Uploaded on Sep 24, 2010
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With another hockey season just around the corner, TSN looks back at the most unforgettable moments of the 2009-10 NHL Season.
NHL teams have 82 games to assemble a record good enough to advance to the post-season. Some teams are so dominant that they've basically booked their playoff ticket by the time January rolls around. Other squads manage to scrape in with a few days to go, often the result of a well-timed winning streak or an unexpected collapse of another team vying for the same spot.
But this past April, a couple of franchises decided to make things a little more interesting by leaving their playoff fate until the eleventh hour, and that's not just a cliché - it actually was the last possible moment.
The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers were deadlocked with 86 points each after 81 games of the regular season. Stats like that generally make for exciting playoff chases on their own. But the icing on the cake was that, in Game No. 82, they were playing each other. The winner made the playoffs and the loser went home.
The Flyers and Rangers were tied 1-1 after 60 minutes of regulation and five minutes of overtime. As a result, it would all come down to a shootout to determine who would go to the playoffs and who would hit the golf links; talk about an all-or-nothing proposition.
No doubt nerves were on edge that night, but the boys in black and orange seemed pretty self-assured heading into this "one-off" Game 7-esque atmosphere.
"The Flyers pregame video included a bold guarantee, 'Today We Clinch.' No shortage of confidence," says TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger. "The Flyers fought through an entire season by doing things the hard way, so we should have predicted this game would come down to the wire."
With both teams having registered a marker in the shootout, the Flyers' third shooter, Claude Giroux, pulled up and buried one past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Olli Jokinen was up next for the Rangers, and his mission was pretty clear-cut: a goal on Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher would mean the shootout could continue and the Rangers would live to fight another round. If he didn't score, they would be booking tee times. No pressure, Olli.
Jokinen circled a couple of times in his own zone, picked up speed and skated in on Boucher as the Flyers' crowd looked on. Jokinen cut to his backhand and mustered only a weak shot along the ice. As Boucher turned it away with ease, the Wachovia Center in Philly went into party-mode and the boys from Broadway were sent home.
Just like that, the Flyers got the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and a playoff date with the New Jersey Devils.
"It took us right to the end to make the playoffs, but when you're in, now everybody has got the same chance to win the Cup," said then-Flyers forward Simon Gagne after the dramatic finish.