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Year in review: Top 14 hockey moments in '14

by Corey Masisak

Every year is filled with great games and great performances, but there are certain moments that stand out.

These moments can give fans goose bumps, or make them cheer and scream as loud as they can or even elicit tears. Whether it is a point in a game where the electricity of the sport wows everyone, or communal support in a time of tragedy, hockey brings people together.

Here are the top 14 hockey moments of 2014:

Jan. 1: A sea of blue (and red) at the Big House

The anticipation for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic centered largely on the venue. The NHL was going to play at Michigan Stadium, and a crowd of more than 100,000 was expected.

As the players stood and waited for the national anthems to be completed, the full scope of the spectacle set in. A record number of fans, half dressed in red for the Detroit Red Wings and half in blue for the Toronto Maple Leafs, sang the anthems and created a college-football like atmosphere as the snow fell in Ann Arbor. The Maple Leafs won in a shootout, and the images from the largest crowd to ever watch an NHL game were spectacular.

Jan. 26: Hockey goes Hollywood at Chavez Ravine

Before the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks engaged in the first Freeway Series, they put hockey in southern California on a grand stage in a 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game at Dodger Stadium. It was a surreal scene, with a beach volleyball court and an outdoor yoga studio on the field alongside the rink.

A performance from KISS, players entering the field with the help of the University of Southern California marching band and a fireworks show added to the audio and visual party, and having Wayne Gretzky drop the ceremonial first puck was the final touch to an incredible pregame scene.

Feb. 15: "T.J. Sochi" is born

Sure, it was only a preliminary round game between two countries that didn't medal. But in a tournament short on drama, the United States defeating Russia in a shootout with Vladimir Putin on hand was one of the defining moments of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

It was an excellent game, with Russia carrying the play for much of it, but St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie became an instant celebrity when he scored four times in the shootout to defeat the host Russians, 34 years after the "Miracle on Ice" at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. It became a duel between Oshie and Ilya Kovalchuk, and Oshie became one of the most popular players in the League in 2014 because of it.

Feb. 19: Kelli Stack hits the post

The United States was less than four minutes from winning the gold medal in women's hockey, but Canada staged an incredible rally to win in overtime. Down 2-0, Canada scored twice in the final 3:26, including a goal that bounced off a U.S. player and in, to force overtime and scored a power-play goal after a controversial penalty.

Kelli Stack came within centimeters of clinching the gold for the United States. She shot the puck at an empty Canadian net, but it struck the left goal post with 1:24 remaining in regulation Marie-Philip Poulin scored with less than a minute left.

Sidney Crosby's first goal of the 2014 Olympic ice hockey tournament was the most important, as he gave Canada a 2-0 lead and helped lift his country to another gold medal in Sochi. (Photo: Getty Images)

Feb. 23: Sidney Crosby clinches another gold medal

Sidney Crosby had zero goals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics before the gold-medal game, but his first of the tournament gave Canada a 2-0 lead late in the second period. Canada was in the process of delivering one of the greatest displays of goal prevention the sport has ever seen at a high level. Crosby broke in alone on goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and deked to his backhand for a goal that removed any doubt about another gold medal for Canada.

Canada allowed three goals in six games in the tournament. Jonathan Toews gave it a 1-0 lead early against a depleted Sweden squad, and Chris Kunitz added another insurance goal midway through the third. Crosby, who scored the gold-medal winner against the United States four years prior, and Toews were both dominant in the tournament despite not scoring goals until the final game.

March 18: Sharks help Sam Tageson realize a dream

The Sharks' best personnel move of 2014 came in March when they signed 18-year-old Sam Tageson to a one-day contract. Tageson, a lifelong Sharks fan who has a life-threatening heart condition, spent the day with the Sharks through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

He skated with the team during the morning skate and hung out with them in the locker room. Before the game he skated onto the ice through the team's giant shark head and stood on the ice during the national anthem before receiving a huge ovation just before puck drop.

April 14: #TeemuForever says goodbye in Anaheim

Teemu Selanne produced many memorable moments in his career and became one of the most beloved players in the NHL in the process. The scene at Honda Center after his 1,451st and final regular-season game was incredible when fans saluted Selanne with a long standing ovation.

