Niclas Wallin scored four playoff goals in his career - all were game-winners and three were in overtime. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)
Night No. 1 on the playoff schedule treated fans to two overtime games and fantastic goaltending. And as it goes along, you can bet the entertainment value will ramp up.
Alex Steen gave the Blues a series lead with his overtime marker and Bryan Bickell gave the Hawks the edge – which was his second overtime playoff goal in as many years.
With his goal, Bickell became one of 87 current and former NHLers to score more than one overtime goal in the post-season. And while familiar names such as Joe Sakic, Jaromir Jagr and Jeremy Roenick sit at the top of this all-time list, there are some unlikely heroes as well.
Today we feature the Top 10 most unlikely playoff heroes, who scored at least two overtime winners.
10. Adam Henrique
The young Devils forward was demoted to the minors at the start of last season, but soon after found himself on the Devils top line. He entered the 2012 playoffs without any NHL experience on that stage, but that didn’t stop him from contributing in a big way to the New Jersey’s unlikely run to the final. Henrique scored the Game 7 overtime winner in Round 1 against the Panthers - and later clinched New Jersey’s spot in the Stanley Cup final with a Game 6 overtime winner against the Rangers.
9. Kirk Maltby
The Red Wings were driven by their superstars through the ‘90s and ‘00s, but it was their depth that kept them as serious Stanley Cup contenders for so long. Kirk Maltby topped out at 14 regular season goals and recorded 16 career playoff markers. Maltby scored twice in playoff overtime in his career, both times in Game 1.
8. Mikkel Boedker
The eighth overall selection in the 2008 NHL draft scored 11 goals for the Coyotes last season and started the playoffs with four post-season games under his belt. Phoenix’s Round 1 series against Chicago was a wild one, with five of its six games going to overtime. With the series split at one, Boedker notched the overtime winners in Games 3 and 4 to give the Coyotes a stranglehold.
7. Randy McKay
When the Devils were a dominant Cup threat through the mid-to-late ‘90s, Randy McKay was a reliable player who epitomized the Devils’ dogged depth. He played 123 playoff games in his career, but when he started the 1995 post-season, he had two playoff goals to his name. He would score eight that year, including a Game 4 overtime marker that gave New Jersey a 3-1 series lead in the opening round. He’d score another six years later in Round 2 that evened New Jersey’s series with Toronto.
6. Sergio Momesso
One of the most fun names to say, Momesso wasn’t much fun to play against, logging 1,557 career penalty minutes. In the playoffs, the Montreal native scored one overtime winner against Toronto in 1990 and another against Dallas in 1994 – the year his Canucks advanced to the Stanley Cup final.
5. Sergei Krivokrasov
Before he scored 25 goals in Nashville, Sergei Krivokrasov toiled for the Chicago Blackhawks. In 1995-96, Krivokrasov entered the playoffs without a point in 10 prior games, but his first was an overtime winner against the Avalanche that capped off a great Blackhawks comeback. The next year, Krivokrasov scored his second playoff goal and point in his career – also an overtime winner. He never recorded any other post-season points.
4. Bryan Bickell
Tuesday night’s goal gave his team an early lead in its first round series, but last year’s marker against Phoenix evened up that series. He’s an underrated contributor from the depth lines on Chicago, but he’s a worker bee who gets himself in the right spots.
3. Stephane Matteau
A 24-year-old Matteau was traded from Chicago to the Rangers along with Brian Noonan for Tony Amonte and Matt Oates in March of 1994. He finished the season with 19 goals between the two teams. The Quebec native scored not one, but two overtime winners in the East final for the Rangers that season, including the famous Game 7 marker that advanced New York to the Cup final.
2. Martin Gelinas
A longtime and reliable NHLer, but it was a minor stretch to call him a 20-goal scorer. Gelinas is the only player to score three series-clinching goals in the same playoff and two of them came in overtime as Calgary advanced to the 2004 Stanley Cup final.
1. Niclas Wallin
This is easily the most unexpected playoff savior around. Niclas Wallin’s best offensive seasons came when he scored 10 points on three occasions. He registered 21 regular season goals in 614 career games. In the playoffs though, he was Mr. Right Place At The Right Time. In 93 post-season games, Wallin scored four goals that were all game-winners – and three of them came in overtime. In Carolina, he became known as The Secret Weapon – and in the THN office a poster commemorates his unlikely achievements.