lost in a Game 7 in the SCF, the Detroit crowd chanted for Lumley in the end after he’d left the ice quickly following the defeat. He went on to have a Hall of Fame career; McCool played just 22 more games at the NHL level.
5. Detroit Red Wings 4, New York Rangers 3 2OT (1950)
In the third Game 7 in Stanley Cup Final history, the Red Wings were able to capture their first championship since 1943 and finally win a Game 7 in the Cup Final, having lost the previous two attempts (both against Toronto). And due to scheduling conflicts, the Red Wings would again play in Toronto, as the series marked the final time in NHL history that a Cup Final game would be played at a neutral venue, with neither team having hosted a game on home ice through the series.
This was the first-ever Game 7 in SCF history to go to overtime, with the score being deadlocked at three at the end of regulation. About nine minutes into double overtime, Pete Babando, who’d scored earlier in the night, won the game for Detroit on an odd bounce where the puck went off goaltender Doug Harvey’s glove and in.
6. Detroit Red Wings 2, Montreal Canadiens 1 (1954)
This was the second consecutive Stanley Cup Final series between the Red Wings and Canadiens, and it followed suit as it did in the past, with it all coming down to Game 7. And, just as Detroit experienced four years prior, the game required extra time; however, this took only one more period to decide.
After Detroit forward Red Kelly was able to even the score a minute into the third period on the power play, Tony Leswick was able to secure yet another title for Detroit with the OT winner less than five minutes into the fourth period to win the game 2-1.
The game, which was played on Good Friday and featured no advertisements, also marked the last time in league history that a SCF Game 7 was decided in overtime.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Detroit Red Wings 0 (1964)
In yet another final matchup between the longtime rivals, the Maple Leafs’ 4-0 Game 7 victory won them their third straight Stanley Cup title. In an intense final game, the Maple Leafs put 37 shots up against Terry Sawchuk, and they also got an outstanding performance in goal from Johnny Bower, who stopped all 33 shots he faced to blank Gordie Howe and the Red Wings.
But what made the win even more special was Toronto defenseman Bob Baun’s incredible finish to the series. He’d broken his ankle in Game 6 after being hit by a Gordie Howe shot, but he returned to score and force Game 7 – and then skated in that final game en route to the victory.
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8. Montreal Canadiens 4, Chicago Blackhawks 0 (1965)
Not only ws the Canadiens’ playoff run sweetened by the fact that they were able to put an end to their rivals three-year reign as the defending Cup champions, but it ended with an impressive 4-0 victory in Game 7 against Chicago. Gump Worsley, Montreal’s netminder that got to return to the Final for the first time in 12 seasons, stopped all 20 shots he faced in the victory for his second shutout of the playoffs.
The series marked the last time before 2003 that the home team won each game of the Final, as well as the first time there was a playoff MVP, with Jean Beliveau being named the Conn Smythe winner following the final game.
9. Detroit Red Wings 3, Montreal Canadiens 1 (1955)
In a rematch of the previous season and their third Final series of the 1950s, the Red Wings again came out on top, and this series was one that truly established the dominance Detroit had over the NHL at the time. The game secured the Red Wings’ fourth championship in six seasons and seventh title in franchise history. But not only that, the series, capped off with a solid 3-1 victory in Game 7, featured top talents in Ted Lindsay and Gordie Howe.
Alex Delvecchio had two goals in Game 7, and Howe also tallied his ninth of the playoffs to record his 12th point of the Final. The win, which put an end to a series full of records set by the Red Wings, would be Detroit’s last championship until 1997.
10. Montreal Canadiens 3, Chicago Blackhawks 2 (1971)
En route to the Canadiens’ second title in three seasons, the SCF series between Montreal and Chicago was filled with questionable coaching decisions on both fronts. Over the course of the series, both Bobby Hull and Henri Richard were benched at different points and complained openly about their respective coaches. And when a rumor spread that former Canadiens bench boss Al MacNeil gave better treatment to his English-speaking players, death threats came about and he coached Game 7 with bodyguards. The Blackhawks’ bench boss, Billy Reay, also received heavy criticism for his coaching decisions.
In Game 7, Montreal was able to overcome all the controversy edge Chicago 3-2; Richard had two goals to cap off his postseason and put the past behind him. Ken Dryden, who made his playoff debut that season and finished as the Conn Smythe winner, made 23 saves in the win, while Jean Beliveau closed out his career with another title.
11. Carolina Hurricanes 3, Edmonton Oilers 1 (2006)
The Hurricanes’ seven-game series against the Oilers was a battle night in and night out, and following a commanding 4-0 victory at Rexall Place in Game 6, Edmonton looked like it was ready to take home yet another title heading back to Carolina. However, the Hurricanes would turn the tables and prove them wrong. The main factor in that, of course, was rookie Cam Ward.
