- 4th Round (97th overall) in 2000
- Games Played: 517
- Goals-Assists-Points: 18-51-69
Niclas Wallin was a reliable defender with the Hurricanes for nearly nine full seasons. Despite not being an All-Star or an offensive dynamo from the blueline, Wallin became something of a folk hero to Hurricanes fans. So, what earned the Swedish blueliner that status?
In his time with the Hurricanes, Wallin played in 69 postseason games, scoring a grand total of three goals. The kicker? Every one of those goals came in overtime. The first one came in a game that’s known in Hurricanes lore as the “Molson Miracle“. Down two games to one to the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the 2002 playoffs, the Hurricanes entered the third period of Game 4 trailing 3-0.
Goals from Sean Hill, Bates Battaglia, and Erik Cole (with 41 seconds left in regulation) left the Molson Centre crowd stunned. Then, off of an offensive zone face-off just over three minutes into overtime, Jeff O’Neill got the puck to Wallin who fired a wrister from outside the top of the circle, beating Montreal’s Jose Theodore.
The Hurricanes went on to win the next two games by a combined score of 13-3, earning a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Toronto Maple Leafs. In Game 2 of that series, Wallin netted his second playoff overtime winner, beating Curtis Joseph from the high slot.
Wallin’s final playoff game-winner with the Hurricanes took place in a wild Game 2 against the New Jersey Devils in the 2006 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Tied at one late in the third period, Scott Gomez shocked the RBC Center crowd when a shot from Zach Parise deflected off him and past Cam Ward with 20.7 seconds left.
With time dwindling, coach Peter Laviolette pulled Ward for a sixth attacker, trusting Rod Brind’Amour to win the center-ice faceoff. New Jersey’s John Madden beat Brind’Amour cleanly, sending the puck deep into the Devil’s zone. After some insane scrambling, Justin Williams got the puck to the crease where Eric Staal found the back of the net, tying the game again with three seconds left.
After trading chances early in the extra period, Brind’Amour found a streaking Wallin who broke in on Devil’s goaltender Martin Brodeur. Defenceman Paul Martin made a diving play, causing the puck to come free from the blade of Wallin’s stick, glance off of his skate and beat Brodeur. The play was reviewed since it went off of Wallin’s skate but, as there was no kicking motion, the goal stood and the Hurricanes took a 2-0 series lead.
Wallin was traded to the San Jose Sharks in 2010, adding yet another playoff game-winner to his resume before retiring in March of 2013.