Alex Ovechkin (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Sidney Crosby’s overtime-winner in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final was the first time in his career he had scored a playoff overtime goal, but he wasn’t alone in being a star player to have never become an overtime hero.
Sidney Crosby entered Game 2 having never scored an overtime-winning goal in the post-season, and it took him all of 40 seconds of overtime Monday night to rectify that. Before fans could even get settled for the start of the frame, Crosby had wired one past Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy to make the Penguins captain the overtime hero.
Crosby’s overtime goal came in his 113th career post-season game, and the 21 times prior the Penguins had gone to overtime with Crosby in the lineup during the playoffs, he had failed to score the winner. And while it may seem bizarre that arguably the best player in the world had never scored a playoff overtime winner, he wasn’t alone. In fact, there was one famous face watching from the press box who knows exactly how Crosby was feeling leading up to Monday’s game and you’ll find him on this list.
Here are 10 stars of the game, both past and present, who either failed or have yet to become a post-season overtime hero:
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
As surprising as Crosby’s inability to score a post-season overtime winner may be, it’s that much more shocking that Ovechkin, inarguably one of the greatest goal scorers the league has ever seen, has never found the back of the net in extra time in the playoffs.
In 84 career playoff games, Ovechkin has 41 goals but not a single one has come in overtime. Of those games, 25 have gone to overtime, but Ovechkin’s patented shot has never been the one to end it. That even includes his four-point game during the 2010 post-season against Montreal. In that game, it was teammate and fellow Capitals star Nicklas Backstrom who scored the winner.
Rick Nash, New York Rangers
Nash didn’t get a lot of time to play in the post-season during the earlier years of his career considering he was often the lone offensive star on mediocre Blue Jackets teams. He’s been to the playoffs in each of his four years in New York, though. All told, he’s played in 65 playoff games, and in the 15 that have gone to overtime, Nash has never been the one to end it.
The Rangers really could have used Nash, a former Rocket Richard winner, stepping up during the 2014 post-season, too. Three of the five games of the 2014 Stanley Cup final against the Los Angeles Kings went to overtime, but Nash was held off the score sheet in each of those games. One winner from Nash could have potentially changed that series. Instead, the Kings took home their second Cup.
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
If Datsyuk chooses to retire, he’ll move to the stars of the past section of this list, but he’s still a Red Wing for the time being. And during his 150-plus post-season games in Detroit, of which 29 have gone to overtime, never once has the ‘Magic Man’ been the one to produce overtime magic.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the one thing Datsyuk dislikes most about the post-season is overtime, actually. Of the playoff games he has been a part of that have gone to overtime, the Red Wings have only won nine times — less than one-third of the total contests. He did, however, assist on the game-winner in one of those nine victories.
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
Getzlaf gets a bit of leeway here seeing as he’s more of a playmaker than a goal scorer — he’s only eclipsed the 25-goal plateau once — but the Ducks have two clearcut stars in he and Corey Perry, and they’re counted upon to come up with some heroics in the playoffs. Unfortunately, there’s been no such heroics from Getzlaf’s corner.
Almost one quarter of all of Getzlaf’s career post-season contests, 23 of 104, have gone to at least one extra frame. The Ducks have won more than half of those games, but Getzlaf hasn’t scored or assisted on any of the overtime-winning goals. That hurt during the Western Conference final last season, too, as the Ducks fell in seven games to the Chicago Blackhawks. Two of those games went to overtime.
Patrik Elias, New Jersey Devils
Few players have an overall resume as impressive as Elias’. He’s won two Stanley Cups, appeared in four All-Star Games, has more than 400 goals and 1000-plus points over the course of a nearly 20-year career. The one thing he doesn’t have, though, is an overtime-winner, which is shocking considering he was an offensive leader on a Devils team that played in quite a few overtime games during their best years.
That said, Elias does have a pretty famous assist. On June 10, 2000, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final, it was Elias who found Jason Arnott in front of the Dallas Stars’ net in the second overtime. Arnott fired the puck past Stars netminder Ed Belfour to win the Devils the Stanley Cup.
One of the most iconic moments in the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs came when Messier guaranteed a victory in Game 6 of the 1994 post-season and notched a hat trick in the Rangers' victory. That’s the stuff of legends. That said, it may shock some that ‘Moose’ never managed a single overtime playoff goal in his incredible career.
Only Wayne Gretzky, who scored 122 post-season goals, has more playoff tallies over the course of his career than Messier, yet not a single one of Messier’s goals ended an overtime game. Considering Messier has six Stanley Cups to his name, he more than gets a pass.
Howe won his first Stanley Cup in the 1950 season and he’d win three more throughout his career, and though he was undoubtedly the driving offensive force on the final three of those teams, he never once was the one to score when the games got to overtime. All told, he played 157 playoff games and scored 68 goals, but the game-winning goals in there were your run of the mill, regulation game-winners.
Most of Howe’s playoff experience came during a much different, much more high-scoring era, however. And when it takes just eight wins to win the Stanley Cup, there’s not quite as much time to rack up overtime goals. Strange to think ‘Mr. Hockey’ was never Mr. Overtime, though.
When Crosby scored, he officially moved within 30 playoff goals of surpassing Lemieux’s 76 career post-season markers, but Crosby also accomplished something Lemieux never had: score an overtime-winner. Lemieux played 107 playoff games and 11 went to overtime, and while the Mario-led Penguins went 7-4 in those games, he was never the one to put the game away.
Lemieux does, however, still boast one thing Crosby doesn’t have: a second Stanley Cup. The Penguins are only seven wins shy of getting Crosby a second championship, and we’re sure Lemieux wouldn’t mind seeing Crosby reach the two-title mark.
Possibly one of the most underrated players in history, Dionne is sometimes overlooked because he never had quite the post-season success of some of the other greats of his day. But Dionne, who ranks sixth all-time with 1,771 points, was rarely a post-season competitor. Over the course of his 18-year career, he only suited up for 49 playoff games.
Even still, Dionne had a knack for scoring some big goals. More than 10 percent of his 731 regular season tallies were game-winners, but in the post-season he only potted one game-deciding tally.
Bourque might seem out of place as the only defenseman on this list, but as the 11th-highest scorer in NHL history with 1,579 points, he more than earns his spot among those you’d expect to have been an overtime hero. In the post-season, only 12 players have scored more than Bourque’s 180 points, but Messier is the only player with more playoff points than Bourque without an overtime-winner.
No one could have ever asked more of Bourque in the playoffs, but he probably would have loved to been the one to notch a post-season OT goal at least once. He did just about everything else. A winner of the Calder Trophy and five Norris Trophies, it took Bourque 214 playoff games to finally get his first Stanley Cup.