Carolina would advance to an early 2-0 lead, which was later cut to one off a goal from Fernando Pisani, the Oilers’ leading playoff scorer. However, as the Oilers battled back, Cam Ward was unstoppable and dominated as Justin Williams scored a late empty-netter to clinch the franchise’s first championship.
Ward, who was 22 at the time, finished with 22 saves on 23 shots and won the Conn Smythe Trophy. His postseason campaign ended with him boasting a 2.14 GAA and .920 save percentage.
12. New York Rangers 3, Vancouver Canucks 2 (1994)
This Game 7, the first the NHL had seen in seven years, was one of the most back-and-forth, intense matchups in SCF history.
Live from a filled Madison Square Garden, the Rangers were able to take a 2-0 lead early on, with Brian Leetch and Adam Graves striking twice in the third period. However, a shorthanded goal in the second from Trevor Linden would pull the Canucks within one before Mark Messier restored New York’s two-goal lead minutes later.
While Linden was able to strike again on the man advantage to make it a one-goal game yet again, and fans had to suffer through a risky shot that rang off the post and almost made it past Mike Richter near the end of regulation, the Rangers were able to secure the win.
The victory was made even more special due to the fact that Rangers bench boss Mike Keenan, the first coach in NHL history to have coached in two game sevens in the Final, was able to finally win this time around after falling in Game 7 back in 1987, when the Oilers defeated the Flyers 3-1.
Messier also became the first player to captain two different teams to a Stanley Cup title(he won his first Cup wearing the “C” with the 1990 Oilers). Additionally, the Rangers were able to follow through after finishing the regular season with the league’s top record.
13. Pittsburgh Penguins 2, Detroit Red Wings 1 (2009)
Playing in their first-ever Stanley Cup Final Game 7, the Penguins faced a Red Wings team that had played in six previous SCF Game 7s, posting a 3-3 record. Prior to their 2009 matchup, Detroit last played in a deciding Final game back in 1964, when they lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The game marked an exciting one for Pittsburgh, who took home their first Cup since 1991 and their third in franchise history; it also ended with Evgeni Malkin becoming the first Russian in NHL history to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Maxime Talbot had two goals for the Penguins, and though Jonathan Ericsson pulled the Red Wings with seven minutes to go in the third period, Marc-Andre Fleury was able to come up with big saves and stop 24 of 25 shots to clinch the title for the Penguins. The victory also saw captain Sidney Crosby win his first Cup title, and he would go on to win two more times in 2016 and 2017.
14. Boston Bruins 4, Vancouver Canucks 0 (2011)
As the Canucks and Sedin twins looked to win their first-ever title, the Bruins, who were playing in their SCF Game 7, were able to take the series from the Presidents’ Trophy winners with a 4-0 victory in the deciding game. The win would be powered by Tim Thomas, the Conn Smythe winner who finished with 37 saves in Game 7, as well as two goals a piece from Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
The win ended not only a 39-year Stanley Cup drought for the Bruins, but marked the final game of Mark Recchi’s memorable career, as he announced his retirement during the Bruins’ celebration.
Meanwhile, in Vancouver, the loss sparked outrage, as well as the famous 2011 Vancouver Riots.
15. Tampa Bay Lightning 2, Calgary Flames 1 (2004)
Tampa’s first-ever title saw not only stars like Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis hoist the Cup, but also saw the Lightning win after falling to a 3-2 series deficit just two games earlier. And the most impressive parts of the victory were defined by Ruslan Fedotenko and Nikolai Khabibulin, and the fact that the game came down to the last second.
Fedotenko tallied two goals in the deciding game, his second being the eventual series-winner, while Khabibulin was able to put up a wall against the Flames and even survived a dominant second period from Calgary, stopping all 16 shots that came his way in that frame. Marcus Nilson had Flames fans holding their breaths as he had the chance to even it up at the very end, but he couldn’t convert as the Lightning won a tough series.
16. New Jersey Devils 3, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 0 (2003)
In a physical, hard-fought Stanley Cup Final series that featured a battle of goaltending with both Martin Brodeur and Jean-Sébastien Giguere standing tall, it was the Devils that were able to come out and win their third title in eight seasons with a solid shutout victory in Game 7. It also marked the end to the Ducks’ outstanding playoff run that marked their first-ever Final appearance.
The game was made famous in the fact that rookie Mike Rupp, who had played in just four games, scored the game-winning playoff goal and was named the Game 7 hero, as his tally marked the first time in league history that a player’s first goal of the playoffs was a game-winner.
Brodeur, who won the Vezina the same season, stopped all 24 shots he faced and finished the postseason with a 1.65 GAA and .934 save percentage for his third title. However, it was Giguere that earned top honors and ultimately took home the Conn Smythe, the fifth player in the league to be named playoff MVP but not win the Cup.