If you're signing pictures of a goal, you know it's a big deal.
A continuation of The Leafs Nation's 'Essentials' series. For our favourite games, click here. For Bitter Leaf's full Essentials series at Puck Daddy, click here.
Danny: Mats Sundin's Game Six goal in 2002 to send it to OT JP: Joe Nieuwendyk's second Game Seven goal in 2004 Steve: Any of Steve Thomas' OT winners from the playoffs Ryan: Sundin's 500th Cam: Sundin's 500th
Before we discuss the above goals, I’d like to mention a few that should definitely be given consideration. Bill Barilko’s goal to win the Cup, Sittler’s 6th goal on his 10 point night (This game should have been given consideration as The Essential Leafs Game) Doug Gilmour’s OT wrap-around goal, Borschevky’s OT winner against the Wings. Once again there are so many possible answers to this question that it all depends on your age, and favourite player biases.
Seriously, watch all 6 of Sittler's goals here. What a night.
What’s interesting is that we all choose goals that are strictly speaking, unremarkable. Without the context none of them would likely be considered highlight reel or even memorable goals. Sundin shovelled a loose puck over Irbe’s pad. Nieuwendyk beat Lalime with a floater from just inside the blue-line. Steve Thomas only ever scored through sheer will. I’d say Sundin’s OT winner is the closest thing to a “nice” goal on this list, and even then it’s obviously the context that makes it special. While things have been bad for this franchise, these goals remind us that this club has done some amazing things, even within the past 10 years.
2002 Eastern Conference Finals, Game Six, late in the third period with the Leafs trailing. I’ve already written about this season at great length, and you all hopefully remember it well. This was/is the happiest/most excited I’ve ever been as a Leafs’ fan. I was in Grade 11 at the time and had gone out on a date prior to the game. We went to see the second Star Wars prequel and I cannot remember literally anything about the movie or the date. But I can remember exactly where I was and what I felt like after Sundin scored that goal.
I grew up outside of a small town, we had just gotten satellite that Christmas and it allowed us to watch a different channel on each TV in the house for the first time ever. I was sitting on the floor in my mom’s room watching the game on a tiny less than 20inch TV. When Sundin hammered that rebound home I immediately began screaming and ran to the other end of the house to celebrate. I didn’t see a replay of that goal until I watched it on youtube a few years ago. I was elated. The game was going to OT, I made my sisters turn off whatever dumb show they were watching and put the game on the big-screen. Then Martin Gelinas happened. Ugh. I went from honestly believing that the Leafs would win in OT and advance to the Finals to having all my hopes and dreams torn away from me. (Do you see the theme in these posts)
I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t at least feign a little bit of anger at Mogilny for that Gelinas goal. First he lazily throws the puck behind the net where it is intercepted, then he lets Gelinas go right to the front of the net without so much as uh, “hey would you mind not standing there, you may score” cross-check or hook. If twitter existed back then he’d be eviscerated for that goal.
I could go on about the other ones, but really I think we should all just enjoy Mats’ 500th goal. Because it rules.
Danny once met Doug Gilmour and it changed his life. Had he met Bret Hart the same day he would not have been able to handle it. He can be found on Twitter @ACatNamedFelix.