As the NHL prepares for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the NHL.com staff selected the best 20 Stanley Cup Final games since 2000. Our 15-writer panel nominated 44 games for consideration before each member voted for his or her favorite 20 from that list. Each favorite game was awarded 20 points, with the selections that followed receiving one fewer point each and so on, down to one point for each 20th-favorite game. Today, we look at Game 7 of the 2001 Final between the Colorado Avalanche and New Jersey Devils, which was on 12 ballots and received two first-place votes and 153 points.
2001 Game 7: Colorado Avalanche 3, New Jersey Devils 1
Ray Bourque finally got his name on the Stanley Cup after trying for more than two decades in what turned out to be a fairytale ending to this Stanley Cup Final.
In Game 7, Colorado took a three-goal lead in the second period and held on for a 3-1 win to finally make Bourque a champion. The defenseman was traded to Colorado on March 6, 2000 after spending his first 21 seasons in Boston and was the first player to receive the Cup after it was presented to captain Joe Sakic.
Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs for a record third time, going 16-7 with a 1.70 goals-against average, .934 save percentage and four shutouts. Sakic led the playoffs with 13 goals and 26 points to give Colorado its second title (1996).
The Devils, who were trying to repeat as champions after winning the Cup in 2000, and the Avalanche each were the No. 1 seed in their respective conference, and two of the top-scoring teams in the League; New Jersey led the League with 295 goals during the regular season and Colorado ranked fourth with 270. In the Cup Final, the teams alternated wins in the first four games before the Devils won Game 5 in Colorado to take a 3-2 series lead. With a chance to clinch the Cup at home, the Devils fell flat, losing 4-0, with Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote scoring a goal and getting two assists.
They said it: "Joe had an incredible year that year but I tell him that's the best assist you've ever had was passing me the Cup. What a classy move on his part" -- Avalanche defenseman Ray Bourque
Video: Ray Bourque capped career with dramatic Cup in 2001
Historical significance: The Final featured seven future Hall of Famers, four on the Avalanche (Bourque, Roy, Sakic, Rob Blake) and three on the Devils (Martin Brodeur, Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens). Avalanche center Peter Forsberg is also in the Hall of Fame but didn't play in the Finals. He had surgery to remove his spleen after Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals. … It was the final NHL game for Bourque, who finished his 22-season NHL career with 1,579 points (410 goals, 1,169 assists), each total the most among defensemen in NHL history. … It was the first and only Cup for Blake, an 11-year NHL veteran at the time who played 20 seasons. … Six Avalanche players (Forsberg, Roy, Sakic, Foote, Jon Klemm, Stephane Yelle) also won the Cup with the team in 1996. … This was the first time the top two seeds in each conference advanced to the Final since 1989 (Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens).
Iconic moment: When Commissioner Gary Bettman handed the Stanley Cup to Sakic, the Avalanche captain, he didn't even lift it, instead handing it to Bourque. Play-by-play announcer Gary Thorne captured the moment brilliantly with his iconic call: "And after 22-years... Raymond Bourque!" Images were shown of Bourque's family, including his son, Ryan, crying on the ice while Bourque took a lap with the Cup.
Video: 2001 Cup Final, Gm7: A Cup for Bourque
Telling stat: Bourque played 29:35, nine seconds fewer than Foote, who led all skaters. Bourque had two shots on goal and was plus-2, and fittingly, the 40-year-old was on the ice when the final horn sounded. He had 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 21 playoff games. As Roy said after the game, referencing the Stanley Cup, "There was a name missing on that thing and today, it's back to normal."