Best individual playoff performance debated by NHL.com panel

Best individual playoff performance debated by NHL.com panel

The NHL season has been paused because of concerns about the coronavirus, and NBCSN will try to fill the void by reliving some of the best games and moments from the past 12 years.

“Hockey Week in America” started Monday and includes 12 hours of programming each day. Friday will feature the most notable individual Stanley Cup Playoff performances since 2008, starting at 8 p.m. ET with Game 6 of the 2016 Eastern Conference First Round between the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers, when Islanders captain John Tavares scored the tying goal at 19:06 of the third period and series-winning goal in the second overtime. The network will also air Game 7 of the 2019 Western Conference Second Round between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues, when Stars goalie Ben Bishop made 52 saves in a double-overtime loss, at 10 p.m. ET. Game 5 of the 2013 Western Conference Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings, when Patrick Kane‘s hat trick helped the Blackhawks advance to the Stanley Cup Final, will begin at 12 a.m. ET Saturday.

The best Game 7 overtime thrillers in the playoffs were debated Monday, and four of the best playoff rivalry games were debated Tuesday. Notable NHL outdoor games were debated Wednesday and notable Stanley Cup-clinching games were debated Thursday. The best games of the Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby rivalry will be showcased Saturday. 

NHL.com asked three of its writers to pick their favorite game from among the field each day. Today, the most notable individual playoff performance:

Tim Campbell, staff writer

They’re all heroic options, but no individual performance mattered more than Patrick Kane’s hat trick that gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-3 double-overtime win against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 of the 2013 Western Conference Final at United Center. Kane’s three goals had massive consequences; in that regard, it’s not even close. They stopped the Kings’ bid to win the Stanley Cup for a second straight season, and keep in mind that Los Angeles won the Cup again in 2014. So Kane’s feat to make the defending champs the former champs has to be considered historic. Sometimes hat tricks happen by accident, good fortune and even empty-net goals, but none of that was in play. Kane’s first goal of the game, at 5:59 of the first period, is vintage Kane, finding a loose puck in the slot and employing patience to wait for the defenders to fall away and goalie Jonathan Quick to flop himself out of position, and voila, an open net appeared. The second goal was a quick release from about 12 feet at 16:08 of the third that showed off his fast hands. And if you thought that was a fast delivery, how about the conversion of the 2-on-1 pass from linemate Jonathan Toews at 11:40 of the second overtime? Elite skill in a pressure-packed situation. Doesn’t that about describe Kane on most days? 

Brian Compton, deputy managing editor

The New York Islanders knew how much pressure was on them to close out the best-of-7 series against the Florida Panthers in Game 6 of the 2016 Eastern Conference First Round at Barclays Center. They were fully aware of the history, how they hadn’t played in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 1993. John Tavares, who was the face of the Islanders and their captain, was by far their best forward throughout the series and saved his biggest moments for last. Tavares pounced on a loose puck in the crease and tied the game 1-1 with 54 seconds remaining in the third period, then beat goalie Roberto Luongo on a wraparound at 10:41 of the second overtime to give New York a 2-1 victory and its first playoff series win in 23 years. After the game, it was easy to see the euphoria and relief in the faces of several players, including Tavares. There was an extra level of excitement in his voice given everything the Islanders had been through not only since he was the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, but also during the previous two decades.

Video: FLA@NYI, Gm6: Islanders celebrate 2OT clincher

Nick Cotsonika, columnist

OK, he lost. But Ben Bishop’s performance for the Dallas Stars against the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the 2019 Western Conference Second Round will long be remembered in each city. It’s not just that Bishop made 52 saves in a 2-1 double-overtime loss to the eventual Stanley Cup champions. He got Dallas to OT, blanking the Blues when they outshot the Stars 31-4 in the second and third periods with the score tied 1-1. He made 11 more saves in the first OT. He wasn’t beaten in the second OT until a rebound went off his mask. And who banged it in? Pat Maroon, another hometown boy. The game was in St. Louis, where Bishop and Maroon each grew up. On the wall in the Blues’ new practice facility hangs a photo, blown up larger than life, of Bishop and Maroon greeting each other after the game with the St. Louis flag in the background, an inspiration to the next generation.