50th Anniversary Countdown: Top 10 Islanders OT Playoff Goals (No. 1-5)

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders
Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders / Focus On Sport/GettyImages
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There's nothing like playoff hockey, and there's nothing more nerve-wracking or exhilarating than games that go into sudden death. In the 50 years of New York Islanders hockey, the team has been on the plus side of some of the most memorable post-season overtimes in NHL history.

The Islanders have the best winning percentage (.645) in NHL history in Stanley Cup Playoff games that go to overtime with 40 wins against 22 losses for a winning percentage of .645. New York has been even better on the road (20-9) than they have been at home (20-13).

50th Anniversary Countdown: Top 10 Islanders OT Playoff Goals

As part of our 50th-anniversary countdowns, we rank the Top 10 overtime goals in New York Islanders' history. Last week, we released numbers 6-10. Today, we complete the list.

Let the countdown commence.

No. 5 - David Volek: Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the 1993 Patrick Division Finals

The 1992-93 Islanders had a young and talented roster with a promising future. Under Al Arbour, the team finished with a 40-37-7 record and finished third in the Patrick Division. After defeating the Washington Capitals in six games but losing star Pierre Turgeon to a dirty hit from Dale Hunter, the upstart Islanders were heavy underdogs against the two-time Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins led by Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.

The series went to a Game 7, and an unlikely hero was about to forever be part of Islanders' lure. David Volek scored at 6:10 of the third period to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead, his first goal since March 18. Then three minutes later, Benoit Hogue beat Tom Barrasso to extend the lead and put the Islanders 10 minutes away from stunning the hockey world.

But the defending champions wouldn't go quietly. Ron Francis scored to cut the lead to one with 3:47 to play and then Larry Murphy's shot deflected off Rick Tocchet and past Glenn Healy to tie the game with 60 seconds left to play and send the game into overtime.

“When overtime started, I told Ray Ferraro, ‘If there’s any justice, I’m going to score the winner’,” Volek said. “I told Ray that on the bench, then two or three shifts after that, there was that breakdown for the Penguins on the blue line, and we were a 2-on-1.”

Vokek one-timed a pass from Ferraro at 5:16 of overtime and send the Islanders to the Wales Conference Finals against the Montreal Canadiens. “I just instinctively one-timed the pass and shot the puck. I don’t know how tired I was. I felt I’m just going to take the shot. It was a well-timed pass from Ray and it kind of surprised the goalie.”

No. 4 - Pat LaFontaine: Islanders vs. Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the 1987 Patrick Division Semi-Finals

Game 7 of the 1987 Patrick Division Semifinals between the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals started on Saturday, April 18th but didn't end until Easter Sunday on April 19th.

The Isles had won Games 5 and 6 to force the deciding game and trailed in the third period 2-1 until Bryan Trottier beat goaltender Bob Mason at 14:37 to make it 2-2. No one knew it at the time, but that would be the last goal for a while - a very long while.

The game went on and on and on. By the end of the night, Islanders goaltender Kelly Hrudey finished with 73 saves; his counterpart Mason made 54. As the clock approached 2 am, the teams took the ice for the 4th overtime period. Islanders star Pat Lafontaine repeated and shouted to his teammates what he had during the previous intermissions, "Who's gonna be the hero?" It would be the future Hall-of-Famer himself that would end the marathon.

"I turned around and gave it my best shot," LaFontaine said. "I didn't think it had a chance because (Capitals defenseman)  dove to block it, and I think I saw it deflect off Hatcher. Then I heard a 'clank' and looked to see where the rebound went. I didn't know it was all over until everyone started mobbing me."

"It was the best game I ever played," LaFontaine says to this day, "and the greatest game I've ever been a part of."

No. 3 - J.P. Parise: Islanders vs. New York Rangers in Game 3 of the 1975 NHL Preliminary Round

After finishing in last place their first two seasons in the NHL, the New York Islanders finished with a 33-25-22 record in 1974-75 to make the playoffs for the first time in team history. On January 5, 1975, GM Bill Torrey acquired J.P. Parise from the Minnesota North Stars for a pair of forwards. Along with fellow acquisition Jude Drouin, the 1974-75 Islanders entered their preliminary playoff round matchup with cross-town rival New York Rangers optimistic about their chances.

The Isles won the first game of the series 3-2 at Madison Square Garden before being blown out by the Blueshirts 8-3 at the Nassau Coliseum to send the series back to MSG for a decisive Game 3. The underdog Islanders held a 3-0 lead heading into the third period on a goal from Clark Gillies in the first and two by Denis Potvin in the second.

But in the third, the Rangers came storming back and scored three goals against Billy Smith, and the Isles found themselves on the verge of being eliminated by their big city counterpart.

The game would go into overtime and produced the first of many memorable playoff moments between the two teams in the 70s and 80's. It all happened in 11 seconds.

Here are quotes from players as captured by Stan Fischler in his Maven's Memories series.

"I decided to fire the puck into the corner," said captain Eddie Westfall, "and see what happened."

"As soon as Davey dumped the puck, I raced in, got to it first and sent it right out to J.P. He had gotten around their defenseman Brad Park," Drouin said.

“We had a set play,” Parise recalled. “If Jude went to the corner, I’d go to the other corner. For some reason, this time, I never went to the corner; I went to the net. Jude found me and I tipped it in. It was a tremendous pass right on my stick. Brad Park was on the ice and I just beat him there. I got hit so hard after I scored, I hit the back of my head on the ice and then the guys all piled on me.”

"It was just like being in church; so quiet," said head coach Al Arbour.

The New York Islanders had arrived and the rivalry with the Rangers was just getting started.

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.

No. 1 - Bob Nystrom: Islanders vs. Philadelphia Flyers in Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Final

The goal that will always be No. 1.

On Sunday, May 24, 1980, the New York Islanders hosted Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final versus the Philadelphia Flyers, a win away from their first Stanley Cup. The Isles appeared in control with a 4-2 lead heading into the third period, but two Flyers goals early in the third period tied the game and set the stage for the biggest goal in franchise history, giving birth to a sports dynasty.

The play started with Lorne Henning making a crisp cross-ice pass to John Tonelli, who crisscrossed with Bob Nystrom entering the Flyers zone. Tonelli then made a perfect pass on the stick of a streaking Nystrom, who deflected the puck past Pete Peeters to win the Stanley Cup.

"John Tonelli and I … if we didn't do 3,000 2-on-2s, it's just one of those days where it just worked out perfectly," Nystrom told NHL.com in 2017. "Bob Dailey bit a little bit on John when he crossed over [the blue line], and I was able to get in behind him. It was a great moment," Nystrom added. "I always think of it as I thank God for putting me in that position and given the opportunity to do something for my teammates that we all wanted to do. I was thrilled, and I couldn't do it for a better group of guys."