This year’s Stanley Cup final between the Sharks and Penguins has been a tight one, with two games going into overtime. And in a series packed with superstars and future Hall of Famers, it was two relatively unknown rookies who got to play hero, as Pittsburgh’s Conor Sheary and San Jose’s Joonas Donskoi found the net.
The two players joined a relatively exclusive club. According to the archives at hockey-reference.com and NHL.com, Donskoi’s goal was the 86th overtime winner in nearly a century of Stanley Cup final history. Some of those have been scored by legends, including Bobby Orr, Guy Lafleur, Mike Bossy and Maurice Richard (three times). But others, like Sheary and Donskoi’s, have been scored by more obscure names. So today, let’s look back on five little-known names at the time who found themselves with the game on their stick in sudden death, and came through with the biggest goals of their lives.
2006: Fernando Pisani, Oilers
Before: Pisani was in his third NHL season, and was coming off a career best 18 goals. It’s probably fair to say that, prior to the playoffs, not many fans outside Edmonton knew his name. But that was before Pisani went on one of history’s great postseason hot streaks, scoring five goals in an opening round upset of the Red Wings and then twice more in each of the next two rounds. He’d already added two more in the final against the Hurricanes by the time the Oilers found themselves facing elimination in overtime in Game 5.
The goal: With the Hurricanes on the powerplay and the Carolina crowd on its feet in anticipation of the Cup-winning goal, Pisani picked off a pass at the blueline and went in alone to score the first shorthanded overtime goal in Cup final history.
“They have time to kill now, folks. Time. To. Kill. Now.” Bob Cole is the best.
After: Pisani’s hot streak continued with goals in Games 6 and 7, giving him 14 total in 24 games. He never topped that number in five more regular seasons, and the 2006 run ended up including the last playoff goals of his NHL career, which ended in 2011.