5. Eric Staal (Game 7, Round 1 of the 2009 Playoffs vs NJD)
I’m not even going to start things off slow – I’m just gonna jump right into a potentially controversial pick for #5 on the list – which was Eric Staal’s series-clinching goal in New Jersey on April 28th of 2009.
How could a series-clinching goal in the last minute of a game making a top-5 list be controversial you ask? Because, I chose this goal to make the list ahead of Jussi Jokinen’s game 4 winning-goal with just 0.2 seconds left in the game. The Jokinen goal probably saved the series for Carolina, as a loss would’ve had them down 3 games to 1. But Staal’s magical goal won the series. Let’s re-live the moment quickly.
The Hurricanes season looked at its ends, down 3-2 on the road in New Jersey in the last 90 seconds of Game 7. Jussi Jokinen, once again, decided to save the Canes’ playoff lives by equalising the game with just 1:21 remaining. The Canes were visibly ecstatic that they gave themselves a chance to force OT – until the unthinkable happened.
After an icing with 44 seconds to go, the Devils harmlessly cleared the puck out into neutral ice. But the Hurricanes were quick to pounce on the transition, and Eric Staal found himself with some space along the wing. He cold-bloodedly rifled a sweet wrist shot past Brodeur, absolutely stunning the Devils home crowd by giving Carolina a 4-3 lead with just 31 seconds remaining.
The Hurricanes had not made the playoffs since their 2006 Cup win, and had not held a series-lead up to that point in the round against New Jersey. All-in-all, an absolutely remarkable goal in the clutchest of moments, and one that will be remembered in the minds of Hurricanes fans forever.
Eerily, Jordan Staal scored a strangely similar goal to Eric’s in Game 7 of the series vs the Washington Capitals last April, which you can watch here.
As for the original Staal game 7 goal, you can watch that clip below, which also features Jokinen’s tying goal and sets up the mood. Goosebumps warning.