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Top Ten Ultimate Comebacks in NHL History

If you've seen your fair share of hockey movies, you know that miracles on ice are as real as the sport of professional hockey itself! Check out this list of the Top Ten Ultimate Comebacks in NHL history.

By Eric GreenPublished 5 years ago 7 min read

Freshly zambonied ice. A highly anticipated fight between two rivals. The blinding glint of the Stanley Cup under the lights of the rink. Hockey can be heart pumpingly, down the rest of your beer, storm-the-ice exhilarating.

But nothing says "scream until you melt the ice with your deafening shouts of fury and excitement hockey" like a good ole' comeback. Hockey has been around long enough for us to know that, as rare and as shrouded in mystery as they are, they are not total myths.

A comeback in professional hockey is the sign of triumph and conquered adversity. Regardless of who scored the last goal, or who is the underdog, the best players on the most formidable teams play until the buzzer.

On the list of the Top Ten Ultimate Comebacks in NHL History, you will see teams that have suffered heartbreaking losses against their opponents, that riled up the entire fanbase. In the most critical moments, some teams have allowed their opponents to score comeback victories. The Toronto Maple Leafs are the clearest source of these types of losses, unfortunately.

If you've seen your fair share of hockey movies, you know that miracles on ice are as real as the sport of professional hockey itself! Check out this list of the Top Ten Ultimate Comebacks in NHL history.

For those unaware or unfamiliar with hockey: the nickname "Habs" is short for Les Habitants, the early farmers of Quebec. It is in reference to the Montreal Canadiens.

Yes, the same Montreal Canadiens who were behind by five goals and seemed to be unable to hold the puck long enough to muster a goal, more or less a full blown comeback. But out of the blue (and the red, and the white), came the biggest comeback in Habs history.

The Canadiens broke a franchise record that day, by recovering from a 5-0 deficit with fiveunanswered goals. Even a die-hard Ranger fan would refer to the events of that game as a true miracle on the ice.

The Classic Kings Versus Wings. The "Stunner at Staples." The "Frenzy on Figueroa." In fact, this comeback was voted as the top five greatest moments in the Staples Center history.

No matter what you call it, April 18, 2001 was a magical day for the Kings. After falling behind 3-0 late into the third period, the Kings finally say "enough is enough." They return with their heads on their shoulders and their pucks in the net, with three unanswered goals.

Rookie Eric Belanger would go on to hammer and nail the overtime game winning goal to win the entire series. The Kings would go on to eliminate the Redwings.

In the world of comebacks, this is that holy of holies. Comebacks in the playoffs are rare in any scenario. But doing that when versing a team on the ice that is built around making their defense as strong as physically possible? Now, that's a feat in itself.

The series was tied 1-1 and the Kings jumped out to a 4-0 lead. San Jose would score five goals after a scoreless third period. Dead even. Thank you, Devin Setoguchi, for absolutely sending it after three minutes into overtime.

This would solidify its place in NHL history as the second time a team would rally after being down four goals or more.

Monumental, said the Habs players involved in this game. Extraordinary hockey, says everyone else! Known as the ultimate comeback for two of the original six teams, the Habs-Bruins game on April 8, 1971 was the second game of the first round series against the Boston Bruins.

The Boston Bruins were the more formidable team. Scoring goals. Firing on all cylinders. The Habs would then score six straight goals to end up winning this game 7-5. All five Canadiens on the powerplay move the puck from start to finish.

Fans would later see the tale of this comeback in Sports Illustrated. On the front cover, no less!

Looking for an insane overtime comeback? Minnesota North Stars fell behind the Chicago Blackhawks on April 28, 1985. This would also be the date that they would ultimately turn around and upset the Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime.

It wouldn't matter by the end of the series, however. Chicago would go on to win the next game to eliminate Minnesota in the Stanley Cup Quarterfinal Series.

In other words, Minnesota won the battle and the Blackhawks won the war.

This comeback of the St. Louis Blues versus the Los Angeles Kings is way underrated. And this one is a perfect example of how detrimental a dumb penalty can be. In fact, a bad penalty can ultimately cost you the whole game.

Nobody knows this better than Kings' defenseman Sean O'Donnell after he was put in the box for five minutes for fighting Geoff Courtnall on the Blues. Why did he do this? Well, because Courtnall stepped up on Kings' goaltender Jamie Storr.

The Kings were winning 3-0 in the third period. All they had to do was hold onto the puck and let the clock run out. In under 3:08, St. Louis scored four power play goals.

They eventually went on to win the series 4-0. Looks like "4" was their lucky number that year.

14:31 was remaining on the clock in the third period. Toronto Maple Leafs were winning 4-1. Everybody thought this was the start to a comeback, since they were originally behind in the series 3-1 but were now ahead by three in a Game 7.

Nathan Horton of the Bruins was the next one to score for Boston, who would then go on to score two more goals with 82 seconds left. Patrice Bergeron had the final score for Boston six whole minutes into overtime.

Best comeback, or the worst Game 7 collapse in NHL history? I say both.

Back to back hat tricks by two players on opposite teams? That is, like, six backs total. Pavel Bure was the first one to fire off a hat trick in this 1999 Florida Panthers versus Colorado Avalanche showdown, helping the Panthers climb to a 5-0 lead by the second period. Those goals would not go unanswered.

In fact, Peter Forsberg would be the ultimate hero for the Avalanche in this series. They would go on to score seven unanswered goals of their own.

Forsberg finished this comeback victory with three goals and three assists.

There must have been something happening in the background here, right? Like hockey voodoo, or something. The Toronto Maple Leafs surrendered yet another five-goal lead in the third period.

Here comes the ironic part. In 2000, Toronto would secure a 5-0 lead, only to lose in overtime to St. Louis.

It is clear that Toronto didn't change much seeing as they suffered almost the same exact loss thirteen years later versus the Calgary Flames.


The Miracle on Manchester is the nickname given to the playoff game on April 10, 1982 between the Los Angeles Kings and the Edmonton Oilers. The Kings were the ultimate underdogs with a record of 24-41-15 for the season.

The Oilers seemed to have a winning formula. Thanks to their elite players and an expert coaching staff, they scored a total of 417 goals in 80 games.

The Los Angeles Kings rallied from a five goal deficit in the third period to serve the Edmonton Oilers a crushing loss in overtime. The final score was 6-5 in this Game 3 of the Smythe Division Semifinals.

Overtime clock was at 2:35. Rookie Daryl Evans of the Kings proved that he was a clutch play-maker that day, by beating Fuhr for the slap shot making history. One day, there will be an NHL that covers a deficit evenlarger. Until then, we can rightfully label the Miracle on Manchester as number one on the list of Top Ten Ultimate Comebacks in NHL History.


About the Creator

Eric Green

Productive achievement is mankind's most noble activity.

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