The Ducks played the Colorado Avalanche and backup goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who helped Selanne and the Ducks win the Stanley Cup in 2007 and was also retiring. Selanne grabbed Giguere and held up his arm as the two took a final lap around the ice together. It was just another reason why Selanne has been one of the great ambassadors of the sport.

May 28: The Blackhawks and Kings find another level

The Kings and Chicago Blackhawks needed overtime of a seventh game to decide who was champion of the Western Conference, and the two best teams in the League in 2013-14 were at their best in Game 5 of the conference final. Chicago's Ben Smith scored in the third period to make it 4-4, but the first overtime became an event few superlatives could describe.

For 20 minutes, the Blackhawks and Kings produced a level of hockey only rarely touched by international teams full of world-class players. At one point, the two teams went nearly eight minutes without a whistle, just racing up and down the ice trading scoring chances. During the ensuing television timeout, people at United Center were awestruck by the pace and skill on display.

Michal Handzus scored for Chicago in the second overtime, and eventually Los Angeles survived the series and won the Stanley Cup, but the first overtime in Game 5 may have been the highest level of hockey seen in the NHL in 2014.

Alec Martinez's overtime goal in Game 5 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final clinched the Los Angeles Kings' second Stanley Cup in three years. (Photo: Getty Images)

June 13: Alec Martinez scores a Stanley Cup-winning goal

Alec Martinez had already scored the goal of his life in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Martinez's goal in overtime of Game 7 against the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final would make for a fine individual high-water mark of anyone's career, but he topped it 12 days later.

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist kicked the rebound of Tyler Toffoli's shot toward the left circle but Martinez, who had carried the puck out of danger and started the rush, was waiting there and fired the rebound into the net to set off a second championship celebration at Staples Center in three years.

July 9: Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane ascend to the top

Toews and Kane signed matching eight-year, $84 million contracts, solidifying their place with the Blackhawks into the next decade and making them the first players in the salary cap era to have a contract with an average annual value of $10 million or more.

Alex Ovechkin had possessed the largest contract by AVV since he signed a 13-year, $124 pact in 2008, but a new collective bargaining agreement and rising salary cap should mean Toews and Kane won't be the last to sign eight-figure per season contracts. But they were the first in the cap era.

Oct. 22: Consol Energy Center sings "Oh, Canada"

The Canadian national anthem is typically only sung in American NHL cities (besides Buffalo) when a team from a Canadian city is the visiting club. When a gunman opened fire in downtown Ottawa and killed a soldier, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers wanted to show their support and the fans at Consol Energy Center obliged, helping Jeff Jimerson sing "Oh, Canada' before the Keystone State rivals squared off.

Nov. 3: Vladimir Tarasenko lights up The Garden

Tarasenko has been a breakout star for the St. Louis Blues in the 2014-15 season, but not only is his production among the best in the League he also generates highlight-reel goals with some serious frequency.

If there was a play that epitomized Tarasenko's rapid ascension to star status, it was his amazing goal against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. He collected a pass on the St. Louis side of center ice and then looked like someone who had hit the turbo button when he knifed through the Rangers defense before using the "Peter Forsberg move" to score one-handed on goaltender Cam Talbot.

Dec. 4: Daniel Alfredsson comes home

Daniel Alfredsson was captain of the Ottawa Senators for 14 seasons until signing with the Detroit Red Wings before last season. After deciding he was unable to continue playing, Alfredsson signed a one-day ceremonial contract with the Senators and skated with the team during warm-ups before a game against the New York Islanders.

At the beginning and end of warm-ups, the Senators players formed two lines for Alfredsson to skate through, and he took time to soak in the ovation from fans eager to salute the most popular player in team history.

Dec. 8: Bell Centre honors Le Gros Bill

Any number of individual moments from the days after the death of Montreal Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau could make this list. Revered by the province of Quebec like few athletes in any part of the world have ever been, fans flocked to Bell Centre while Beliveau's body lay in state.

Before the Dec. 8 game against the Vancouver Canucks, the Canadiens produced a wonderful pregame ceremony to remember and celebrate Beliveau. It concluded with a long standing ovation for Beliveau and his wife, Elise, who embodied the same grace and elegance throughout the week that made her late husband such a treasured part of hockey history.

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