With another hockey season just around the corner, TSN.ca looks back at the most unforgettable moments of 2009-10; from Stanley Cup overtime to Canadian Olympic gold and everything in between, join us as TSN.ca revisits the Unforgettable Moments from the last 12 months in hockey. Game on!
It’s the kind of thing that could keep you up at night, re-living the moment over and over and wondering what you could have done differently. In a worst-case scenario, it could come to define your entire career (think Bill Buckner’s infamous fielding blooper, or Ray Finkle - laces out!).
In Denver for Game 3 of the NHL’s Western Conference Quarterfinal, the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche went to overtime deadlocked at 0-0. Just 51 seconds in, Sharks defenceman Dan Boyle tried to wrap the puck around the boards. Instead it deflected off the stick of the Avs' Ryan O’Reilly and slipped past Boyle's own goaltender Evgeni Nabokov – one of the truly unforgettable moments of the 2010 postseason.
"I was watching the puck," said Nabokov. "The puck was supposed to go behind the net, so I took my eyes off it. To be honest, I didn't even see where the puck went into the net."
O'Reilly got the goal, while Boyle got the goat horns – as well as a spot alongside the Oilers' Steve Smith and Senators' Chris Phillips in own-goal infamy.
"It's pretty much the worst thing that can happen to a player, to put it in your own net," Boyle said after the game.
Up to that point, the Sharks had dominated the Avalanche, outshooting Colorado 51-17 in the game, including a 42-7 margin in the last two periods of play.
Though the loss caused the Sharks to fall to a 2-1 deficit in the series, Boyle’s own-goal actually didn’t end up costing them the series (they would end up winning it 4-2). It did, however, prompt many to add yet another example of post-season failure to the team’s lengthy list of playoff underperformances.
The Sharks would later be swept by the eventual-champion Blackhawks, sealing another premature exit and ensuring "there's always next year" as the team's perpetual post-season motto.
Boyle can take solace in knowing that his own-goal, while unforgettable and truly bizarre, is hardly the most well-known of its kind.
That honour, of course, belongs to Steve Smith of the Edmonton Oilers. In the third period of Game 7 of the 1986 Smythe Division Finals against the Calgary Flames, with the score tied 2-2, Smith – a well-respected rookie – tried to clear the puck in front of his own net and accidentally banked the puck off the back of Grant Fuhr's leg. The Oilers would lose the game and be eliminated from the playoffs. Oh, and that happened to be Smith's 23rd birthday. No doubt that dampened the celebration somewhat.
Another blunder by Chris Phillips 21 years later proved equally costly. During Game 5 of the 2007 Stanley Cup finals, when his Senators were taking on the Anaheim Ducks, Phillips clumsily stick-handled the puck right off his own goaltender Ray Emery and across the goal line. That unfortunate turn of events gave the Ducks a 3-1 lead and ended up being the Cup-winning goal for Anaheim, who went on to take the game 6-2.
While Boyle's recent blunder may not hold a candle to those lowlights, it certainly has a special place in playoff and blooper history.
"If Boyle puts it into his own net in the regular season, it makes the SportsCentre highlight run, maybe gets Highlight of the Night distinction. Everyone shares a chuckle and the hockey world moves on," says NHL Insider Darren Dreger. "However, to have this happen in a playoff game, in overtime, and to give Colorado a 2-1 series lead, it's almost unthinkable."
"I feel terrible," Boyle told the Canadian Press afterwards. "A horrible, horrible bounce."
"We can't change what happened," Nabokov said after the game.
There’s a lesson to be learned from all of this: next time you think you’re having a bad day at work, just be thankful it didn’t happen in front of 20,000 people and another million or two watching at home.
We’re always interested in hearing what you think in our Your Call feature below. Which hockey own-goal is the worst ever? Do you think the Sharks can break their post-season habits this time around? Let us know!