There is always something very unique and special about a burly stay-at-home NHL defenseman scoring a big goal in a big game. It is even more special when it happens unexpectedly, under the bright lights and big stage of something as huge as the Stanley Cup Final. New Jersey Devils defensemen Ken Daneyko and Bryce Salvador have both experienced such a moment. Today we take a look back at both players and their very special Fianls moments.
The Devils six-game Stanley Cup win over the Dallas Stars in 2000 is mostly remembered for the Patrik Elias behind-the-back pass to Jason Arnott for the Cup-clinching goal in double-overtime. However, one of the series most impressionable moments came way back in the first game of the series. With the game knotted at 1-1, an opportunistic Daneyko took advantage of Stars goalie Ed Belfour and his cough syrup induced buzz to break a 1-1 tie 2:52 into the second.
Off a face-off in the left circle, the puck trickled to New Jersey’s Sergei Brylin. He pushed it back to a wide-eyed Daneyko, whose seeing-eye slap shot, hit Belfour’s right knee, then bounced off his left skate before finding the back of the net. Daneyko had not scored in 108 games and his last playoff goal came in Game Five of the 1995 Eastern Conference finals.
Daneyko’s reaction made this one of the best moments, not only in the game, but in Devils history. Before his teammates could congratulate him, Dan-o was already jumping up-and-down with joy. The goal seemingly opened the flood gates for the New Jersey Offense as they erupted for five more goals en route to a stunning 7-3 win and a 1-0 series lead.
“I know that’s not my forte or my job, but I kept telling the guys I’m going to save it for a special occasion,” said Daneyko after the game.
There is no denying how much hard-work and luck a team needs in order to reach a Stanley Cup Final. This past spring was no different, as the Devils found themselves playing in the franchises’ fifth Cup Finals. One player that played a significant role in the Devils return to the top was Bryce Salvador and his suddenly remarkable scoring touch.
New Jersey fell behind 3-0 in the series to the Los Angeles Kings before finally winning game four to stay alive for another day. With game 5 tied 1-1, Salvador came through again. As with Daneyko’s goal, a seemingly harmless shot from the point found a way through a crowd in front and past a stunned Jonathan Quick.
The goal gave the Devils a 2-1 lead and turned out to be the game-winner. he goal was Salvador’s fourth goal of the playoffs — four times as many as he had in 82 regular-season games.The win sent the series back to Los Angeles and kept the Devils hopes of a miraculous comeback alive and well. Even though Los Angeles closed the series out in six games, the goal by Salvador had let a bit of doubt creep in.
“I know what my role is and what I do. The fact that some offense is coming along with it is nice. ” Salvador about his new found offensive touch.
The results of both Finals were very different, but both goals were still big moments nonetheless and goals that I myself will never forget.
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