It’s hard to believe the 2021-22 NHL season is over and the Stanley Cup has been awarded.
Sunday night saw the Colorado Avalanche hoist the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2001 in a triumphant celebration of sports joy. Sure, the Stanley Cup may have a few dents in it now, but hey it’s nothing the keeper of the Cup can’t fix, right?
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are the best part of a NHL season, no contest. And this year’s postseason may have been the best hockey’s had to offer in years, from the wild in-game swings to the pure talent level on display from the NHL’s finest.
Now that we’ve put yet another NHL season to rest, let’s take a look back at the 10 best moments from the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs that we’ll remember for years to come.
Artemi Panarin's Game 7 OT winner eliminates the Penguins in the first round
As called on MSG: pic.twitter.com/OiPSJLN0d0
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) May 16, 2022
The first round of the playoffs had five Game 7s, from the Maple Leafs losing yet again in Round 1 to the Hurricanes sneaking past the Bruins. Artemi Panarin’s overtime winner in Game 7 to eliminate the Penguins in the opening round, however, may have been the most hype of them all.
Connor McDavid seals the deal for the Oilers in Game 7 against the Kings
NHL x @massmutual
— NHL (@NHL) May 15, 2022
Not to be outdone, Connor McDavid had a hand in both of the Oilers goals to eliminate the Kings in Game 7 of the first round. Edmonton’s captain put a bow on the series with this sensational goal in the dying minutes of the third period to send Los Angeles packing.
Lightning stun Panthers with Ross Colton's last-second goal to send game to OT
Panthers give up a goal with 4 secs left in a tie game 😭 pic.twitter.com/1bJUB8nbQG
— CJ Fogler AKA Perc70 #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) May 20, 2022
En route to the Stanley Cup Final, the Lightning had some real clutch moments in these playoffs. This one came from Ross Colton, whose last-second game-tying goal to send Game 2 of the second round to overtime was a real back breaker for the Panthers.
Not only did the Panthers end up losing Game 2 thanks to this goal, they were swept by the Lightning in the series in embarrassing fashion, no less!
The entirety of the Battle of Alberta
The Battle of Alberta was an absolute slug fest between the Oilers and Flames in the second round. Game 1 featured 15 total goals alone, with the Flames scoring on their first shot of the series.
This series also featured Mike Smith doing Mike Smith things, as he let in a disastrous goal from the other side of the rink in Game 4 to let the Flames tie things up.
HAHAHAHAHA MIKE SMITH pic.twitter.com/9m2jPNZeOi
— Mike Pfeil (@mikeFAIL) May 25, 2022
The Oilers eventually won the series in five games, but the memories of this year’s Battle of Alberta will last a lifetime.
Nazem Kadri's first playoff hat trick lights a fire under the Avalanche
Nazem Kadri had a hell of a playoffs this year. From Jordan Binnington throwing a water bottle at the Avalanche forward to Kadri dealing with racist hockey fans in the aftermath, you’d imagine it’d be hard to concentrate on the game of hockey.
But not for Kadri, who — in response to Binnington’s water bottle toss and fans’ racist remarks — scored a hat trick in Game 4 to silence his critics once and for all.
"For those who hate, that was for them."
Nazem Kadri spoke to the panel about his performance tonight in St. Louis and dealing with the threats he received after Game 3 pic.twitter.com/w88yIGm7Yf
— NHLonTNT (@NHL_On_TNT) May 24, 2022
Kadri even got the last laugh in the Stanley Cup Final with one final message to his haters.
“For everyone that thought I was a liability in the playoffs you can kiss my ass.”
— Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) June 27, 2022
Nathan MacKinnon's incredible last-minute hat trick nearly ends the Blues
MACKINNON. COAST TO COAST. HAT TRICK,. 4-3 COLORADO 😱😱 pic.twitter.com/5e1LvXoWwP
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) May 26, 2022
While the Blues ruined this moment by sending Game 5 to overtime — and winning — Nathan MacKinnon nearly eliminated the Blues from the second round with this gorgeous goal in the final minutes of the third. Even though that wasn’t the final nail in the Blues coffin, what a goal!
Mike Smith melts down in the Western Conference Final
The Oilers held a 4-2 lead in the third period of Game 4 of the Western Conference Final, facing down a sweep at the hands of the Avalanche. Instead of locking down the game, the Oilers allowed three straight goals in a Mike Smith meltdown of epic proportions and had to force overtime.
Artturi Lehkonen, however, had other plans in the extra frame.
All anyone could talk about after the Oilers were eliminated was Smith’s performance and subsequent implosion in the pivotal game.
Mike Smith is a multi-sport athlete. Here you can see the classic ice hockey/golf/javelin throw combo pic.twitter.com/wGcDNuOM7U
— Hockey Players With Animals (And Other Chaos) (@animalsofhockey) June 7, 2022
Hilariously though, this game also featured TNT’s Don Koharski accidentally cursing on live TV during a goal review, so this series really had everything you could want!
Don Koharski with the hot mic moment 😆pic.twitter.com/dPvEjrT0uE
— Pickswise (@Pickswise) June 7, 2022
Ondrej Palat's last-minute game winner spurs Lightning to win Eastern Conference Final
Remember how I said the Lightning clutched up in big situations these playoffs? Ondrej Palat’s game-winning goal in the final minute of Game 3 that helped the Lightning avoid going down 3-0 to the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final was the epitome of that.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 5, 2022
Palat’s goal was a huge momentum shifter for the Lightning, as Tampa Bay never lost again in the Eastern Conference Final, finishing out the Rangers with four straight wins.
"All The Small Things" becomes Avalanche's Stanley Cup winning anthem
— Michelle R. Martinelli (@MMartinelli4) June 16, 2022
While this tradition started a few years back, “All The Small Things” truly stepped in to the spotlight for the Avalanche during their run to the Stanley Cup Final. And what an incredible tradition it is!
Avalanche hold off the back-to-back champs to secure the Stanley Cup
And finally, the moment every hockey player dreams of! The Avalanche bested the Lightning 2-1 in Game 6 to take home the Stanley Cup and the celebrations were absolutely glorious.
The Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley Cup pic.twitter.com/hhTaPWcXp5
— CJ Fogler AKA Perc70 #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) June 27, 2022
What an embrace between Nathan MacKinnon and Erik Johnson after winning the Stanley Cup pic.twitter.com/sqjHj0qVCT
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) June 27, 2022
This was a long time coming for the Avalanche, but what a way to cap off the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs!