Wayne Gretzky is known for a lot of things, but his Game 7 against Toronto won\'t soon be forgotten. (Robert Laberge /Allsport)
The Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks will square off Thursday in the deciding game of their Western Conference semifinal series, setting the stage for some player to step up and carve out a place for himself in NHL history as a Game 7 hero. Which players already have done so over the years? Let’s look at the league’s 10 best Game 7 performances and find out…
10. Jeremy Roenick, San Jose, 2008
One of the last, best moments of Roenick’s standout career came when he was a San Jose Shark taking on Calgary in the quarterfinal. Roenick was a healthy scratch in Game 6, but answered his critics in the best possible way - with a two-goal, four-point effort to eliminate the Flames in a 5-3 win.
9. Alex Delvecchio, Detroit, 1955
The Red Wings legend and his teammates faced a tough challenge in the Stanley Cup final against the Montreal Canadiens, but Delvecchio scored Detroit’s first and last goals and assisted on the other in a 3-1 victory.
8. Ruslan Fedotenko, Tampa Bay, 2004
The undrafted Fedotenko didn’t get the hype or accolades Lightning teammates Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St-Louis received, but he did score both Bolts goals in Tampa’s 2-1 Cup-claiming victory.
7. Kelly Hrudey, Islanders, 1987
Now a Hockey Night In Canada analyst, Hrudey was goaltending for the Isles nearly a quarter-century ago in the then-Patrick Division semifinal when he was bombarded by 75 shots from the Washington Capitals in a quadruple overtime game that turned out to be the sixth-longest in league history. Hrudey stopped all but two of those shots in New York’s 3-2 win.
6. Turk Broda, Toronto, 1942
The goaltending icon starred for Toronto on a number of occasions, but never looked better than when he led the Leafs to an improbable series comeback from a 3-0 deficit. In the deciding Game 7, Broda surrendered the first goal to the Wings, but protected the net perfectly after that in a 3-1 win before a delirious crowd at Maple Leaf Gardens.
5. Henri Richard, Montreal, 1971
Known as ‘The Pocket Rocket,’ Richard was prominent in Montreal’s come-from-behind Game 7 win against Chicago in the Cup final. The Hawks were up 2-0 in the second period when Canadiens forward Jacques Lemaire scored from outside the blueline to cut the lead in half. Richard scored the next two goals to give the Habs the win.
4. Curtis Joseph, Edmonton, 1997
Joseph and the Oilers went into enemy territory in Dallas for Game 7 of their first round series - and the goalie known as ‘Cujo’ stopped 38 of 41 shots as Edmonton won 4-3 in overtime.
3. Mark Messier, Rangers, 1994
The Rangers captain famously guaranteed a win against New Jersey in the Eastern Conference final, then followed that up with the Stanley Cup-winning goal in Game 7 against Vancouver.
2. Ron Hextall, Philadelphia, 1987
It’s rare to see the Conn Smythe Trophy given to a member of the losing team, but that’s what happened to Hextall in Philly’s Cup final series loss to the Oilers. Hextall made 40 saves in a losing cause in the Flyers’ Game 7, 3-1 loss and was spectacular throughout the series.
1. Wayne Gretzky, Los Angeles, 1993
During the Campbell Conference final between Toronto and the Kings, Gretzky put up arguably the best single-game showing of his unrivaled career, recording a hat trick and virtually willing L.A. to victory over a plucky, Doug Gilmour-led Leafs squad.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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