Wednesday night will mark the first Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final since 2011. It has been eight long years since arguably the most intense single game in professional sports has taken place. Fans of the Boston Bruins will remember that night fondly, as the club blanked Vancouver 4-0 to win the Stanley Cup. The Bruins are hoping that tonight will be a repeat performance for the franchise.
Both the cities of St. Louis and Boston are on edge, both sides will host large watch parties tonight and fans all around the world woke up this morning with a sense of anxiety and nervousness for the night to come. History will be made no matter. The Bruins are hosting their first ever Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final, while the Blues are just one win away from the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
In honor of the rare Game 7 in the Final, let’s take a look back at previous Game 7’s since 2000.
2011: Boston @ Vancouver
The Bruins were in a similar position to the Blues eight years ago. Boston was the big and physical team with a strong goaltender, elite defense and enough skill to make you pay. Vancouver was the highly skilled team that ran through the regular season and defeated some giants on their way to the Final. The big difference? Boston is not the soft and rattled team Vancouver was eight years ago.
In an interesting series, the Canucks won three close games at home, while the Bruins dominated at home three times to force Game 7. The Bruins were the first team to win on the road, and thus won the series via a 4-0 Game 7 victory in Vancouver. The Canucks were never really in the game, and Tim Thomas ended a remarkable run with a shutout victory.
2009: Pittsburgh @ Detroit
Marc-Andre Fleury and Max Talbot become heroes in Pittsburgh a decade ago. Talbot scored both goals in the Penguins’ 2-1 road victory in Game 7, while Fleury made one of the best saves of the decade in the final seconds to preserve the victory. Dan Bylsma, like Craig Berube now, was serving as the interim head coach of a talented team that vastly underachieved during the regular season. This would be the true end of Detroit’s dynasty era and would pass the torch to the Crosby-led Penguins.
2006: Edmonton @ Carolina
The last team to win Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at home was the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina claimed their first ever Stanley Cup by holding off a Cinderella Oilers team that made it all the way to Game 7 after entering the playoffs as the eight seed in the Western Conference. After Dwayne Roloson tore his ACL in Game 1, Edmonton was forced to start backup Jussi Markkanen the rest of the way. Even after a shutout win at home in Game 6, Markkanen couldn’t hold Carolina off.
Frank Kaberle would score the Cup-winning goal, while Justin Williams polished the 3-1 victory off with an empty-netter.
2004: Calgary @ Tampa Bay
Prior to the lockout that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season, The Flames and Lightning battled in one of the better Cup Final series of the decade. Calgary thought they won Game 6 in overtime, but a controversial no-goal called allowed the Bolts to take things in OT and force a Game 7 at home. Nikolai Khabibulin was stellar in the clincher, while Ruslan Fedotenko was the hero for the Bolts up front.
The Ukrainian native scored twice, once in the first and once in the second, in Tampa Bay’s 2-1 victory. Like Carolina two years later, it was the first Stanley Cup victory in franchise history. This game also marked the end of the NHL on ABC/ESPN era.
2003: Anaheim @ New Jersey
Not that long ago, Game 7 was common in the Final. The Ducks and Devils kicked off a stretch where three straight Finals went to Game 7. The Cinderella Ducks could not take down the dynastic Devils, even after Paul Kariya provided hockey history with one of the most chilling moments ever earlier in the series. “Off the floor, on the board!” is the top memory for most hockey fans from this series, but there were plenty more. JS Giguere, although on the losing side, won the Conn Smythe Trophy. Many think Tuukka Rask could repeat that feat tonight.
New Jersey took Game 7 by a score of 3-0.
2001: New Jersey @ Colorado
Outside of 2011, this is the Game 7 that fans of the Bruins will remember forever. Yes, Alex Tanguay scored twice and Joe Sakic added an insurance maker in a 3-1 victory that dethroned the defending Champions. Yes, it was Colorado’s second Stanley Cup in franchise history and the first Game 7 since 1994.
Most importantly, it gave fans of the Avalanche, Bruins, and hockey in general one of the greatest moments in the history of the sport. Finally, Ray Bourque got his Stanley Cup.