No. 2 - John Tonelli: Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 of the 1982 Patrick Division Semi-Finals
The night the dynasty almost died. On April 13, 1982, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders trailed the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 late in the decisive Game 5 of the 1982 Patrick Division Semi-Finals. The Penguins went 31-36-13 that season but believed that could beat the 118-point Islanders that night and were on the verge of doing so.
The Isles desperately needed a spark and got one when Mike McEwen scored at 14:33 to pull them to within a goal at 3-2. Then three minutes later, John Tonelli showed yet again why he was one of the team's most clutch players, scoring the tying goal at 17:39 and sending Game 5 into overtime at the Nassau Coliseum.
The deciding goal happened when Bob Bourne sent Tonelli on his way down the middle of the ice and into the Penguins zone, where he was hauled down by Pens defenseman Paul Baxter. The puck was sent into the corner where "JT" found it and centered a backhand pass to Bob Nystrom.
Nystrom faked a shot, went to the backhand but was denied by goaltender Marcel Dion but rebound was found by Tonelli. "The puck was just lying there and nobody else saw it. Dion was down, and I had the whole net to shoot at; how could I miss?"
"We thought we had them," the Pens goaltender, Dion said after the game. "We played our hearts out, but those Islanders wouldn't quit. They have the heart of a lion."
The heart of a champion, too.