Game Four of the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks was one of the most memorable games in National Hockey League history. The Penguins were leading the series 3-0 going into the game.
Although the Penguins may ultimately won the game and their second Stanley Cup in two years, what many remember this game for is fresh-faced Dominik Hasek and his incredible individual effort. He carried the Blackhawks throughout the game and almost stole the contest for his team; they lost by just one goal, 6-5.
To begin, after an uncharacteristically shaky start, letting in 2 goals on 4 shots, Ed Belfour was pulled; Dominik Hasek entered the game. I doubt many spectators realized that they were watching a Czech sensation being born.
He made never-before-seen saves: skating out of the net and diving for the puck, lunging and rolling around in his crease, stacking the pads and robbing players. Hasek’s performance in this single game defined his innovative style of play that was renowned over his entire career. This type of goaltending has become a lost art in today’s game.
What makes the story even more crazy is the fact that Hasek still had the guts to attempt what he did despite the circumstances: he was a 10th round pick by Chicago with only 30 games of NHL experience (regular season and playoffs), and this was his first ever game in the Stanley Cup Finals, and he was staring in the face of elimination.
All in all, Dominik Hasek was never afraid to give the game some of his own flare.
He may have only had 21 saves on 25 shots – giving him an ugly .849 save percentage – but some people saw something special in Hasek’s game. The Buffalo Sabres acquired the goaltender that following off-season. He spent his next nine seasons in the city, winning six Vezina Trophies – an NHL record.
Just over a week ago, Hasek was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. One of the biggest highlights of his career is the fact that he is the goaltender with the highest regular season save percentage in NHL history at .922 (for goalies with a minimum of 700 games played). Obviously, this one playoff game didn’t statistically reflect his legendary career.
For Pittsburgh, this was likely the greatest team the club has ever had. Mario Lemieux, Ron Francis, Jaromir Jagr were all lethal forces leading the team’s offense. Today, these three players are all top ten in NHL history for most career points. In addition, two of them are also Hall of Famers, and Jagr, undoubtedly, will be too soon after he retires.
Not to mention, Tom Barrasso, the starting goaltender for both of Penguins’ Stanley Cup wins (1991, 1992), is a former all-star and the second most winningest US-born goaltender in history.
1. In my opinion, Hasek’s best and most entertaining save from the game. He skates out to center ice and dives at Kevin Stevens, robbing the forward. One of the many classic Dominik Hasek saves made in the game.
2. Mario Lemieux shows off some cool stick tricks during a stoppage of play, flipping the puck up onto his stick, and then tossing it to the referee.
3. Behind the bench for the Penguins is a young Scotty Bowman (head coach) and Pierre McGuire (assistant coach).
4. Representing the Blackhawks coaching staff is a young of Mike Keenan (head coach) and Darryl Sutter (assistant coach).
5. A fan showcases his quick reflex, making a great catch in the crowd on a deflected puck.