The Monday Night Miracle (ice hockey)
|Date||May 12, 1986|
|Arena||St. Louis Arena|
|City||St. Louis, Missouri|
The Monday Night Miracle was the 1986 Stanley Cup playoff game between the Calgary Flames and the St. Louis Blues that was played on May 12, 1986. The game's notability stems from the Blues' overcoming a three-goal deficit with 12 minutes remaining in the third period, and their subsequent game-winning goal in overtime scored by Doug Wickenheiser.
Before the game
The St. Louis Blues finished the 1985-86 season in third place in the Norris Division. The Blues defeated the Minnesota North Stars in the Norris Division semifinals three games to two, then pulled out a four games to three series win against the Toronto Maple Leafs to earn the Norris Division title. The Calgary Flames meanwhile finished the 1985-86 season in second place in the Smythe Division. The Flames swept the Winnipeg Jets in the opening round, then pulled off a shocking four games to three upset victory over the two time defending Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers to claim the Smythe Division title. Winning their first two playoff series brought the Blues to the Campbell Conference finals where they faced the Calgary Flames, with a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals for the winning team in the series. The teams split the first four games of the series, with the Flames winning Game 5 at home on May 10 to push St. Louis to the brink of elimination, which set the stage for Game 6 two days later at the St. Louis Arena.
Monday Night Miracle
Ken Wilson had the announcing duties for the national ESPN broadcast (the Blues regular television broadcaster, Dan Kelly, was calling the series on national TV in Canada), and he watched Calgary build a four to one lead. St. Louis scored their second goal of the game with about 15 seconds remaining in a five on three powerplay goal by Doug Wickenheiser, only to have that momentum temporary stifled as Joe Mullen answered by scoring Calgary's fifth goal of the game. The Blues subsequently found themselves trailing 5-2 at home with 12 minutes remaining in the third period. The Blues began their rally in earnest when Brian Sutter scored off a deflection off Calgary goalie Mike Vernon, and the 5-3 score carried down to eight minutes remaining in the game. Greg Paslawski was the next Blues player to score, making the score 5-4. In the midst of an electric atmosphere and impending sense of an upset, broadcaster Wilson commented on the Blues:
Unfortunately for the Blues, the clock dipped under two minutes remaining in the game as they still searched for the game-tying goal. With only 1:17 remaining in the game, the Blues shot the puck behind Calgary's net from the neutral zone. As Calgary defenseman Jamie Macoun brought the puck from behind the net, he didn't notice that Paslawski was right behind him. Stealing the puck at the side of net, Paslawski flinged a quick shot from a terrible angle that caught goalie Mike Vernon off guard. The puck went in the net, and with near-pandemonium in the Arena, the Blues burned the remaining time on the clock to force overtime.
Overtime quickly became another heart-racing experience in itself, as players like Calgary's Al MacInnis and the Blues' Doug Wickenheiser traded shots on net. Calgary then came within inches of winning when Joe Mullen took a slapshot from just inside the blueline that hit off the goalpost. A short time after that near-miss, and with future Blues franchise player Brett Hull watching from the press box as a member of the Calgary Flames, announcer Wilson called what many consider the greatest moment in St. Louis Blues history:
Wickenheiser's overtime goal set off the crowd at the Arena, a mass of cheering and celebration that continued well after both teams had left the ice. St. Louis couldn't rest on their laurels though, as they still faced an uphill battle by having to play Game 7 on Calgary's home ice, the Olympic Saddledome, two days later. The Blues made things interesting, but lost Game 7, 2-1. The Flames Game 7 victory sent them to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in their 14-year history. (The franchise spent their first eight seasons as the Atlanta Flames before moving to Calgary in 1980.) Unfortunately for the Flames, they would lose in five games to the Montreal Canadiens.
- Broeg, Bob (2000). The 100 Greatest Moments in St. Louis Sports. St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society Press. ISBN 1-883982-31-6.
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