NEW YORK --
Last-minute drama and late-game heroics have been almost routine through the first six weeks of the 2008-09 National Hockey League season. Saturday night alone, three games were tied by last-minute goals -- for only the second time in the past 25 years -- and two others were decided by late go-ahead scores.
So far this season, there have been 12 tying goals in the closing minute of regulation -- exactly twice the total through the same number of games last season (256). In all, seven games have been won by goals in the last two minutes of regulation time and 16 other games have been tied in the last two minutes.
Saturday’s last-minute tying goals were produced by Washington’s Alex Ovechkin
(at 19:59 at New Jersey), Colorado’s Darcy Tucker
(at 19:49 at Edmonton) and the Rangers’ Markus Naslund
(at 19:07 against Boston). All three games went to shootouts, with Colorado and the Rangers going on to 3-2 victories while the Devils overcame the last-second loss of their lead and took a 6-5 decision.
The only other such instance in the past quarter-century involved two of the teams involved Saturday -- Colorado and New Jersey. Last March 28, Colorado’s Joe Sakic
(19:54 vs. Edmonton), Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec
(19:45 at Buffalo) and Philadelphia’s Mike Knuble
(19:04 at New Jersey) each scored a game-tying goal in the final minute of the third period. In each case, the team that scored the last-minute goal went on to win.
Two other games Saturday were decided by late go-ahead scores. Reprising his late-game heroics in Tuesday's 7-6 overtime win at Detroit, the Pittsburgh Penguins
' Jordan Staal
scored the winning goal at 15:27 of the third period in a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres
. Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators
got the winner from J.P. Dumont at 17:32 of the third period in a 3-1 triumph at Los Angeles.
Sunday's action featured more of the same. The San Jose Sharks
got a power-play goal from Devin Setoguchi
at 15:45 of the third period for a 6-5 victory at Chicago, while Montreal's Robert Lang
scored the game-tying goal at 15:48 of the third period at St. Louis in what became a 3-2 shootout victory for the Canadiens.
LATE SCORE-TYING GOALS (through 256 games)
Within Last 1:00 12 in 2008-09, 6 in 2007-08
Within Last 2:00 16 in 2008-09, 12 in 2007-08
Within Last 3:00 20 in 2008-09, 12 in 2007-08